Do you know someone who has just given birth? If you’re excited to visit the new baby and the family in their home soon, here is a list of dos and don’ts for supportive and respectful fourth trimester etiquette.
It may seem like a lot of rules, but they’re more than reasonable during such a vulnerable time. The new mumma will be grateful and happy knowing she doesn’t have to put any visitor boundaries in place herself.
If you’re a new mumma yourself, you might like to send this checklist to friends and family members (or get someone else to do it for you!). You also can refuse to have any visitors at all, particularly in the first 6 weeks. It’s your baby, and your choice.
21 Supportive Tips for visiting new Mums
- Text first to confirm a time that is convenient for her. Don’t call or just show up.
- Ask if she needs anything on the way, like groceries or nappies.
- Understand that she may need to reschedule at the last minute.
- Stay away if you’re sick or haven’t been vaccinated against whooping cough within the last 10 years.
- Avoid wearing strong perfume or smoking.
- Bring a meal or a snack to share with her, and offer to make her tea or coffee.
- Bring practical gifts. We have a list of ideas here.
- Wash your hands when you enter the house.
- Never kiss the baby. Here are the dangers of kissing a newborn.
- If she has another child, bring a little gift for them, or an activity you can do together to give mum a break.
- Ask the mum how she’s doing before asking about the baby. Offer reassurance that she’s doing an amazing job.
- Don’t comment on her postpartum body – good or bad.
- Keep the noise and energy low. Make it all about her. She may not have the bandwidth for listening and offering others comfort.
- Try to avoid unsolicited advice, or ask about sleep or feeding. Let her initiate those conversations.
- Don’t expect to hold the baby. She may not be comfortable handing bub over yet, but instead would appreciate you helping to make her comfortable with a glass of water, a footstool to put her feet up, and bringing the things she needs closer to her.
- Do Offer (or even better, just do it if you know them well enough) to put a load of washing on the line, tidy up, vacuum, or fold baby clothes.
- You can offer to hold the baby while she takes a break, naps, or has a shower, but don’t feel offended if she declines the offer. Always hand back the baby when she asks or if the baby is unsettled.
- Ask if it’s okay to take photos of the baby, and don’t share them on social media unless she’s asked you to.
- Avoid staying too long. 20-60 minutes should be plenty. She’ll be tired and going through all kinds of emotional and physical changes.
- After the visit, check in with a text to see how she is, and offer to return when she’s ready. Supporting a new mum is ongoing, not just for the first week or two.
- Finally, approach your visits with empathy, kindness, and a genuine desire to provide meaningful support to the new mumma during this transformative phase of her life.