Etiquette After Birth...
Bringing home a new baby is exciting and scary. You spent months prepping yourself, siblings, and your home for this new miracle to enter in hopes that there are no hiccups and everything is just so in its place for any possible situation. Diaper changing in the kitchen while you are also trying to prepare dinner for the other hungry little ones in the house? No problem, nearest diaper changing station is in the living room stocked with all the diapering needs. What you didn’t think about in advance was how are you and your husband going to get all the meals prepared, laundry folded, and dishes done while you are spending all your time swaddling, loving, and nursing your new little bundle. This is the post you want to share with your family and friends so that they, first, respect your first few weeks at home, and two, understand how and when you want their help.
Before you go to the hospital to deliver, I would recommend speaking with close family and friends about your wishes after you go home. They can spread the news to others so that you do not have to field every call or text in those first few days when everyone wants to come hold and love on your new baby.
Select a friend or a loved one to handle your meal-train. While someone will likely offer to set one up for you, having a close friend or family member coordinate this for your family is ideal. They will know the day to day schedule, any allergies or preferences, and be able to communicate your wishes. A meal train is a way to assist families with lunches or dinners over a specific period of time. The coordinator sets up a schedule and includes the logistics behind delivery and order preferences. They can include your order at various places, where to deliver meals, and avoid any dislikes that may go to waste. All of these specifics are included in the notes for anyone that wishes to deliver a meal.
For those preparing meals, be sure to pay attention to all of the notes on the meal train for each specific family. This could be a good time to prepare one of your favorite family recipes but, if they have multiple children or allergies, that casserole is probably not a good idea. New moms are tired, likely nursing, and just want to figure out this new routine. They could be showering, nursing, or resting when you stop by their house. Bringing a meal over to a friend’s house is not an invitation to come inside. Plan to leave the meal on the porch and send a quick text to let them know. It is not okay to knock on the door unless that is listed as okay in the meal train instructions. If she is nursing, pay attention to ingredients used that could make her uncomfortable or transfer to her breast milk with funny tastes impacting the baby. The goal of a meal train is to lighten the load for new mothers so they don’t have to worry about cleaning up or dishes. If possible, use containers that do not have to be returned or include a little hang tag on your bags so its easy for her to remember which one is yours a few weeks later. Other things that are nice to include but not necessary would be paper plates, silverware, and a large container of sweet tea or lemonade. This really will lighten the load when it comes to dishes!
I always love to include a little gift for new mom or baby when I drop off a meal. It doesn’t have to be anything big but just a little something extra to make her smile. It could be her favorite body wash, a magazine, dessert, candies, nursing snacks, or muffins for breakfast the next day. Consider putting her monogram on one of the bags you use regularly for your room mom or small group activities. You know she will use it for years to come and would make an excellent gift for her. You could also attach a little note to let her know that if she needs anything from the store, you’d be happy to pick that up for her as well. Any combination of the above just shows that you are thinking of her and want to help make her life easier over the next few weeks.
I am not a fan of people touching my laundry but when my mother in law had all of my laundry done and folded when I returned home from the NICU with Mary Addison, it brought me to tears. As a family of 5, we do 6-10 loads of laundry a week. That volume can add up fast over a few weeks of multiple blowouts and spit-ups. Newborns generate several loads by themselves so consider having your mom, mother in law or even your sister help with laundry. Before going to the hospital, make sure you have everything washed and put away so that you don’t have to do this when you return home. I would even recommend having your housekeeper or a laundry service scheduled for the week before and the week after you are scheduled to deliver especially if you have multiple requests for things to be washed a certain way. You do not want to tell your sister she has to hang dry 50 outfits because she will NEVER want to help you with this task again.
If you have multiple children, they also have schedules and routines in place that may have been set for quite some time. Adding a new baby can be an adjustment for everyone in the household. Remember to set aside time for your other children and make that time with them special so they don’t feel like they are losing your attention completely. Speaking with older children about the change in routine or schedule adjustments in advance will better prepare them for bringing home a new baby. Keep in mind that they may have potty training regression or sleep regression and that is perfectly normal. Be patient with them and yourself if they are having trouble adjusting in the first few weeks. It’s only for a short period of time and everyone will fall into your new family schedule, eventually… Before you try to make every event or private lesson, think about setting up a carpool or having family and friends help with pickup and drop off at various activities to alleviate having your newborn out and about in those first few weeks.
Other matters worth mentioning:
- Remember to wash your hands and keep your school age children away from the food preparation. This could cause newborns or new mothers and fathers to become ill at the most inconvenient time.
- If a new mom says it’s okay to visit during that first week, always text to confirm 30 minutes -1 hour in advance. This is just a kind and respectful reminder so she can be presentable before your arrival. It is not her responsibility to work around your schedule so be mindful of that when trying to plan a time to visit.
- If invited inside, do not stay past 20 minutes. Make it quick because she probably wants to rest, nurse, or has someone else coming over to her to grab a quick shower.
- It’s never okay to bring your children over when you are visiting a newborn. If you do not have childcare available for your children, consider just dropping off a meal or gift on the porch. It will not go unnoticed but your children will most certainly be noticed and may wake up a sleeping baby.
- Give her grace. If she has not showered and has bags under her eyes, offer to watch the baby while she showers and gets ready for the day. This would be a thoughtful gesture and could help her get the day started off on the right foot.
- Do not just show up unannounced
- Do not tell a new mom how or what to do. Allow her to figure things out on her own and in her own way.
- Do not steal the baby or ask to hold the new baby unless she offers. She may not want to pass her new baby around at 4 days old.
Some things happen during childbirth that you can never predict. Everyone thinks that it’s going to be easy, a short stay and home you go three days later but that isn’t always the case. While you cannot prepare for everything, having a strong support system in place when you leave the hospital is important so that you can focus on caring for and nurturing your baby. Letting others help you with small tasks allows you to love and care for your new baby and older siblings without getting burnt out and exhausted on house chores.
Family and Friends
It’s really is the thought that counts. It truly does not matter if you grab a large pizza or you spend hours preparing your grandmother’s special recipe. It does not matter if you bring an heirloom blanket or a pack of chap-stick. What matters is that you are supportive and helpful in those first few weeks. It will make her feel a little less alone, a little more like herself, and very loved.
If you wish to bring a gift for mom or baby, here are a few suggestions:
- spa gift certificate and/or pedicure gift certificate
- fuzzy socks
- soft throw blanket
- lactation cookies
- water bottle
- lip balm
- hand-written note
- coffee gift card for late night diaper runs or driving around getting the baby to sleep
- Converter gown or zipped footie for sweet snuggles and easy diaper changes
- Wubbanub Pacifier holder
- Monogrammed blanket
- The Brother and Sissy Children's Team