In the comments for “how to be a good friend to a new mom” we got a lot of awesome comments and suggestions. This was one that particularly full of good advice…
In the first couple of weeks after giving birth, I found myself showered with food, presents, and presence. But it was really after the six weeks passed that I found myself quite alone — people weren’t visiting anymore, but it was still hard for me to get out with a newborn. This is the best time to be there for your friend.
Here are some of my major don’ts, that you could help manage if you’re there with your friend:
1. Calling is sometimes pretty awkward with a newborn
Phones wake them up. Feeding while talking is a skill that needs to be mastered. And frankly, I was in no mood to talk on the phone to anyone for the first month. Texts and emails are great and can be juggled at the same time as a baby! Also, in terms of frequency of such things, keep up the pace you have now, and let your friend tell you if that’s not working for her.
2. Don’t give advice unless actually asked for for it
I don’t give two kahoots about what your sister’s kids ate, how your own mum (or fiance’s mum) fed you, or how you know some kids who didn’t sleep. New parents hear enough unsolicited advice from people — their friends don’t need to join in on the act.
3. If you have a big present, it can probably wait until the baby comes home
But if you do get gifts sent to your hospital room, something that I found super-helpful was people offering to take things home from the hospital for me. My daughter was showered with gifts, and my parents and husband did several trips back to my house just with “stuff.” If your gift can wait (and they probably all can) just gift it once your friend is back at home with the kiddo.
4. Outstaying your welcome
Unless specifically asked to stick around, visitors get 45 minutes tops if it’s just for a sit and chat. In my experience, by that time everyone is over it. Don’t feel bad by suggesting to other visitors that it is time for them to leave.
5. Not sticking to the time your friend suggests
My BFF never managed to show up on time, and it drove us batty.
6. Talk about getting “my fill of baby cuddles”
Babies aren’t commodities, just tiny people who mostly just like to be with their mums. This also includes randomly taking the baby far away from their parents at a party — feel free to rescue the baby from the overbearing baby cuddler.
7. Making jokes about “the baby is ruining everything”
Avoid making these kinds of “jokes.” And, if you’re within earshot of other people making snide comments, feel free to stomp on them.
So what SHOULD you do?
3. Helping out when you can
Feel free to offer specific help when you are there. “I’ll hold the baby/entertain the toddler/whatever while you shower/go to the bathroom/look at your phone for five minutes.” Even with close friends and family I always hesitated to ask if they could help me out.
If your friend badly needs a nap and you don’t really have to be anywhere, don’t give her a time limit. She probably won’t sleep even if she wants to (chances are she’ll wake up when the baby cries anyway).
Make yourself at home at your friend’s house, and do what you can for yourself. Making your own drinks, doing some dishes, etc, all really helps. I also find it is 250% easier if the guests come to my house for dinner, coffees, or whatever.
Last but not least, everything changes a lot after your friend has a newborn. But try to still include your friend as you would any other time… just know that the baby may have to come along too.
What are you DON’TS for friends when you have a newborn?