Postpartum is one of the most challenging seasons of a new mom’s life, especially if it’s her first child. Not only will she be recovering, but she is also entering an entirely new chapter in her life. She may be in pain, she is trying to learn how to be a mom, and she has people wanting to come over to visit the new baby during this critical time of transition. It can be a stressful time, but she may not know what to tell you about visiting. Here are some thoughts a newly postpartum mom really wants you to know but probably won’t say.
Secret Thoughts of a Postpartum Mom
She is not going to entertain you and shouldn’t have to.
If you want to visit after a new mom has a baby, that is cool, but don’t expect her to entertain you. She’s tired, sore, and recovering. Delivering a baby, recovering from it, and getting used to being a mom is an overwhelming time with a lot of trial and error. She’s just exhausted. She shouldn’t be expected to shower you with attention, food, and activities while you’re there. She may not even be a great conversationalist, but she will still appreciate your effort! Talking to another adult can be exciting during this time. Make sure to ask her how she is doing in addition to asking about the baby.
She is not going to hide in another room to breastfeed while you’re there.
I was camped out with my baby on the couch for a lot of the time during the postpartum period. I would breastfeed her there because it was the most comfortable. A new mom shouldn’t have to hide in another room to breastfeed just because she has visitors. She shouldn’t be expected to cover up either unless she wants to. If it bothers one of you, you can go help in another room while she breastfeeds.
She might not tell you when it’s time to leave, but you shouldn’t stay long.
New moms and babies have lives that cycle in about two-hour increments. An extended visit during this time is not possible. Even though she may not tell you when it’s time to go, be sure to pay attention and keep your visit short. Again, she’s tired.
Please do not just show up.
When you have a baby, you are on their schedule. Do not just pop by for a quick visit after a mom has just given birth. Their schedule is probably very delicate at this point. You need to plan your visit and be prepared in case it needs to shift. Kids are great at screwing up schedules too.
Be really careful about germs.
New moms are super protective of their babies. If she is okay with you holding the baby, make sure to wash your hands first. You do not want to risk introducing the little one to something that you could have avoided. New moms have enough to worry about without their baby getting sick right away.
Of course, she’s hungry. Bringing food will not be turned down.
New moms are starving, especially if they are breastfeeding. Bring her food. Always bring food. She will eat it. Something different will be welcome since she has no time to cook. Ask ahead of time what she would like to eat.
Do not comment on the state of her body or her house.
Of course, she looks tired, and her house is a mess. She knows it. Pointing it out will only make her feel self-conscious and wonder why she invited you over at all.
Tell her she’s doing a great job.
Those early days of postpartum with a newborn can be rough. New moms often question whether they are doing things right. You can help reassure her that she is doing a great job. A little encouragement can go a long way.
Don’t be pushy about holding the baby.
I was reluctant to let others hold my newborn, especially the first time around. New moms may not want to let everyone hold the baby. Do not force her to give up the baby if she doesn’t want to.
If you are sick, stay home.
Even if you plan the visit weeks in advance, do not visit a new mom if you don’t feel well. If you think your sniffles are just allergies, don’t come. You do not want to make her uncomfortable or get the new baby sick. A new mama has enough to worry about.
Ask if you can take pictures and don’t post them on social media without permission.
I have chosen to keep pictures of my kids off of social media. Even for moms who post pictures of their kids, it is their decision. Sharing photos of her baby around the Internet is a big no-no. Make sure to ask first if it is okay to take and share pictures.
If the baby starts to cry, give her to the mom immediately.
It is natural to want to help out a new mom. She’s tired, sore, and uncomfortable, but if the baby starts crying while you’re holding her, always give her back to mom. She will want to comfort the baby herself. Listening to her baby cry is a special kind of torture, while she knows how to help. Your intentions may be good but just give the baby back immediately, so she can do what she needs to do.
If you want to help, ask how you can.
You may have plenty of ideas on how you can help a new mom. Ask her what she needs. Offer to do things around the house or throw in some laundry while you’re there. Many new moms may not reach out for help, but she may open up if you ask her directly what you can do.
Don’t kiss the baby.
In recent years, this problem has been brought to light that people can infect babies with HSV-1 or herpes if they kiss them while having a cold sore. In addition to this risk, the mother just might not want you to kiss her new baby. She is worried enough about germs. The bottom line is not to do anything that makes the newly postpartum mom uncomfortable.
New babies are awesome, but you need to take care when visiting. The main things are not to be pushy about visiting and asking a postpartum mom what she needs. Make sure to be understanding about her still being in recovery and survival mode. She will greatly appreciate it!