What should I bring when visiting a friend in the maternity ward?

Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
For the record, Oreos are TOTALLY acceptable to me. Photo by mihoda, used under Creative Commons license.
I am at the stage of my life where friends are becoming parents, and I want to be a supportive friend. Last weekend, when I got a text that it was go time and mom was being induced, I found myself excitedly asking, "What do I bring to the hospital?" I ended up taking Oreos for waiting family members and a tiny bouquet for mom — figuring they could throw it away instead of taking it home if hands were full of new child paraphernalia.

So I was wondering: for those who deliver in a hospital, what did you appreciate guests bringing — or NOT bringing — when they visited? — Alissa

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  1. What not to bring-
    Yourself unannounced. Imagine my frustration as I was trying to learn how to breastfeed when my male boss walked in.

    Balloons because babies born with CP also have a laytex allergy.

    Drama, colds, flu, small kids

    Leave peanuts outside the nursery. Try and find out if the parents are allergic to fresh cut flowers.

    What to bring-
    Because it was know I was planning on breastfeeding, cool gel packs for my breasts.
    Picture frames for the baby

    Gift certificates to pizza places. Good tea, good coffee

    5 agree
  2. A thoughtful friend brought me pajamas (sized large and comfy) and slippers. My mom and husband brought me my most-craved forbidden pregnancy foods — a salami sandwich and sushi!

    9 agree
  3. Food is a great option. Small, handheld, eatable with one hand in fits and spurts. So nuts, cookies, pre-cut fruit, cheese and crackers, etc.

    8 agree
  4. Food! I'm assuming you would check with the new mom before hand to see when is a good time to pop in so ask if she and the new dad have any particular cravings and pick it up on the way in.
    Though, personally, I preferred that people wait until we got home to visit. I utilized those hours at the hospital to practice breastfeeding in the presence of professionals and was in no mood for visitors.

    4 agree
  5. comfy pjs sound nice! or bring a gift for the baby like an outfit (usually 3-6 month because parents are usually stocked up on 0-3). if planning on breast feeding maybe a nice breast feeding cover up (loved mine and blankets just don't work all that well with a squirming, curious seven month old). maybe something unique like a unique stuffed animal or doll or a personalized wooden train made out of the child's name or a neat wooden toy. pictures frames are always in need too! maybe a nice scrap book set?

    • I would leave toys, picture frames or scrap books for at least until they get home. We had a ton of stuff to load up when leaving the hospital and I know I left at least two things. Pajamas sound awesome. It was something I didn't think about packing. (facepalm)

      5 agree
  6. FOOD
    Every time a friend would ask what they could bring for me, it was always food.
    I know both times I gave birth (the first I spent three days and the second I spent six)the entire time I was in the hospital I was STARVING. After many hours of fasting through labor and then only given three medium sized meals a day, this breastfeeding momma was hungry. I ate things I didn't like, I ate things I didn't want. I just ate whatever was given to me. I'd suggest getting in contact with either the momma or the poppa before hand and seeing what they'd like.

    Things not to bring: Random gifts like diaper cakes, huge flower vases, bags of baby clothes. Getting out of the hospital is a chore. I'm not saying people don't want those things, but they can wait until the family is at home instead of giving them so much stuff to carry out to the car from the recovery room.

    14 agree
    • I couldn't even bring myself to eat half the nasty food they brought me (3 days in hospital for me to rest up & baby to get some light chamber treatment.). Hubby was always going out to get me better food.

  7. My favorite was snack food for in the hospital, and gift cards for takeout/delivery that we were able to use once we got home. Additionally, our baby was born prematurely, and a few people brought us packs of preemie sized clothes and diapers. That was so thoughtful and helpful – things we were not prepared to need! My mom also bought me some new pajamas, which was wonderful.
    What I didn't like – people showing up to visit without warning; definitely try to call first, or at least try to see if it's a good time to visit via family. I had about 15 people in my room at one point – extremely overwhelming at a stressful time.

    1 agrees
  8. I'd stay away, since mom and baby are usually only in the hospital 24 hours and they need that time to work on breastfeeding (unless of course you are a breastfeeding expert and can provide support). The baby is not going anywhere, and Mom and co-parent need the time to catch up on sleep.

    A lot of hospitals have a greeting card program, where you can send a message and they'll be delivered. That's a better option. When you visit later, bring food and cleaning supplies. Don't ask to clean, just do it. Throw a load of laundry in, take out the garbage/compost/recycling, do the dishes, sweep/vacuum/etc. Also, bring dinner in a disposable container (like tinfoil) or in a container you never want back (maybe you buy them a baking dish as part of their baby present?). Freezer meals are fantastic. When my BFF had a baby, my wife and I would go over, take the baby while she would have a shower, and then clean the kitchen and stock up the freezer with the meals we brought. I also made super high fibre bran muffins.

    Just thoughts, but I'm a NICU RN and know how stressed out and exhausted parents are with a newborn (and I get them when they're *super* sick!)

    1 agrees
    • I think cleaning is a touchy subject. People came to the house and started cleaning, and then I felt guilty that they were cleaning my house. I absolutely second the idea of frozen meals. One of our friends sent us two frozen casseroles, and those puppies were a life saver.

      6 agree
      • I agree about cleaning being a touchy subject. I don't have kids, but if someone started cleaning my apartment without permission, I would be annoyed. Mainly because they probably don't know where things go and I would spend more time trying to find those things later than their cleaning would save.

        3 agree
        • Nobody has to scrub a toilet or put away your undies but loading and running the dishwasher, putting in a load of laundry you see sitting in the bathroom or wiping down the kitchen could be REALLY nice for an overwhelmed/exhausted new family. That said, if there are cleaning supplies in the bathroom why not give the toilet a squirt of bowl cleaner and a rub down with the toilet brush? I personally, would be thrilled if I even noticed….

          4 agree
          • Last time my mother-in-law came to visit, she decided to be helpful by unloading my dishwasher and suddenly I couldn't find half my utensils… -_-

            1 agrees
  9. It never hurts to ask. Im allergic to fresh flowers. Save presents for when they get home, they will have to lug gifts home when they are discharged. Bring a good camera and offer to take newborn ( no flash!) pics. If you bring alcohol for a celebratory toast, be discreet, as some moms will soon be visited by social services if they indulge in a drink after the birth. ( yes, really). A quick text to mom or the partner to ask if you can bring a favorite treat or something they maybe forgot to pack, but honestly you dont NEED to bring anything, just go, coo over the baby, listen to mom tell her birth story ( if she wants to) and tell her she did great. Hold off on the advice and such unless they ask.

    Here is something I need to say though. ( yeah, all caps are needed) DO NOT, I MEAN JUST DONT take it upon yourself to announce the birth of a friend's baby, the baby's name or pictures of the baby on facebook, twitter, emails etc unless Mom has asked you to do so. It is seriously stealing thunder to post on a new parents FB wall " Happy Birthday new baby so-and-so before the parents have that opportunity. Its just RUDE.

    • True! I was taken to the hospital via ambulance with no time to grab my phone or laptop, and couldn't get to the internet until my baby was 4 days old. Several relatives went and wrote the details on my facebook wall, blabbing that we'd had a girl (we hadn't known the sex) and it bothered me that I couldn't even announce my own baby's birth. I asked my sister to ask each of them to delete their writings, but it was kind of too late. Thunder was completely stolen. Do not publicly express congratulations until the parents announce the baby!

      4 agree
    • Not only that, but you might not know the situation between family members/friends/exes/spouses/etc. There could be abusive people in the mom's life who might try to visit if it's announced by a well meaning visitor and having to deal with that would sully the mom's time to get to know her baby! If people have to mention something on facebook, I'd recommend keeping it to "excited to visit (mom'sname)!" until she announces it herself, in her own time.

    • I agree do NOT mention anything on social media (not even a vague "So excited to visit (mom's name)!"). I didn't have my computer when I had my first child and some distant relatives of my husband showed up unannounced, (faux pas #1) whipped out a camera and took pictures without asking (faux pas #2) and then posted them on Facebook before I even had a chance to announce my child's birth (faux pas #3). We'd kept the sex and the name a surprise and she totally stole my thunder. As my due date approached with baby #2, I told friends and family not to post anything on Facebook (not even that I'd gone into labor) until I did first and then it was all fair game.

      As for what to bring, lunch or dinner food (hospital food is usually bad) and snack food (since you're up at all hours and always hungry) is definitely appreciated. Gifts of any kind are always appreciated, but I agree with others who suggest waiting to give gifts when the parents get home. You don't realize how much stuff you end up with in your hospital room until it's time to pack it all up at discharge.

  10. My due date is in May and this is a great post! I am thinking I would like food (since you are not supposed to eat in labor) …I love flowers and everything but I think I would find them not practical at that time. So food is the winning thing in my mind ^_^

    1 agrees
    • You can eat in labor, no problem. The question is "can you keep it in your stomach". πŸ™‚

      Perhaps the "don't eat in labor" advice depends on the hospital, but I was allowed to eat.

      2 agree
      • Yep, it's a rule that some hospitals/doctors make because of a few factors:

        Not wanting to get thrown up on if the contractions get bad.

        Not wanting to embarrass the mom or deal with the mess of a bowel movement during pushing–hello, probably unavoidable because it's hard to push out the bowel movement without "pushing" the baby if you've already started labor!

        In case of emergency C-section, other surgery requiring anesthesia, other medication situations.

        But really, other than the hospital's convenience, there's been no reason found for a mom not to eat while in labor.

        • My midwife's website includes food and snacks on the list of stuff to have ready for labour.

          1 agrees
    • Not "allowed" to eat in labor, more likely. You definitely SHOULD eat in labor if you're hungry. You should have a small snack immediately after delivery and then a larger meal within two hours of giving birth.

      3 agree
    • Our hospital had a "not allowed" to eat in labor rule but my doctor encouraged it. I definitely ate during labor, it was fifteen damn hours, that's a long time to have nothing in your system doing the hardest work of your life. I know I at least had a muffin, a sandwich, and an apple in that time and I'm glad I did.

      You should eat in labor if you want to. It's a dated rule not backed up by research. And I think it's a mean rule to give to a hugely pregnant laboring woman!

      3 agree
      • The hospital I went to (an hopefully, in the next few weeks, will be going to again) actualy feeds you.

  11. I felt pretty overwhelmed by visitors–even ones I was happy to see because I was so physically exhausted from the lengthy labor and birthing process, trying to breastfeed, etc.

    What I would have loved to have?
    1). a pretty nursing-friendly nightgown (for breastfeeding moms)
    2). an adorable and practicle outfit for baby (always nice) in premie size–my daughter was unexpectedly small, and all her NB clothes were huge.
    3). comfort food. something you really like (maybe oreos? j.k)that you can't get at the hospital.

    Not to have?
    1). limit the photos!!! I felt so overwhelmed that everyone was snapping pictures and I was in a nightgown and was bleeding and felt super tired and not like getting my picture taken by everyone who visited. Unless it's prearranged or you ask permission, don't take a bunch of pictures of the new mom.

    2 agree
    • Yeah no offense, but a lot of moms look, well, like shit, after the birth and its the last thing they want to be photographed when theyre exhausted and bloated from IV fluids, etc

      2 agree
    • Amen. I was so overwhelmed and exhausted after being in labor for 36 hours and family and friends were pouring in the room and taking pictures before I was even all cleaned up. I was touched that everyone wanted to come see us, but all I wanted to do was sleep and to hold my baby. Instead I got no sleep and only got to hold my baby when he was hungry and trying to figure how to breastfeed. Needless to say, it was super frustrating.

      My advice (at least for all the other introverts out there): Text mom or the significant other (so they can reply on their own time) and ask if you can bring them some food. Drop by, say hi, smile at baby, and then let the new family hang out together.

      My grandma did bring chocolate chip cookies that saved my life during a frustrating figuring out breastfeeding experience. 'Twas marvelous πŸ™‚

      6 agree
  12. Do plan your visit ahead of time to make sure the family is ready for you. I concur with those who are saying to save the "stuff" until everyone is home. We were in the hospital for 5 days and getting out of there with all the flowers, balloons, and stuffed animals sent by well-wishers required my husband to make 3 trips to the car. It was nice when people offered to bring food as the hospital food wasn't great, but I didn't get my appetite back for quite a while, so your mileage may vary.

    All that having been said, my favorite was when we got visitors at home who brought food. It was so hard to keep myself fed in those early days, that I REALLY appreciated any and all gifts of sustenance (especially the homemade ones!).

  13. LOVE this post! I'm due in January and I would imagine food would be lovely and/or a drink from Sonic or 711! I definitely agree with the whole not bringing large gifts or giant bouquets or balloons, there's enough to carry to the car without adding to the load O.o I also wholeheartedly agree with not showing up announced, its just common courtesy and you may not wanna walk in on certain happenings so a quick call or text to see when's a good time will keep both parties out of an awkward or stressful situation πŸ™‚

    • Im having a baby in 11 days and anyone is welcome to bring me a 44oz cherry limeade from sonic.

      16 agree
    • Fancy soft drinks in pretty bottles are my go to birthing present for new mothers I don't know very well, and a ton of ready to eat fruit.

      1 agrees
  14. Definitely call first, I was thrilled to have people visit us in the hospital when I had my daughter but at one point I had about ten people in the room at once which was incredibly exhausting.

    One very awesome gift I received was a picture frame that had a spot for a picture of the baby each month from birth to 12 months, food is a great idea too I was always hungry in the hospital.

  15. Just to agree with other posters: check before hand and bring food. Or IOUs to bring food during the first few (often stressful) weeks after mom and baby have returned home.

    1 agrees
  16. After giving birth, we wanted to get out of the hospital ASAP and never planned to have visitors there. However, my good friend lived around the corner from the hospital and we got him to bring us burritos, because the labor had lasted much much longer than we had brought food for, and hospital food was Gross! It was the best burrito I've ever tasted.
    In general, I'd say that unless they asked you to come to the hospital or asked you to bring something, don't assume you should do either.

    1 agrees
  17. I think food would be the best! We left the hospital as early as possible, and I won't deny that the crap food was a factor!

    Also, yeah, call to make sure you are welcome! My daughter was born at 4:30 AM and at 9:30, my husband's aunt and uncle came bursting in, shouting gleefully about how could we possibly be sleeping so late! That was only topped by my uncle-in-law telling my husband he should have asked the doctor to "sew me up tighter" when stitching my episiotomy D:

    Actually, having just seen it in the comment above mine, I'm going to go with "In general, I'd say that unless they asked you to come to the hospital or asked you to bring something, don't assume you should do either." There's no reason for you to NEED to be at the hospital, and parents/baby will be much more comfortable and happy to see you a day or two later at home.

    4 agree
    • Ugh! I'm sorry your husband's uncle is such a creep! I would have flipped out. Yuck.

      5 agree
  18. I enjoyed the Visits from my Dad (who brought my favorite chocolates), my BFF (who took the random gifts home for me that other people brought!) and the company of my mother and husband…. could have done without all the other people who stayed for hours on end.

    a short visit, with a practical gift (ie foods, gift certificates, other SMALL portable items) are sweet… bringing me a bag of clothes and 12 balloons and staying over an hour is thoughtful and appreciated but not practical at the time.

    • Haven't had my baby yet, but I would think having a friend that will transport some of the over-sized gifts would be beneficial. The idea of getting a tiny human being in a car seat AND making several trips to transport gifts is not very appealing.

      2 agree
  19. Whenever I'm visiting friends or family in institutional settings, I bring "investment gifts" — not for the mom/patient, but for their caretakers (teachers, nurses, etc). Easily shareable, pre-portioned foodstuffs are usually good — donuts, chocolates, danishes, appetizer-type things people can grab on short breaks. Also good: a big bowl of candy/chocolate for the patient's room, with a sign encouraging visitors to take some. While a true professional would never stoop to being swayed by such small indulgences, it never hurts.

    4 agree
  20. Ask if you can borrow their keys (if you know them reasonably well) go round to their house and do a bit of a clean and fill the fridge. We ended up staying in hospital six nights with a c section (DH stayed with me) and when we got home at 5pm the place was musty, the bins were full, there was laundry everywhere and nothing for dinner. It was really depressing and I would have loved if someone offered to spruce the place up before we got there. Even a quick vacuum, empty the bins, air the place out and stick a couple of ready to eat meals in the fridge would be great. Laundry would be even better!

    10 agree
    • Great idea! My sister-in-law had some meat thawing in the fridge that got a little rank when her & her husband were gone for a few days because of a c-section. Doing a little fridge check would've been very helpful.

    • Yes! We left abruptly for what we thought would be a quick labor (only to have it last for 2 more days!) and my mother-in-law stayed at our house. It was relatively clean when we left, but stuff was out of place in our scramble to get out the door. She tidied up while I was laboring away so we came home to a freshly vaccumed house, spotless kitchen, and our bed was nicely made. I can't begin to describe how much better that made me feel- I'm the type that cleans our house from floor to ceiling before we go on vacation so I can come home to a clean house.

      1 agrees
  21. Snacks, blankets, socks (with the tread thingys on the bottom) or slippers, hair ties (or clips or headbands), comfy pajamas, movies for mom and dad to watch (if there's a dvd player in the room).

    2 agree
  22. Soft tissues are nice. I did a lot of crying, and hospital tissues are shit.

    Pajamas and clean undies. Absolutely.

    And possibly something unrelated to being a mom or the baby. I got lots of mom and baby gifts and I really would have appreciated a book or a magazine.

    And like everyone else has said, make sure you're welcome to visit. There were absolutely times where I didn't want to see anyone.

    3 agree
    • My sister brought me the sweetest present. She found a Jane Austen action figure. She brought me a gift that was directed to Mistie the person, not Mistie the mom. It made me feel really loved and special.

      2 agree
    • Second the reading material idea. I had a hard time getting the sleep I really needed because I just couldn't unwind my brain. With my husband trying to sleep on the couch watching the TV wasn't an option. It also helped me feel for a few minutes like I was still my own person, not just someone's mom.

  23. When my bestie had her baby i got them matching fuzzy socks… She said it was the best present ever !

  24. I was in the hospital for four days and I was DESPERATE for people to visit me and entertain me. My relatives came the first afternoon and friends started visiting on day 2, after texting ahead.

    The food at my hospital was decent, so I didn't need outside food, but OH FOR A PEOPLE MAGAZINE (or similarly light magazine). Bring light entertainment reading. I was SO BORED. πŸ™‚

    1 agrees
  25. My dad gave us money for food outside of the hospital.He told us it was better then flowers. Lol

  26. If you know you're visiting a family with a baby who needs a lot of medical care, don't bring a camera and don't even ask to come if you're not invited! I'm due at the end of January, and we know our little guy is going to be spending a lot of time in the NICU…which means we will basically live at the hospital until he's ready to come home. As much as I want to celebrate and revel his birth, I know that tons of photos of medical equipment and him in less-than-awesome shape (to say nothing me me and my husband in less-than-awesome shape) are kind of the last things we'll want. Cameras are going to be completely banned, unless we specifically give permission, and we are going to flat-out refuse visitors at the door unless they were invited. Sounds harsh, but we know we'll need the space and control in an otherwise restricted and completely out-of-our-control situation. If they bring food, we might just snag it before we boot them, however!

    1 agrees
    • I wanted to put this out there — my own son spent a month in the NICU. We took photos of him there, with and without equipment (including an IV in his head), even when we didn't know if we wanted to, and asked nurses to take photos of the three of us together, even when we were totally scared about his situation. We took photos of his first bath of his life, even though it was a sponge bath. We took photos of the whole thing. Without knowing the details of your upcoming NICU time (and you donm't have to share them or agree with anything I'm saying) I will say in my experience, I'm so so so glad we have that time documented and can remind ourselves of how small he was and what a strong fighter he was. Two and a half years later it's still sometimes sad or scary to remember that time and the NICU, but I'm glad we have the photos. I agree about not wanting the NICU to feel like a circus, but I do suggest that you guys consider taking a few shots. πŸ™‚

      1 agrees
      • I agree. My birth happened in emergency circumstances, and I was so out of it I hardly remember anything from the first few days/weeks. I wish someone had taken photos of at least the baby in those early moments. Even though it wasn't very pleasant, a year later, I now would be ready to look back on them.

      • Oh, we absolutely will! My biggest worry is that our shutterbug relatives will want shots of some random nurse changing his diaper, a doctor checking an IV, and other events that really need to be respected for the quiet, necessary events they are. He will be an absurdly-documented child, to be sure, just on our terms at the very beginning. Thanks for responding: it's always good to hear about other families who've come out the other end of the scary NICU tunnel!

        3 agree
  27. Not sure if someone else has suggested this (at work, no time to read all the comments), but might I suggest suggest some vases/old jars of different sizes, if you don't have enough? I've never had a baby, but I remember when I was in hospital, I quickly ran out of places to put all the flowers people sent me!

  28. -Text before you show up- Being in the hospital is a constant invasion of Doctors nurses, in laws and body issues. Give couples freedom to say: not right now.

    -Ask what you can bring by. Gift cards, good coffee, Pajamas- stretchy and comfy (are a great one!)- and ask what you can run out at get them.

    -Do they have a dog? Offer to dogsit for them for the next two weeks. Or if you can be their walker. It was the greatest gift our very cash poor friends could give us!!!

    -And let go of your agenda to hold the baby and linger. Make it a drop in if you are welcome to come by. If you get the cue that the couple wants you there (like sharing a lot, processing the birth, asking you questions) then stick around but otherwise be wary of being a nuisance.

    5 agree
  29. Do : Bring Food! the hospital forgot to feed me during my 2 day stay. I was so happy when my Father in law brought me a turkey sandwich.
    If the new parents don't have a lot of money, thier PJ's might be in disrepair, so new pj's (button front is nice for breastfeeding) or a lightweight robe would probably be appreciated.
    Your time is probably as good as anything else. If Dad is having trouble sleeping at the hospital, he'd probably like to go home and nap or take a shower, so if you have time, offer to hang out for a bit.
    On the other hand…
    Bear in mind that there might not be room in a shared hospital room for 6 flower arrangements, and getting them home might be a problem.
    It should go without saying, but please dont expect the new mom to share her snacks with you. Even if she's getting meals, hospital food is awful, and she might be revolted by her next meal.

    1 agrees
  30. My wife just gave birth Friday after a ridiculous 62 hour labor, and so we were both just so exhausted. Her family brought us cookies, but they went out for dinner together during labor and we really wished they'd ordered something for us. By the time we got to recovery, the hospital cafeteria was closed and we were starving. Also her parents slept at our place while we were in the hospital, and it was great they watched our dog, but it sucked to come home to sheets they hadn't even stripped and to have to remake the bed just so we could collapse into it. I also wish they would have washed the towels they used or replaced the food they ate!! They did at least vacuum and take out the trash, so that is something.
    At the hospital, the best present was a giant blue Gatorade because we were so dehydrated and the hospital only offered juice.

    3 agree
    • Oh Zach. Thats not cool. My sympathies. But congrats to you on the birth of your baby!

      1 agrees
  31. The day after Tavi was born, my dear friend (a nurse who spent time working in NICU for years) came to visit us … and brought a huge box of doughnuts for the nurse's station. Those were the HAPPIEST NURSES EVER all day!

    7 agree
  32. I wouldn't go visit a new mom in the hospital unless she VERY specifically invited you. If she does want you to visit, bring food…snacky things that can be eaten with one hand are great. The only edible food at the hospital when my son was born was a little fruit, cheese and nut plate. They were really stingy with them, too. Seems like I should have had unlimited access to cheese and nuts for the $20,000 I was billed for that little stay.

    3 agree
  33. My friends brought me chocolate & homemade castille soap, both of which were much appreciated. Would've loved snacks or gift cards/certificates for restaurants.

    1 agrees
  34. Our hospital has dial-a-menu for the moms, but nothing (free) for anyone else, so I always bring a basket of fruit, trail mix, granola bars etc. for the support people. Also for the moms, because I would order everything I could and I would be STARVING by the next meal. One time I packed the "basket" in a nice clean plastic bag so there wouldn't be extra stuff to carry home.

    1 agrees
  35. Food and entertainment… good friends brought me sushi in the hospital (YAY!) and my husband went out to find a deck of cards at one point. Trashy magazines and easy-reading books would also have been fun.

    Personally, I didn't want gifts of sweet and sugary foods… I felt like the hospital food was horribly refined as it was, and let's just say that extra fiber is a VERY good thing after giving birth. I really appreciated whole wheat crackers, orange juice, and fruit.. not so much the cookies.

    One nice "gift" that a family member gave me– at my request, she posted a few pics of me and the baby on my Facebook wall. I live far away from most of my family, so this let them get their first glimpse at the baby, while my husband and I were still too zonked (or just too stuck in the hospital) to post anything!

    1 agrees
  36. I just had my daughter November 30th =D
    One thing that I'd have loved was a set of pjs (the kind with some buttons up top would be extra awesome for breast feeding).
    Offering to drop off some of the gifts to their house before they go home would be great too. We had to make 2 trips to the car because we just didn't have enough hands.
    My sister brought us dinner one of the nights, which we loved because the hospital food that they gave me for dinner that night kinda stunk.
    A lot of people wound up bringing candy snacks (yum!). Any snacks would be good for any family members waiting/visiting. I had to get stitches so I was really nervous about eating because of what my first #2 would be like. They encouraged me to eat extra fruit & veg so my husband brought me some cans of V8 and some clementines.
    The last thing I can think of is maybe a camera to snap some pictures of mom/so and the baby (as long as they're not exhausted- just offering will be nice). We didn't do much of this because we were both exhausted and we just wanted to snuggle her and not think about anything else. My sister took a lot of pictures on her phone, but none were taken with an actual camera.

  37. These are all fantastic suggestions! Way to go!
    My only question is – and maybe this has been talked about already on OBM – how do you get everyone else to respect your wishes as a new mom? Us offbeaters are pretty respectful and have the forethought to do any one of these things….but how does one effectively say "Thanks for wanting to stop by but I'm so tired and hungry I want to simultaneously sleep forever and eat an entire pizza, so go away"?

    1 agrees
    • I didn't have too many people trying to visi (we asked our friends that we told about me going into labor not to post it online anywhere- to avoid unwanted/too many visitors), but when I was exhausted and my best friend wanted to come I just said 'I'd love to see you but I'm deliriously tired and need to sleep. Can you come to the house after we get home?" I eventually did wind up telling her to stop in the next day, but she was kind enough to stay a short period of time.
      Another way I avoided visitors was to say 'We'd love for you to meet her and see us, but we're both exhausted. We're trying to catch up on rest, but maybe sometime in the next few days will work- we'll keep you posted =]

      1 agrees
  38. As a Labor and Delivery nurse, I second the advice to wait until the family is home. Most moms have 24-48 hours after a vaginal delivery and 72 after a c-section to recover, learn to care for their baby, rest, and then pack everything up and go home. And new mamas need to sleep during the day (not visit!) because they almost certainly are not sleeping at night (babies are nocturnal!). If they really really want you to visit in the hospital, don't bring flowers–in a small room they often are overwhelming to smell, and hard to transport home. I absolutely concur with the easy food to eat with one hand, and a pizza their first night home.

    2 agree
  39. My dear friends were the first in our group to have a baby a few months ago. Here's what they did:

    1. Before the baby was born, we had a conversation as a group and asked the Dad to let us know when they wanted visitors and what we could do. We're a very small, tight-knit group, and Dad knew that we'd be happy to stay away if that was their preference.

    2. When Dad texted to say they were ready for visitors (thankfully, Mom had a very short labor with a full night sleep before – the lucky duck!), he just let one person know. That person called the rest of the group, coordinated small groups of 2 or 3 for short visits, and determined who should bring what. The first group brought lunch (requested by both parents). The second group brought Mom's favorite premium chocolates (which she dug into immediately). And the final group brought entertainment (in the form of a magazine and some DVDs).

    3. We showered the new Mom with compliments. To be fair, she really did look incredible.

    4. While we took a few pictures, we held onto them and didn't share anything online. We figured (correctly) that our friends would post plenty of pictures of their own!

    3 agree
  40. A few people have said to me, "Oh, I won't waste money on sending you flowers".

    Now, I'm as practical as the next person, possibly even more so. But dammit, I want flowers. I've never gotten a real, proper bouquet of flowers in my entire life, because I'm surrounded by lots of equally practical people buying practical things as gifts. Which is lovely, and appreciated. But I want flowers, JUST THIS ONCE.

    Uh, moving on, food is big on my list. And wine. I'm not a big drinker, but I'm a bit of a wine snob, so going 9+ months without a glass of aged Merlot or Shiraz is basically torture. Frozen meals for post-hospital sounds brill, but since I'm allergic to a decent amount of stuff, I don't expect people will try it.

    My aunt, who lives in another state, is buying us a gift voucher for a nice local restaurant. Some hospitals in Australia give you a "night off", where they give you three or four hours of basic baby sitting while you and your partner go out for dinner. I'm not sure if I'll want to leave my new baby for that long so soon, or not, but I think it's a lovely idea.

    2 agree
  41. I had to have a C-section. Someone asked what they could bring for me and I said granny panties! The waistline for the normal bikini cuts I had hit exactly on my fresh oozy scar. I make a C section kit for my friends with vitamin E oil, thick pads for the lochia, thin pads for the tummy scar, and some pretty, but high wasted, panties to get through the next few weeks of healing

    2 agree
    • I'll second this. A friend who recently gave birth via an unexpected c-section said that her fiance had to run out for high-waisted underwear, so I've bought some just in case. The vitamin E and pads is genius too!

      1 agrees
  42. Yes, food! Labor is a workout and I was STARVING afterward, plus breastfeeding requires lots of calories. Yummy food is great. Or nothing – just yourself. Don't bring anything to do… I thought I would want to read or watch TV but all I really did was hold the baby, feed the baby, sleep.

    1 agrees
  43. I agree with a lot of the comments about not visiting unless you ask or are invited. Keep the visits short, and offer to leave the room when it's feeding time just in case. My husband's family came and stayed way too long, and wanted to chat with him about random topics. I got mad, and had to ask him to please pay attention to ME, and help! I was so overwhelmed with the lack of sleep, drugs, pain, and seeminly constant breastfeeding. I wanted everyone to go away!

    Also, maybe offer to help out with getting packed up and ready to go home. I had a heck of a time getting all the crap people brought out to the car. the nurse and I each pushed a utility cart to the patient pick-up area, and I had just had a cesarean.

    Seems like a lot of people want to visit for their own entertainment, and desire to hold a tiny baby. That's not really what a new family needs. Do i sound bitter? ha!

    4 agree
    • YES! I'm all about the babycrack, but there needs to be respect for the family. A baby is not a puppy, and visiting for your own "must hold/smell/love/imagine self with baby" needs is selfish.

  44. While my friend was in labor, I brought a battery operated fan and a soft headband. I also pay for pandora so I gave them my account info so she could listen to music without commercial interruptions. I was in the room the majority of the time and made sure when her husband fell asleep that he was covered up with blankets and that he took time to eat. Then after the baby came via emergency c-section, I brought food, tea, toiletries, peppermints, clothes for when he is about 10-12 months, a handmade sign for his nursery, and I brought it all in a laundry basket that matched his nursery that they could use to carry stuff out of the hospital and use in his nursery.

    4 agree
  45. Not necessarily at the hospital, but whenever we visit a new mom and baby for the first time (at home, hospital, wherever), in addition to whatever baby gift(s) we give my wife always gives the mom a spa gift card, usually to Red Door or somewhere similar that offers a range of services from massages to hair cut/colors so they have a choice of indulgences. Her philosophy is that everybody brings baby gifts, but very few people remember to bring "holy crap, you just gave BIRTH!" gifts. (Or as she puts it, "the mother did all the work. Why should the baby get all the gifts?")

    1 agrees
  46. I asked my aunt and cousin to bring me some fruit to eat. They brought me a whole pineapple. Um … How am I supposed to eat that in the hospital?

  47. To Leave (until the home visit):
    -Stuff. We went in with a suitcase, we came out with a suitcase, and four of those hospital trash bags full of random cards, toys, flowers, etc. It was difficult to bring back in, too, and with ice all over the road.

    To Bring:
    -A call ahead invitation (because honestly, most folks are in and out unless you know they are having complications)
    -Food! Or maybe just wait and surprise the new parents with a dinner on their first night home, which is usually the most disjointed.
    -Maybe an offer to sit up with a baby while mommy takes a shower or catches a nap, or to change a diaper, or whatever. I just wanted to go for a walk, but I couldn't take the baby further than the end of the hallway, so I was bored while my husband was at home finishing the nursery for us.

    1 agrees
  48. I gave birth in a hospital and they had surprisingly good food. My mother brought flowers and a balloon and I'll always remember them and how good they made me feel – I kept that balloon pinned to our nursery wall for over a year. That sort of gift made me feel like a champion. My baby was really all that I needed, but gifts for ME would have been extra nice. A luxuriously piece of lounge wear clothing or a nice organic beauty product. Sounds vain but you understand if you just had a baby!

    1 agrees
  49. I would have loved to have visitors! It was just me and the baby in the hospital for two days, and newborns sleep all the time! I was so lonely and felt so hideous in that gown with my hair a mess. I would have loved to see a friend come by with a cute nightgown and robe and offer to hold the baby while I showered and changed.

  50. Why do people HAVE to visit just after someone gives birth? I made it clear to everyone that visitors were not welcome. It sounds mean, but I had a difficult delivery and my son was having a hard time nursing. We needed that bonding time. I think visits should wait until after everyone is settled at home.

  51. Wait till they come home to visit unless specifically asked, in that case food is a good idea. So many of DH's relatives visited right after DD was born, it was tiring. I wanted to spend the time with my daughter not DH's relatives. When you visit later, do something helpful so the new Mom doesn't feel like she has to entertain you. It was when DD was a few weeks old that I really wanted visitors. DH was at work, and I was lonely and couldn't keep up with chores.

  52. To address the problem of people posting pictures and announcements on Facebook before the new parents have a chance, my friend set her FB page so nobody could post comments or add/tag pictures starting the week or two before she went into labor. (She also did this when she told a few people that she was pregnant but hadn't told everyone yet.) It doesn't stop people from posting it on their own FB page, but at least you won't come home to pictures of your new baby and congratulations from people all over YOUR page. And hopefully those people who are obnoxious enough to post your baby announcement on their own page aren't also friends with all of your friends and family. (If they are, unfriend them NOW!)

  53. Ask! It depends so much on the person and the circumstances. But with us for example, I had my daughter at 7:30 pm and pretty much hadn't had anything to eat that entire day (they wouldn't let me) and by the time I was in my room the cafeteria was closed. We had some snacks and stuff, but the last thing I wanted was another granola bar or or cookie or anything, I wanted a REAL meal, like steak and a baked potato.

    We didn't have hardly anyone around to come visit, but one friend did bring a cute baby outfit and that was nice. Another suggestion I would have if you know she will be breastfeeding is lanolin. I didn't bring any or even try it for months, but OMG best stuff everrrr!

  54. I'm having my first baby in June and if all goes well, at home. I think what I'll appreciate most is freezer lasagnes and casseroles. Also the advise about too many people is good to know! My five closets friends live about 2 minutes away and will want to be there ASAP. It'll be wise to tell everyone to ask us first or make a visiting schedule or something.

  55. The last thing I anted was another gender-themed nicknack from the hospital shop.my favourite gift was a nice tin of special tea!

  56. I once brought a friend who was having baby #2 some flowers — and a baby doll for the older child, so she could have her own baby while Mommy had the new baby. My grandmother did the same thing for me when I was little, and I still remember carrying my baby doll in a backwards backpack like it was a snuggly!

  57. Hey guys, I'm a new parent and I'm trying to get my three month little one to sleep longer during night. Currently I'm fortunate to have four hours rest each night. Regards

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