Visiting a New Family

You have watched as a pregnant person in your life has grown a baby in their belly.  You saw the positive pregnancy test.  You brought crackers as they coped with morning sickness.  You celebrated at the gender reveal party.  You were there for all of it.  You felt it all as much as anyone could feel it.

But now, the baby is here.  This baby is perfectly made.  Such beauty.  You could stare at this little being all day long.  You feel like it’s a part of you too.  You love this new parent so much; so you love baby.

tim-bish-171738After you’re done admiring this beautiful new creature, I want to give you some pointers on how to TRULY help this new parent.

What do they need?

1.)  Food and Water
This person needs sustenance.  If they is a first time parent, they may be caring for another individual for the first time in their life.  finding balance between caring for yourself AND another person is a struggle.  Bring them a glass of ice water, granola bar, a sandwich, a lasagna.  Freeze portions of your own cooking and tell her to heat it up for themselves.  Offer them coffee.  If it’s approved by the parent and provider, offer a dark beer or small glass of red wine.

2.)  A Moment
New parents sometimes can’t even set the baby down to go to the bathroom.  Using the bathroom after having a baby is best done without a baby in your arms.  Offer to hold the baby; hold a crying baby for a bathroom break, teething brushing, freshening up…  Take care of the baby while they takes care of themselves.  Give them a moment.

3.)  Laundry
New parents are juggling.  Give them a load of fresh leggings, flannels, socks and underwear.  Ask them if they needs a new shirt and bring it to them to change.  See if they needs a nursing bra washed, burp cloths?  Do a load of laundry.  It doesn’t have to be perfect!

(unless you’re a postpartum doula!)

4.)  Tidying
They only have 3 seconds to themselves at a time and probably spend that time asking  “what should I do now” before the baby needed something from her.  Do a few dishes, throw a couple things away, lessen any chaos that may be present.

5.)  An Ear
Postpartum depression is VERY real.  For the purpose of this blog, let’s just pretend it affects all birthing parents after birth.  In some way, they will feel sadness, maybe a little hopeless.  This wonderful person may even feel like they are not enough.  Listen and validate feelings.  Hold space, or give a hug if needed.  Bring a tissue and voice how you’re proud of the sacrifices made by new parents.  If you suspect that your friend needs to get some help, from a doctor or someone to talk to, don’t be afraid to suggest it.  PPD can be treated and should be acknowledged by our friends, and our medical professionals.  Don’t do nothing.

6.)  Focus
Everyone will come over to hold the baby, has anyone asked how her body feels?  “How is your vagina?”  “How is your incision?”  “How are your breasts feeling”  “How are you feeling about your birth?”  “Have you taken your vitamins?” “Have you taken your placenta capsules?”  Give your attention and your eye contact.  It will be appreciated.

7.)  Short Visits
Know when it’s time to leave.  If you are a close friend, new parents may feel comfortable falling asleep in front of you, but typically not.  Explain you’ll be back and ask if there is anything you can bring.  Keep your visits to 30 minutes or even less.  Allow time to bond with the baby.  Now that you have filled bellies and hearts, and left their home better than you found it, it’s time to go home.

Proposed Postpartum Visit Schedule
5 minutes of admiring new baby
5 minutes of preparing something to eat and drink
5 minutes of a chore, something to better the space
5+ minutes of alone time (bathroom, changing etc.  maybe even a shower)
5-10 minutes of conversation.  Check on new parents.
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