Above: At Shaheen’s baby shower pre-Zain! So crazy how fast time flies!
Happy Wednesdsay, guys!
It’s Kendall here (with a few quips from Jess ?)
We’re back again with another post in our “Am I Doing This Right?!” series — today’s topic is a much-requested (and much NEEDED) one.
How to be there for your friend who just had a baby!
Your friend texts you the news: baby is here! You can’t believe how fast the time flew! Over the last nine months, you’ve helped her fill the nursery, given your two cents on baby names and celebrated every growth milestone that was represented by fruit. (Baby is the size of a kumquat this week–HOORAY! ?)
While your excitement is at an all-time high and you can’t wait for newborn snuggles and to be there for your friend, you also don’t want to overstep. Do you visit her in the hospital? Do you send flowers? How long do you wait for your first visit?
If this is your first friend to have a baby or you’re not her closest friend, you might not be well versed in visitor protocol. When is it ok to stop by? Is a spontaneous drop in frowned upon? (Spoiler: YES.) Especially when you’re not a parent yourself, it can be tricky to know how to socialize with your friends who just had babies as their world is a little turned upside down!
We tapped our mom friends for the brutally honest 101 on how to best be there for them post-delivery and visitor faux pas to avoid — because even the best-intentioned actions from visitors can be more overwhelming than helpful for a new mom!
Here is everything you need to know:
Do plan ahead (and text!)
Between finding her new routine and trying to maintain a schedule, new moms may have a lot of people stopping by each day, which can be overwhelming. Let your friend know you’re ready to visit whenever is most convenient for her — and communicate via text so she can get back to you when she has a moment of free time.
Do bring something she NEEDS
While bringing something may be obvious (as is etiquette for many occasions), in this case, it’s not necessarily the thought that counts — it’s the gift! ?
Now, you may be tempted to bring flowers, an adorable newborn outfit and/or baked goods, and while those are all lovely gestures, make sure to also ask what you can bring that your friend needs. She might really need a latte from her favorite café or she might be out of something around the house that she doesn’t have time to run out and get. You can say something like, “I’m running by Target beforehand–what things do you need? Coffee? Toilet paper? More diapers? Give me a list!”
One friend said her favorite and most useful gifts to receive were anything that acknowledged that her body had just been through a lot. Things like body butter, a skincare set to bring her sleep-deprived skin back to life, cozy bathrobe, dry shampoo, a cute tumbler to keep her coffee hot or water cold, a stack of her favorite magazines or a scented candle can mean a lot to a new mom!
A note on off-registry baby shower gifts:
The intention is good, yes, but what expectant mothers everywhere (and brides too, if we’re honest) want you to know, is this: Please don’t get her something for the baby that is off-registry.
Unless you know her REALLY well and/or she’s dropped a hint of something off-registry she’d like, don’t do it. She has registered for everything she needs in the exact colors/styles/etc that she wants. By giving her something off-registry, you’re essentially forcing her to buy the [boring, but much-needed and often expensive] items that she still needs herself, which can cause her a lot of stress.
While a car seat, a bunch of diapers, or a gift card she can put toward more expensive items she needs isn’t exciting–it’s something she’ll appreciate FAR more than something YOU think is cute that you’re guessing she’ll like. When in doubt–always just get her a gift card.
Looking for an already assembled care package for her?
Small Packages offers curated care packages to stay connected to the women in your life — and they have the CUTEST “New Mom” box, that starts at $35! If you want to send something that is more sentimental along with your more practical gift card, for example–this is a great idea!
The new mom box has some self-care essentials for mom and a few little items for baby too, complete with a cute letterpress card (they’ll actually hand-write your message, too!) This is also a great gift to send a friend if you live far away! Opening one of their packages feels like a virtual hug! Use code JESSKEYS for 15% off!
Pro tip: If this is not her first child, don’t forget to bring something for the older sibling(s)! If you don’t know what big brother or sister is into, just ask! Bring a small toy or book (how cute is this one?!) or even a shirt or button that says “big brother/sister” (like this, this or this!) Because a lot of attention is going to the newborn, bringing something for the other kid(s) in the house goes a long way! Make sure to spend some time with the older sibling(s) when you visit, too.
Do show up with purpose
After giving her your gift, ask what you can do to help! If your friend wants to simply sit and visit, that’s great! But chances are, there is laundry to do, dishes to clean or a dog to walk. Or maybe she just needs some moral support taking baby out in the wild for the first time.
Ask her which chores would be most helpful to tackle. She might be resistant out of politeness, but if you say, “I WANT to help you and I don’t have to be anywhere until 3pm! Have you showered today? I can hold the baby while you take a shower, or do you have some laundry I can help fold while we talk?”
Give her options she can easily say “yes” to instead of making her come up with ideas when her sleep deprived brain is operating at 20%. This will make it easier for her to delegate some tasks for you. When in doubt, just start cleaning. ?
Do your research before bringing food
Bringing food can be so helpful — especially if you do a little work on the front end to make sure it’s a) something the whole family likes and b) is something they have space to store in the fridge/freezer.
First, check to see if there’s a food train that you can sign up for. If so, get in touch with that contact to plan accordingly. You don’t want to bring the fourth lasagna they’ve had that week, and you don’t want to bring something they don’t have room for.
And next, ask if anyone has dietary restrictions. Once you’ve covered your bases, find a meal that’s easy to store and serve.
When in doubt, soup works great because it can be easily frozen and re-thawed. Tip: Bring it in a few different, single-serve microwave-safe containers, so she can easily pull it out and make enough for herself for lunch, because when you’ve got a screaming newborn, that makes it WAY easier on her to feed herself!
Another idea: Get her a gift card for a food delivery service, like Grubhub, or Postmates, or a gift card to her favorite restaurant so their first date-night post-baby can be on you! (Bonus: Offer to babysit that night, too!)
Do ask what they need
Depending on the day she’s having or her emotional state, your friend might want to get out of the house. Be open to taking the visit on the move! Does she want company walking around the block? Can you help her run an errand? Ask what she needs and how you can help make it happen.
Do adapt to her new routine
New moms are operating within a fine-tuned routine. If your friend texts you to come at a certain time, chances are that time was perfectly calculated between nap and feed times. Make sure to be punctual–Do NOT show up 30 minutes late. And, if she needs to cancel or move your visit back, be sure to roll with the punches and adjust!
Don’t just stop by for a visit
We touched on this already, but it bears repeating! Make sure you don’t just flop on the couch and chat your friend’s ear off (unless she specifically wants that!) Be mindful of what you can do to help before diving into chit chat. Make sure to give her a heads up and make sure it’s okay that you stop by.
Don’t let her feel like they need to entertain you
My friend told me that sometimes when people came to visit, she felt like she was required to entertain them, which stressed her out. Make sure your friend isn’t hosting you (i.e. getting you drinks or food) and if you bring something, make sure you put it away (i.e. put flowers in a vase or cut the coffeecake you brought for you both to enjoy as you visit). If you both pour a glass of wine, make sure you rinse the glasses and put them in the dishwasher before you leave. If anything, you should leave her place cleaner than how you found it.
Don’t ask obvious questions
(We’re all guilty of this one!!) While you might simply think you’re making conversation, asking questions like “are you tired?” or “is the baby eating ok?” can be at best, boring, and at their worst, a sensitive subject. OF COURSE your friend is tired! She’s also probably super stressed out and uncomfortable, but highlighting those things won’t make it better. Keep things light and focus on positive topics. Unless she specifically brings up a postpartum recovery or baby routine topic, steer clear of obvious questions!
Don’t ask invasive questions
Again, unless she brings it up, no need to ask if she’s breastfeeding or if the baby is sleeping through the night. Between hormones, emotions, sleep deprivation and just the pressure of motherhood, asking a question like this could strike a chord. As my friend said: if she wants to share something, she will!
Don’t show up dressed to the nines
I hadn’t thought of this one before my friend mentioned it! When you stop in for a visit, try to dress casually if you can. New moms are living in comfy clothes and are still recovering and healing. So stopping in on your way to a hot date night might not be the best choice. Keep it casual and simple!
Don’t overstay your welcome
Unless you’re helping around the house or serving a specific purpose, keep your visit to half an hour or less. She might have more visitors lined up on top of her busy newborn schedule.
Don’t stop checking in
While new moms are flooded with visitors in the early days, but they often need even more help and support in the weeks and months to come, so don’t be a stranger! Even a “thinking of you!” text every few days can go a long way to let your friend know you’re there when she needs you.