A doula's advice: the dos and don'ts of visiting friends after they have a baby #How-To & DIY#It takes a village#babies#doula#friendships#new parents July 11 2011 | Guest post by Hunny Must… hold… baby! Photo by Vyctoria Hart. I'm the kind of person who starts foaming at the mouth when a friend goes into labor. I start counting the potential hours until I get to meet that new baby and hug that new mom. I also have personal experience with having a new baby, and being the overwhelmed new mom being bombarded with "Can we come over and visit?!?!?" before I have even left the hospital. I know how exciting new babies are. I know how much people want to see and smell them when they are brand new. I also know that being a good friend to new parents means taking the utmost care with a new and very delicate situation. As a postpartum doula, I'm here to tell you how you can be a good friend while you visit new babies and their parents. If you want to be extra kind to new parents, consider these dos and don'ts, but as with all advice on the internet: you know your situation and your community best — these are just suggestions. Wait for an invitation In the weeks before birth, let mom and dad know that you would love to help when the baby comes, and not to hesitate to call. Then: wait for the call. A Facebook wall post or text is an appropriate way to let them know you're available, but don't expect a quick response, and don't be butthurt if you don't get one at all. They are likely overwhelmed and exhausted. When you get that invite, stick to it When they say "Wednesday at 2pm," be there. Don't make a new mom wait for you when she could be taking a rare moment to sleep or shower. Don't be late and risk interrupting baby sleep. When you get there, either text to say you are there or knock ever so gently — don't rap, don't ring the bell. If you wake that baby, you'll feel awful. DON'T RING IT! By: darwin Bell – CC BY 2.0 Before you come over, be clean and prepared No sniffles, no diarrhea last night, no cigarette smoke on your clothes or hair. Call the parents or email them to ask if there is anything you can pick up for them at the store on your way over, or any food they would like. Related Post I had to learn to love my baby I hear my husband coming up the stairs with our four-day-old baby. I hide my head under the duvet and dread their entry to the... Read more When you have a newborn in your arms 24-7 it's nearly impossible to eat, let alone cook, so food gifts are king. Food in disposable casserole dishes is rad — new parents are not going to get around to washing and returning your Pyrex dish. And for goodness sake, if you cook them a meal in their home, do the fucking dishes. When you get there, do something Wash the dishes, wipe down the bathroom, fold baby laundry, empty the fridge of old food and take out the garbage. This is seriously the best thing you can do for new parents. If you need to, pack damp paper towels with cleanser sprayed on in a Ziploc in your purse/bag before you come over. When you use the restroom, just give it a wipe down on the down-low. Just do these things — the parents will likely say no if you ask them if they want you to. Not because they don't want you to but because they're trying to be polite. By: Katie Tegtmeyer – CC BY 2.0 Be calm, quiet, and patient I know you want to scoop that baby up and smell it. Here is the bad news: you might not get to hold the new baby on your first or second visit. New moms often don't want to let anyone hold the new baby, or baby simply won't tolerate it. But if you are a good guest, you will get other opportunities. Let mom know you would love to hold baby, but don't push the issue. If mom WANTS to tell you her birth story, listen Offer to write it down for her, even. But don't pry if she doesn't want to, and don't offer your own (if you have one) unless she asks. If it was traumatic or unplanned things happened, this is especially true. Don't bring young kids They can't be expected to be quiet and keep to themselves. Wait until the baby is older. Leave Seriously, don't stay long. Thirty minutes tops unless mom asks for more. Make up some sort of thing you have to go to, and let yourself out. In fact, if mom is really tired, don't stay at all, just drop off the food and go. Don't give advice unless asked I can't say this enough. When you do give that advice, tread lightly. As with all things offbeat, not every suggestion will be a good fit for every situation. Feel free to take the advice that feels like a right for you, and disregard that which doesn't. Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Hunny Hunny is mother to two girls, post-partum doula, and resides in the East Bay Area of California. PREVIOUS A Japanese house built especially for cats — and cat ladies NEXT How do I cut paper towels out of my kitchen habits? Show/Hide comments [ 86 ] As a new mom, I think I did myself in with trying to be polite… asking for help has never been my strong suit, and I would absolutely convince people to not help me when they visited even though I needed it. 1 agrees Reply I'm so nervous when it comes to this! I am due August 12th and I am HORRIBLE with asking for help from people- I'm even bad at it now, when I can't lift things. I just leave it there and start crying, all because I don't want to "bother" people for their assistance. 3 agree Reply OMG I am the same way, Ive finally decided to accept help when people offer, and even though its hard and i feel guilty i eventually feel better afterward. 5 agree Reply I actually made a list before Tavi was born: "Things we might need help with." I posted it on the fridge for visitors who asked if they could help. It was like … walk the dog, take out the trash, load the dishwasher. Little stuff I knew I'd forget in the moment if someone asked. 22 agree Reply Ah, genius! What a way to ask without asking bluntly! <3 I'm surely taking this advice. 1 agrees Reply Great article and I like this idea in particular! In "Purple Leaves, Red Cherries" we suggested making a Helping Box and putting it by the front door with some help notes inside. There were some hold-the-baby help tips though, for example: Make me a cup of tea and then hold the baby while I drink it! 3 agree Reply We were suggested this approach during our pre-natal class, even little things like "Wash a tea cup or two" that someone can do while the kettle boils is two less tea cups for you to wash later. I certainly don't expect anyone to be my maid but if a friend who asks "Can I do anything to help?" can be told there is a note on the fridge they can peek at if they'd like, then they can choose to help as little or much as they like! 7 agree Reply Ariel, what was on your list? Reply I have this problem, too. As a wedding gift, my mom hired one of her cousins to clean our house for like 6 months (best gift ever!). I already plan to hire her back for at least 6 weeks before and after the birth. That way, when I am seriously disturbed by friends' and family members' attempts to scrub our bathroom, I have a legit excuse to ask them to stop. It's not cheap, but it's not that expensive either. For me, it will totally be worth it, especially considering the state of my home after two months of nausea. 1 agrees Reply Great post! As a mom x2, I agree with everything you have here! 1 agrees Reply this would have totally been great if I had it when my daughter was born. We had a certain someone come over for a good 2 hours and do nothing at our place. She would just sit there wanting to hold our baby and make small talk. They were family so we would feel bad about asking them to leave. If I had this article, I would have totally printed it out and put on my fridge. Also, Ariel, I love the "list of to do things". 2 agree Reply Oh, those people. It's like, ok, I totally would like to just strip down and take a shower, or I need to take off my shirt to breast feed now. And I had some horrible post partum depressions, so sometimes I would just excuse myself and cry in the bathroom. 1 agrees Reply What a great list for us offbeat aunties, uncles, godparents, and friends! Thank you! 3 agree Reply I have no doubt that this list is accurate and honest to the experience of new parents. But I can't be the only childfree person who read it and thought, "fuck it, I'll wait for the Christening." 7 agree Reply Yep: the first few weeks are pretty intense and overwhelming for new parents. If dealing with frazzled brand-new parents doesn't appeal to you, delaying the first visit is a great option regardless of whether you're childfree. 5 agree Reply Totally. I mean, with other major life events I wouldn't want friends to barge in immediately afterwards and expect to be hosted. For instance if I'm moving, I'd ask a couple close friends to help, and expect the rest to stay clear til the dust has settled. If someone came over immediately and sat in the midst of my boxes expecting to be entertained, I'd think they were pretty rude. Don't see why a new baby should be any different. 12 agree Reply I was grateful for my friends (child free and not) who had more of a "We'll see the baby later" attitude…there is so much pressure from everyone else, I appreciated the people who weren't on my case! 3 agree Reply I'm so glad to hear this! I have a friend who just had a baby, and although she and her husband are great people, I'm fine with waiting until they decide to emerge from their "babymoon" before seeing the little one. 3 agree Reply I've been on both sides of this and I can say, I would much rather wait a few weeks to visit a new baby because by then, the mom and baby have had a chance to become a little familiar with each other and it won't feel so frazzled. I know that's how I felt anyway. When I had my kids, after about 6 or so weeks I felt more "in place" with the new baby and felt more up to having visitors. It's not to say everyone should refrain from coming over before then, but for a more "interactive" visit, a little later is better. 2 agree Reply As a recent new mom, I loved everyone who waited for the Christening. Between the sleep deprivation and trying to get a proper latch and just settling in with a whole new person, even the helpful visitors sometimes overwhelmed me. By the time my baby was 10 weeks old, I was way better at being myself again! 2 agree Reply It totally depends on the parents, though. My husband and I LOVED having visitors come by. It helped keep our sanity and feel connected when we couldn't muster the energy to leave the house. The only way to know is to ask! 2 agree Reply I agree with a lot of what is in this article, but Do Something? Meh. I want my friends to come visit me and my baby, not come and be my maid. It's nice if someone offers, but no one should feel like they have to help out just to come visit a friend. 5 agree Reply I was this way too. I just wanted to chat with someone about how cute the baby was. 14 agree Reply No one has to do ALL the Do's. Take what information you need and leave what your dont need. 2 agree Reply A great idea is to do a "food stork" googledoc group for new parents. Everyone who wants to make a meal and drop it off to new baby gives their email at the baby shower. When the baby is born a friend (who collected those emails) sends the announcement that baby has now come and new parents would like food left starting whichever day until whatever day. Food drop off times are scheduled for 30 minute periods. You bring food, in containers you leave or get the next person to pick up for you, do the dishes from the previous night and get the hell out of there. Everyone gets a glimpse of the baby, new mom and dad get free food and can pace the visits as they please. No phone calls beforehand, no awkward "too long" visits as the time has already been blocked off. Worked great for my friends and then everyone felt like the contributed without burderning the new parents. 8 agree Reply Awesome idea! 3 agree Reply There is also this- http://mealbaby.com/ and this- http://www.takethemameal.com/ A little more user friendly than a GoogleDoc for some. ðŸ™‚ Plus this way the parent(s) can specify which days they want meals and meal baby has an option for people to purchase gift certificates for take out which allows far away friends and family to get involved. 3 agree Reply PS- The above also give the parents a way to say "don't call/email us everyday because you want to know if the baby is born" or call us the next day with congrats because that is exhausting. Our friend will email you and let you know, and let you sign up for a time to see baby. 4 agree Reply great advice, couldn't agree more! We had some great advice from our nurse/doula as well (in the Netherlands you have a maternity nurse in your home to take care of you and the baby for about 8 days after the delivery): let people cook for you! We asked people to bring groceries and make dinner and everybody loved it! We could spend time with the baby while our guests were in the kitchen and had lovely and healthy meals, to share with our friends. 1 agrees Reply I don't know, I would feel like a horrible housekeeper if someone came to visit and did my dishes or took out my trash. Maybe I'm weird…Food gifts, though. Yes. 1 agrees Reply You know, I always felt this way, too, until I was suddenly attached at the nipple to a tiny, sleep-free person. Then I was like "hey friends, wanna wash a dish?" 5 agree Reply This is great advice! I have a friend due in August and haven't ever had a baby myself, so this was VERY informative for me. Thanks! 1 agrees Reply Oh my lord, you have just made me aware of how pushy-cleany my mom will be when I have my baby. As it is, she comes over to fold my clothes (which I hate — I can never find anything!) and cleans my kitchen. There should be an alt post to this one about ways to politely kick a person out (or just stop them from cleaning). 1 agrees Reply I banned my family (they live 800 miles away, and would have expected to stay with us) from visiting for the first month after the baby was born. Sounds brutal, I know, but I really wanted to protect my space and give us time to get used to the idea, if not really the reality, of being parents. 3 agree Reply I have the opposite feelings. One of my first questions to my mom after I told her the due date was "So you'll be moving in for August … right?" 1 agrees Reply My family is coming in from outta town for the new babies birth and I couldn't be more hacked off! No one offered to get a hotel! I have to arrange food and beds for 6 people! Not to mention my 3 year old gets kicked out of her bed. Wish I would have spoke up! now I get to come home to a house full! 3 agree Reply Call this madness off NOW! You still have time! The most amazing moment after my child was born was when the last relative finally left my house and I was free to get to know my baby. And I only had 4 houseguests (parents & in-laws) who were nothing but helpful. I will never allow that again. Your family has to at least get accommodations other than your house, or they are being just plain intrusive. They probably have no idea and might just need a friendly reminder (or not so friendly) that it is best for the baby and your new family that they stay somewhere else or even better, hold off on the visit until you have had a few weeks (or months) to adjust to breastfeeding, healing, sleeping, etc. 16 agree Reply Love this! The only thing that I would disagree on is "wait for an invitation" — we basically said, "we are too tired to think about inviting you. If you want to come, text or call and ask. If it's a good time we'll say yes, if not we'll say no. But we aren't going to call around scheduling everyone's visits." It worked well- we were very honest about when we could see people and when we needed to rest, and no one could be offended if they weren't invited over (in large families, this is key!) 4 agree Reply I totally agree with not waiting for an invitation. We did the same thing. Having people bring ready-to eat food (without us asking) was a great help. 1 agrees Reply I think "We don't mind having you over, but aren't going to contact you directly" COUNTS as an invitation in this context. 4 agree Reply I agree with this. We felt weird calling people to say "hey, wanna come meet my baby?". I'm also not sure (for me anyway) that the short visits thing. Some people stayed for really short visits, and we would clean the apartment and have snacks ready…then they'd only stay for a short time and we'd feel a bit bummed. But maybe that's just me – while I had a pretty traumatic birth, I was anxious to see people and spend time with them, but some people might just want their alone time. 1 agrees Reply Huh, I always wondered why none of our friends called and asked to come over and meet the new baby. I guess they were being polite and waiting for us to invite them. Oops. 2 agree Reply Also, DON'T bring a friend or two or three, even if they are mom's friend or acquaintance too. My sister in law brought two mutual friends to see me in the hospital after I'd had a c-section and horrible recovery, and it just was not OK. Although normally I would have liked to see them, I was not in any condition to socialize. 2 agree Reply My sister-in-law did this too! And then complained later that she didn't get to hold the baby long enough because her friends held it while they visited. Next time around…I'm drawing some boundaries and worrying about me, my babies and my husband and not about making sure everyone else gets time with the newborn. 2 agree Reply I'm not sure that all new moms would take kindly to household help. I mean sure, if I'm doing the dishes I'm not gonna complain if you help me dry, but if my friend just stopped by and started doing my laundry for instance, I'd be kind of embarrassed, and would feel the need to be like, "Oh, here let me do that!" when truthfully I would've been happy to let the dirty clothes collect until all my drawers are empty… Also, I have a certain way I like to clean different things. Like, if my good knives go anywhere near the dish washer, I get twitchy. I know it's the thought that counts, and people really want to help during this crazy time, but when it comes to cleaning – you hold the kid while I take care of the cleaning! 2 agree Reply I was totally the opposite…I was waaay more freaked out by people holding the new baby then having them clean up my stuff…and I'm picky about that! Sure, a lot of crap got put in the wrong drawers, some clothes were inappropriately washed but me caring about that went out the window when I was completely bitch-slapped by childbirth and new parenthood. 3 agree Reply Oh dear, I'm all for being polite and helpful guest and love to bring anyone food gifts, especially new parents, but this list makes it seem like we should worship and serve at the feet of our friends for having managed to reproduce. You had a baby, which was your choice, if you want I'll bring you some gifts and coo but don't expect me to automatically do your dishes and empty the bin. P.S. I did notice that lots of you would agree that you don't want your friends to be maids, which is reassuring… 10 agree Reply Karen, I think the issue is that this list is less of a "New parents, demand your friends do these things!!" and more of a "Dear friends, if you want to be extra kind to new parents, consider these suggestions." I'm not sure how this becomes you feeling like anyone "expects" you to "automatically" do anything. As with all things offbeat, not every suggestion will be a good fit for every reader. It's cool. As for me, when I visit my friends with a newborn, I ask them if there's anything I can do while I'm there. If they're like "omg, yes: could you help me switch the laundry while I nurse?," I do it as a sweet favor — just as I sometimes feed my neighbor's cat or pick someone up at the airport. I do these things not because anyone demanded or expected it, but because it felt right for me to offer — and they chose to accept. No expectations. No demands. Just friends supporting friends. Only you know what will work best for you and your friends. 12 agree Reply Ok, I had never heard of a meal train for new parents before, but I woke up to an email from a stranger today that "invited" me to make a meal, that met certain dietary preferences for a couple that is using a surrogate and hadn't even told me that they were expecting a child–in fact, they had told other acquantainces of mine but wanted those people to not share their news. In addition, they said that they might not want to see people who drop off food; so, they'd leave a cooler on their porch for deliveries. If I don't want to cook, I'm welcome to order from their favorite Indian restaurant, and they shared their favorite dishes from there, too. Also, I would be helping if I offered to do their laundry and dishes or walked their dog when dropping off the food. I'm obviously not close enough to these people–in fact I've never met one of the couple–to be told that they're expecting a child, but yet they'd appreciate me doing their laundry. It's appalling. I'm single and don't have kids of my own, but if you really need dinners made and maid services from March 27 through June 30, I don't think either of you are ready to be fathers. Reply If someone opened my fridge and started cleaning it out, I'd be like wtf?! ðŸ™‚ I also would take it as an insult if someone came over and cleaned my bathroom. But, I am a type-A control freak. When my mom came to visit when my son was tiny I let her hold him while I cleaned. It actually felt great to be able to accomplish things like laundry and let someone else hold the baby for a while! For me, the best visitors would bring food and care for the baby so I could have a break. Everyone is different, I guess. But I don't expect guests to do any housework…new baby or not, they are still guests. 4 agree Reply I did this too. I handed that baby off and started lugging laundry around. It made me feel "normal" and like I was productive and could be used for something other than nursing and snuggling. 2 agree Reply It also bears mentioning ( and I dont know why I didnt put this in the original post) that moms who have had C-sections may WANT to take out their own trash and stuff, but just plain cant. 4 agree Reply 100% agree there…I never wanted or expected my friends to be maids, but I was so so very happy when they offered to do that stuff for me when I could barely bend to load/unload the dishwasher (not to mention being banned from lifting more than 10lbs). My hubs works 2 jobs and went back 1 week postpartum, so my helping friends were my super heroes. And I have absolutely no problem doing the same for them someday when they have babies…or get the flu…or whenever they need a hand! 2 agree Reply AWESOME POST! 1 agrees Reply For those who feel a bit like "it was their choice to have the baby/I shouldn't be their maid" thing, I have an alternate way to think about it. Consider if a friend had surgery that made it incredibly hard for them to do all the things they'd normally do like cook and clean, and then think of how tired the recovery would make them. In my experience, it's a pretty similar situation minus the squirming little one demanding her attention at all times. It's not about kowtowing to the almighty New Parents but rather extending a helping hand if you want to–but only if you want to and in ways you're comfortable with! There are other ways to show your support as well…and there's nothing wrong with waiting until the new parents are out of the "holy shit this is intense" stage and are more comfortable with taking their baby out of the house. Here's some more things you might be able to do for them once the baby is a bit older that doesn't involve a lick of cleaning, etc: ~Once they're ready for it, accompany them on a short walk around their neighborhood ~Once they're ready to go to the market, offer to go with them to help get things ~Offer to watch the baby while they grab a shower or a short walk by themselves so they can get out of the house alone for even 10 minutes I'm sure there are more, but I just wanted to point out that there are many ways to support new parents without doing anything you don't want to do ðŸ™‚ 9 agree Reply I love these suggestions 1 agrees Reply The parallel, though, would be elective surgery. Would I help a close friend around the house after her boob job? Sure, because I love her and I support her doing whatever makes her life better. But any expectation that "I did this thing that I wanted to do and now I am entitled to your help" is bullshit. Same with babies. And I'll admit that by the 4th procedure I'm gonna be a little taxed on offering up free labor. (I don't think the original impost implied entitlement, but I'll admit it was a little overwhelming. I would have to be very close to someone before I came over and started cleaning. Bringing over a pizza, sure.) I've lost friends to the parenting black hole. We brought food and gifts, we did favors, we visited them and never the other way around… and still, they were an endless void of expectation and entitlement who made absolutely no effort to maintain the friendship on their end (including, like, sending a text once in awhile.) So, okay, bye then. 2 agree Reply Another suggestion for dropping off food – make a couple of big batches of something and freeze it in appropriate sized portions in disposable/give-away containers. Then you can drop it off to them and they can stash it in their freezer for the time (about 2-3 weeks in) where the visitors start to drop away but the parents are still pretty overwhelmed and exhausted. 11 agree Reply I would just add one more thing: pace yourself. Assuming that most people are in the standard one-parent stays home for at least a couple months while the other parent stays home for only a week or two, that stay at home parent gets lonely after a couple of weeks. After all, the baby isn't "new" anymore, so grandparents have gone home, the phone calls have stopped coming, and partner has returned to "normal life." But (normally) mom's whole life has been thrown for a loop, and a little human interaction and/or help is really welcomed for quite a while. I just remember being so so so isolated weeks 2-12 when I was exhausted, trying to cope, and physically recovering from birth. 6 agree Reply Yes THIS. Help is usually still needed after the new baby smell has worn off! 4 agree Reply THIS TOTALLY. I was so lonesome during my maternity leave and was absolutely dying for interaction but the calls and visits from far away family were done. It didn't help that it was winter. 2 agree Reply I actually had a harder time with the scheduled visits than the drop-ins. For the scheduled visits, I was often exhausted, because I had stayed awake when I should have napped because I didn't want to miss anyone. I missed some drop-in visits, which kind of bummed me out, but at least I got some sleep. For people dropping by, we left a note on the door that essentially said, please come in, don't knock cause we don't want the dog to wake the baby, and we're really tired so don't stay too long. But we really want to see you. 1 agrees Reply I think the hardest thing about being a momma was realizing that I had to put myself, my baby, my husband, our well-being and needs before any of our extended family. We have family that is very close to us and both my husband and I come from families with strong maternal influences who were both very used to us being available whenever they wanted. And I knew that by doing claiming my right as Momma In Charge, I was going to step on some toes because I had to drawn boundaries and say no to very eager grandparent visits. But at the end of the day…I'm the only advocate for my daughter and I have to make sure that I'm doing what is best for her and sometimes that meant closing our door to all visitors. And now…four months out, it has gotten a lot easier because I know my daughter, I know myself as a mother and I know what is best for my family and if other people can't accept our boundaries that is very sad for them. 5 agree Reply As a recent new mom, I've been thinking a lot about the help I had or didn't have in the first few weeks. I had a vaginal delivery with some hefty complications afterward. But three days after I was home, I started trying to "get back to normal life". This meant that I didn't accept some of the help that was offered, I tried too hard to do too much around the house, I found myself "entertaining" people who came over to see the baby, even if they brought food and cleaned up after themselves. I should have just let it all go and bonded with my son and not taken visitors at all for the first two weeks. ( That is what would have been right for me… not necessarily for everyone.) I find all of these suggestions above to be really helpful for the people coming over and I wish that I had been more capable of accepting the help I was offered when it was offered. My friends wouldn't have cared that the house was a mess, and that extra hour of sleep or time with my son would have been a lot more worth it. 2 agree Reply I've just had my baby, she's 2 and a half months premature (placental abruption and emergency c-section under general anaesthetic!) and she's now 3 weeks old. Just this week, I have cancelled all visitors, because I'm exhausted, I wrote a list today and for the past three weeks I have had back to back visitors with only a day or two off in between! My social life has been busier in the past 3 weeks than the entire year and it means I'm trying to fit friends in between visits to the neo-natal intensive care unit at the hospital to see my baby…crazy I know, and I'm still recovering from major abdominal surgery! I think those friends that came to hospital got a shock when they saw me struggling to get out of bed to go to the loo. This wasn't a normal birth, mostly I was/ still am in shock and worried that my baby would even survive on the outside so early, let alone celebrate her arrival. I just didn't know how to receive messages such as "Congratulations on the early arrival of your daughter" how is that something to congratulate? I wish she was still inside and would grow to a full term, healthy baby! I do really appreciate the support and food deliveries and lifts to the hospital (all good stuff) and honestly I didn't realise I had so many good friends, but all I want now is a long afternoon nap and someone to vacuum my house! 1 agrees Reply A question on this topic.. What if you are living very close to or with the new parents? I live in the top-floor apartment of my landlords' home, and they will be having a new baby in a few days. I'm good friends with them (but not incredibly close, and I didn't know them before I moved into the apartment), and I don't have a separate entrance so am consistently walking through their home and running into them. I'm sure the same issues apply to friends who live with new parents in communal housing. I want to help some with cleaning and cooking, but I don't want to set a precedent where I feel constantly obligated to help. I want to offer a few moments of grown-up talking as I come home from work, but I don't want to interrupt or interrupt mom-baby time or make the new parents feel less like a private family unit. I know that a lot of this depends on the people involved and the specific situation, but has anyone dealt with living with new parents without being close enough to them to be part of a "communal family" situation? Reply OK, I'm not in that situation, but I am a new mom, and this is how I think I'd handle it. When you come home, if you actually see them – say hello, chat briefly, and gauge their reaction. Are they hungry for adult conversation? Exhausted? Take your cues and either chat a bit longer or make tracks. Before you go, offer to help if they need it. If they are "being polite," on another day drop off some food for the freezer or ask if you can help with a specific task. Things I wish I could accomplish that the baby makes difficult: eating, showering, replying to e-mails and messages, reading, taking a walk, napping, getting something to drink, cooking, pumping breastmilk. If someone offered to watch the baby for anywhere from zero minutes (and they brought me a fresh glass of water) to an hour (and I could take a nap) that would be the greatest gift of all. Offer that mom the gift of a little free time and she will REALLY appreciate it. 1 agrees Reply We had our first baby when we were living with 3 other guys. It was fantastic and I loved the adult chatter as they were breezing around with their single lives devoid of nappy changes. Maybe occasionally offer to watch the bub while mum has a shower (she will love you for life with this one). If she's breastfeeding, offer a glass of water before you go upstairs, you can't move easily and I always got super thirsty so also a beautiful thing (prob also if bottle feeding, not the thirsty thing, the immovable thing). Other than that, just carry on as you are. We were always worried about our crying baby disturbing our flatmates sleep, so when they assured us it didn't that also made us happy, even if they maybe fibbed about it on occasion. Reply It's good to know I've been a good guest with my sister in law and brand-new nephew (now 3 weeks old). We even kept our visits in the hospital short-the day he was born we got a peek at the baby in the nursery window then extended our congratulations to the father and quietly left-leaving the grandparents to fuss over the new baby and mom. One additional piece of advice I'd give: If the mother is married or living with her partner, ask the partner if there's anything that needs to be done/any help needed. He or she will probably be more forthcoming than the new mom, because most women don't want to dispel the "Supermom" myth. Also, I'd keep calls to the new mom short-10 to 15 minutes max. I've called people post baby afterwards, mostly just to see how they're doing and to let them know I'm thinking of them, but I didn't get too chatty-I know they're busy getting to know this new little person. Reply When the most recent baby in my life was born, I wasn't super close to the mum and knew they didn't have a big freezer and their mum was staying a lot at the beginning so for some socially awkward reason I felt weird about taking over a casserole (what if she had too many?) and read that too much heavy food (like what a lot of people cook for new parents) after the birth can lead to constipation etc. SO I researched what was good for postpartum bodies – and found out that LOTS of fluids and fruit is good for breastfeeding and recovery. So the first time we visited I took a MASSIVE bag of easy fruit like grapes and pre-cut melon (got mad props for that, as it also gave them something to give guests) and the second time three large nice bottles of soft drink (pear juice etc, not coca cola!) Just in case anyone else is as weird as me and worried about taking a meal. 1 agrees Reply While I understand what is trying to be said here, I think that this is also SUPER cultural. I am Greek-American and my partner was Iranian (he has passed away). When my son was born, we had people (family and friends) everywhere all the time basically. Frankly, I loved it. I didn't have some of the lonely moments I hear a lot of "American" moms talk about. The idea that your nuclear family is independent and sort of sacrosanct is a cultural one. In some places/cultures, new mom and baby are part of the community from the get go–and often that works. I know it did for me. 2 agree Reply I think it can be different person to person as well. My sister in law is a social butterfly, and when her baby was 2 weeks old she called us and asked us if we wanted to come over and hang out for half an hour with her new family. I was a bit surprised, knowing she's a first time mom and getting started with nursing, but realized that she might like to have people to hang out with, so she doesn't feel so lonely. Reply I could not agree more with this list. A week after having my son, my inlaws (all 7 of them) invited them selves over for an entire week. I was over whelmed to the point of screaming. My house was a bomb, was no where to go to have a moment to think alone, and our cupboards were emptied. Never again.. 2 agree Reply Same situation! "Never again" is so right. Reply I know everyone is different and I havent been there yet, but if someone brought over wipes in a zip lock bag and wiped my bathroom on the sly I'd think "Shit, is my bathroom not clean enough for you?! I just had a baby! Sheesh" and be a bit offended 4 agree Reply This is difficult for me. I certainly would be happy for food but if anyone, other than 1 very, very close friend, went around cleaning my apartment – I'd be livid. And I'm not a Type A personality and my apt isn't very neat or tidy. So I'd tread lightly with the clean the house advice… 3 agree Reply "And for goodness sake, if you cook them a meal in their home, do the fucking dishes." Oh gosh, this. We had loads of well meaning grandparents come over to cook us dinner, then mosey out and leave us with a mess of dirty, disgusting pots and pans. It would have been better if they hadn't cooked at all. 2 agree Reply Also unless mom specifically invites you to visit her in the hospital after the birth do NOT show up! If she wants you there she will specifically request it, otherwise don't even think about it. 4 agree Reply I haven't been a new mother yet, so who knows what I'll actually think when the time comes but right now I love the idea of people coming and visiting in manageable amounts. As to the cleaning, I have Celiac which means I have to be careful about not getting wheat in my food, there is this thing called cross contamination which means if I wash something covered in wheat with a sponge and then my gluten-free pan then it's contaminated and has the potential to sicken. At any rate, someone cleaning my kitchen would cause me to panic unless it was one of my few friends I trust to know. Food would cause anxiety because then I have to think about what is in it, if it's safe and if there is anything the chef isn't telling me about it's contents through ignorance or forgetfulness. I have learned how little the average person actually knows what is in the food they eat. 4 agree Reply I am in a weird situation right now where I think once I have my baby (in October! eek!) that I don't think I will have much control over visitors. I currently live in The Netherlands but am originally from the UK. We are planning on having our baby in the UK for a variety of reasons which I won't go into just now, but I will be staying with my parents. I can see all of my extended family wanting to visit ASAP after the baby is born and my parents not thinking twice about restricting them in any way. I feel like I can't impose my own requests on them either as I will after all be staying in their home. Any advice on this one…? :/ Reply I love this list! I do not have kids, but I have many friends who are either pregnant or had a child over the past couple of years and I think this is really good advice for the friends/family members! I know some moms disagree with some of the advice here, but obviously everyone is going to have different preferences about cleaning/vs. not cleaning, length of visits, etc. The most important thing to take away from this post, to me anyways, is: Listen to the new parents and honor their requests when it comes to visiting! When I visited my friend in the hospital she had texted me and told me about the birth afterward. So I just asked her, "Do you want visitors? If you do, when is the best time for me to come? Is there anything you want me to bring you?" If you pay attention to a person's body language and what they're saying, you can usually figure out if they really want you to stay and chat for two hours, or if they're just being polite. Reply Something I loved is that when my husband's family found out I was being induced, they came over while we were at the hospital all day and cleaned our house from top to bottom. Another thing to realize is that some things are just physically impossible or even scary within the first week or two. My laundry room is in the basement and after an episiotomy and major bleeding, I was petrified to even try the stairs the first couple days (and I was told by the midwife to avoid them). One more thing I think is important is not to comment afterwards if anything you thought was 'strange' happened while you were visiting. My mom made a few comments that I had made my dad uncomfortable breastfeeding in front of him when they visited 2 days after he was born. I was exhausted, out of my mind, and had no clue what I was doing (it's hard to get them to latch at all at that point, much less when hiding under a blanket)- modesty didn't even occur to me. If something bothered you, wait until they do it again when they are awake/sane/normal again to comment. 2 agree Reply If you don't want to see breastfeeding don't come over!!! Also someone to help with older kids would be important. 1st time moms have been foucused on more in the discusion then 2nd. Ect but who needs the help most? All moms do no matter what round it is. 5 agree Reply Everything on this list is 100% and more true, for me at least. Great post/list/advise! Reply When I was home with baby the only real thing I wanted was someone to watch baby while I showered. Glad someone else mentioned it! 1 agrees Reply Love this. We've said for months that it'll be no visitors for at least the first 3 weeks as we'll need time to settle in and get used to having the baby here, plus the baby needs to get used to us! It's not been met with anything other than shock. However, interestingly the new mothers I have spoken to have all said that they wished they HAD banned visitors for at least a week. This article will be shared far and wide! Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Subscribe me to your mailing list No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.