Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


What New Moms Really Want You to Do When You Visit

The birth of a new baby is just about the greatest thing on earth. After having welcomed three of my own little babies into the world, I've had my fair share of after-birth experiences. Most of our family and friends were wonderful—they came to meet our babe, cooked us food and supported us when we were recovering on very little sleep.

But we've all heard the horror stories—unwelcome coworkers showing up at the hospital, our husband's weird friends being overly interested in our breastfeeding efforts, the friends that bring their gaggle of children into the delivery room, pulling cords and infecting everyone with some virus, the cousin that can't help but ask about all the gory details of birth. "No, I did not eat my placenta. Yes, I am an animal. You're right. No, birth isn't weird. It's incredible." And et cetera.

The thing is, unless you've welcomed a baby into the world, you probably don't know the rules about what to do after birth. You don't know how hard Mom just worked to birth the baby. You don't know how painful the after-birth contractions are. You don't know how much bleeding and leaking goes on. You don't know what it's like to survive for weeks and weeks, sleeping in hour-long increments only.

RELATED: 10 Things No One Tells You About Postpartum Recovery

So, I'll speak for all the mamas everywhere. Here is what new moms REALLY want from you after they give birth. Please and thank you.

If you'd like to visit the hospital, make sure it's OK with the family first. Labor and delivery is exhausting on everyone and unexpected visitors can be overwhelming. If the family IS OK with you coming to the hospital, there are some things you should know:

  • Don't come if you are (or have recently been) ill. This is a no-brainer. New babies are at greater risk for illness and infection, so don't even take a chance. (Same with your kiddos.)
  • Don't stay too long—15-20 minutes should suffice. Visitors are great, but exhausting. Come and say hi, hold the baby for a second and be on your way. Mama is recovering and needs rest! (And probably needs to nurse or change her granny panties. Just being honest!)
  • Make sure to wash your hands. Before you hold the babe, be sure to wash your hands well. Most hospitals have a soap dispenser in the room, so use it!
  • Bring a gift. (More on this below!)
  • Bring food. A friend of mind brought me a deli sandwich just hours after I gave birth and it was like Christmas! (No deli meat for 10 months.)
  • Don't ask weird questions or say weird things. Unless you are BFFs, don't ask about the delivery, whether or not the mom had drugs, how the baby is nursing, etc. Don't comment on how "weird childbirth is" or make jokes about it, either. Both of those have happened to me and they didn't make me feel too good.

Meals are crazy helpful during the first month or so of a newborn's life. If you live close and are the cooking type, a homemade meal is the most glorious thing ever. If you live far away or don't cook, send a gift card or deliver takeout.

  • Make sure you are aware of any allergies or dislikes beforehand.
  • Pack the meal in disposable containers so no dishes have to be cleaned.
  • Think healthy and hearty. No junk or processed stuff. Mama is recovering and needs a well-balanced diet to support her breastfeeding efforts.
  • Bring courses—a salad, an entree, and a dessert are all things a new mama would love to have for dinner. A pitcher of tea or a bottle of wine would be an extra treat!
  • A snack basket is another thoughtful way to help out. A basket full of fruits, granola bars, trail mix, good juice and the like would be AMAZING, especially for a mother who is nursing around the clock.
  • Think about the big kids. If they have older kiddos, make sure you what you bring is OK for them, too.
Send a text or email. A quick "Hey mama, how's that sweet babe doing?" can mean the world to a mom who probably feels exhausted and a little overwhelmed.

Gifts are another great way to celebrate a new baby. Bringing a small something for baby, mama or the entire family is a nice gesture and will be so appreciated.

  • Go for unique instead of easy. This means instead of picking up some generic onesie from Target before you head over to meet the baby, head to your favorite local boutique and pick up something handmade.
  • Mamas deserve a little pampering, too. Consider gifting mom a new magazine, a bottle of nail polish, some pretty flowers, a nice thing of lotion, or even a meaningful card. Ever heard of a nursing basket? This is a fabulous idea for a new, breastfeeding mama.
  • Bring something for the big kids. The hardest part of bringing home a new baby is helping the older children adjust. Bringing something for them would make their day! A great picture book, art supplies, a board game, or even a new movie would make those older siblings so happy.
  • Bring "stuff" the family will need. Someone did this when my grandmother died and it was so nice. Things like dish soap, toilet paper, facial tissues, milk—these are always things we seem to be running out of and having an extra stash would be so helpful.

If you are super close with the family (like if you saw the new mom unshowered in a T-shirt, leaking breast milk and she wouldn't be freaked out), offer to help out. Don't offer to help with the new baby unless she asks. New mamas want to spend time with their newborns. What they don't want is to do laundry, wash the dishes, take out the trash, etc. Here are some ways you could help:

  • Tidy up the house. Do a load of laundry. Clean the bathroom mirror. Load the dishwasher. These things take barely any time but will bless a new mama so much.
  • Offer to do an errand or two for them. While you're out, see if they need you to pick up anything from the store. Maybe they need something taken to the post office or picked up from the dry cleaner.
  • Take the big kids to do something fun—go to the park, take them for pizza or to see a movie. Getting them out of the house can be a lifesaver.
  • Let mama shower. If she'll hand the new baby over to you, let her take 10 minutes to shower while you read or rock or sing to the babe.
  • If you live out of town, hire a cleaning company to come and make Mama's day.

RELATED: 10 Things You Don't Know Until You Have a Baby

Lastly, make sure to check in with the family every now and then. It seems that after the first week or two, all the excitement dies down and the family is left to fend for themselves. Here are some ways to check in on mom and baby:

  • Bring coffee. Text or call first to make sure they're home, then bring mom's favorite drink over and chat for 5-10 minutes. A friend of mine did this when Ingrid was just a baby and it was so touching.
  • Send a text or email. A quick "Hey mama, how's that sweet babe doing?" can mean the world to a mom who probably feels exhausted and a little overwhelmed.
  • Invite them for a quick outing. No, don't invite them for bowling and bar hopping on a Saturday night. (They won't want/won't be able to go.) Instead, invite them for a walk in the park or a coffee date at the mall. Something easy and quick and that can be done with a newborn in tow.
  • Spend a Friday night WITH them. Order pizza and bring wine to their place. Enjoy a game night or even a funny movie with the new parents. Mama can still nurse her little one and the new parents don't feel like they are missing out on life with their friends.

Image via Lacy Stroessner

More from toddler