When your friend or family member has had a new baby, it’s natural to want to see them and their new bundle in the early days. As anyone who has held a newborn for any period of time can tell you, there’s something in their freshly-born scent that just makes the world a nicer place. Oh, and your friend is fairly kick ass too, you know, for that whole making a human and bringing them into the world thing. However, as much as you want to see them and are looking forward to visiting, here are some common pitfalls to watch out for. Here are the 15 Cardinal Sins you need to avoid when visiting new mum for a stress free visit!
Turning up without notice/uninvited
Ooh this one is a real bugbear. The early days with a newborn are tough going. It can be hard to settle into any form of a routine, even the most haphazard. So when you’re getting into the swing of things, an unexpected visitor can really put things off kilter. It’s not that we don’t want to see you, we just don’t want you turning up randomly and interrupting our cluster feed/nap time routine/the five minutes we’ve managed to put aside to actually cart the clothes into the washing machine.
Imply that the baby should be woken up “for a hold”
The baby is asleep. Unless the house is burning down or there’s signs they’ve stopped breathing, the child is not being disturbed. Certainly not for a cuddle with someone who won’t have to go through the “Ah, you definitely want to go back to sleep” routine later.
Ringing the Doorbell/The Landline/Any phone that cannot be silenced.
See above point about Baby Who Should Not Be Woken. Friendships have been terminated for less.
Overstaying your welcome
It’s lovely that you’ve arrived in to see us. We’re happy to see you, you’re our friend. But when baby is finally gone to sleep, it would be nice to have some downtime that includes me, the couch and catching a small bit of shut eye. Making inane conversation about things that REALLY aren’t important for three hours is not high on the priority list right now. Sleep trumps all. We’re sorry.
Not Understanding Basic Boundaries
Yes, we’re breastfeeding. No, there’s no need to stare. We might well be comfortable with the whole nursing thing, but that doesn’t mean we want to be eyeballed while our kid is grabbing a snack.
And yeah, it is mad how it takes a while for the womb to contract after giving birth. Amazing how you still look pregnant two weeks/months later because biology. Not exactly what we need to hear.
Repeat after me. You. Look. Incredible.
Arriving With A Cold/Slight Illness
Babies are born with an inexperienced immune system, which is built up over time with the little colds and illnesses that they catch. They’re not able to fend anything off, and even inconsequential adult colds can be serious in tiny babies. So if you’ve got that cough and runny nose that you’re “just getting on with”, please get on with it in your own house and not around our baby. You’ve not seen anything as pitiful as a small baby miserable with a cold. It affects the entire house for weeks. So please, don’t take offence, but stay away until you’re healthy to the level of “fit to visit immuno-compromised people”.
Expecting to be treated as “the guest”
We have opened the door and cleared a spot on the sofa. We MAY have offered to stick the kettle on. And then gotten distracted by a cluster feeding tiny bundle who has wind that just won’t lift. Or walked into the kitchen and completely forgotten why we were there because sleep deprivation. If you’re looking for tea service, you’ve come to the wrong house. If you want to watch television and drink tea, stay at home. Even the hostess with the mostes’ draws the line here. Be the one who offers to put the kettle on. Turn down offers (well meaning) of being served up food. And know the conversation silence that’s one too many and make your exit. Sharpish. We’ll be the perfect host once we’ve managed to regain some semblance of normality and routine. Right now, it’s every man for himself.
Telling the new mum her baby looks a bit unfortunate
I am still bitter over one visitor telling my very hormonal new mother self that my child looked like ET at four weeks old. The fact that he looked a bit scrawny and odd was besides the point, he was the light of my life and it is not your place to correct me. Hindsight is 20/20, a sleep deprived new parent needs all the “my child is perfect” thoughts they can get. Do not attempt to interfere with that!
Bring a plant as a gift
We are already doing every thing humanly possible just to keep a human alive. Why would you tempt fate further and give us something else which requires feeding and tending to as to not die on our watch? Just NO.
Getting the hump if you don’t get “a good hold” of the child
Before this baby was born, this was your friend or family member. You spent time with them. You respected them. It was them you were willing to spend time with. So why does this change when a tiny person enters the equation? It’s increasingly common (and not just the grandparents!) that people arrive to see THE BABY and ignore Mammy who is sitting there. Eh, hello, got a human into the world recently! Said baby has different priorities and hasn’t a clue who you are – but Mammy who may have been looking for some normality, gossip from work, general adult conversation that was not revolving around “Is that poo?” does, and gets ignored.
A new mum who is trying to feed or settle the child does not have your desire to hold the baby on top of their priority list. (Unless you’re being amazing and holding the baby and taking total responsibility – yes, that includes nappies and spit up – while she grabs a shower, in which case, you’re likely golden). So don’t get in a strop about not getting “a good hold” – that’s not something you have a right to.
Don’t Expect Undivided Attention/ A coherent conversation
You may feel that the story about Ger from work coming in half cut is the most hilarious thing ever, but the baby has just puked over our last clean top. We’re sorry that trying to manage the wriggling crying bundle is taking precedence over your SCINTILLATING story of how you’re fit to kill the person who used your mug in work on Tuesday. It’s not that we’re not listening to your story of how many shots you had on Saturday, it’s more that we’re doing a sleep-while-awake thing and our brain has checked out. Some day we’ll be back in the land of the gossip, listening intently, but right now, not so much.
Advising the new mum that her child is too cold/too warm/being treated wrong
You might have seen articles talking about how important regulating baby temperature is. You might have read something saying that co-sleeping is dangerous, or baby sleeping in the carseat is likely to kill them in minutes, or…. need I continue? There’s an array of information out there, and new parents have seen ALL of it. The thing that these articles don’t take into account is that mum does know what is best for her baby.
Obviously if the child is changing colour from the cold, visibly sweating or seems to have stopped breathing, then perhaps they may need a bit of swaying in the right direction. But if the child seems perfectly fine but isn’t wearing a hat/socks/a million blankets in July – trust that the parent knows their child, and knows when to intervene. Stepping in and correcting them not only feels like being talked down to, but it’s also really offensive at times.
Don’t Point Out The Mess
This one sounds really obvious. We know the place is a mess. We’re down to our last clean top, the washing machine has never gotten more action. The kitchen makes it look like we’re sponsored by Just Eat. Believe me, this frustrates us, but the folks who told you to sleep when the baby sleeps did not tell you when exactly to fit in the cleaning. We are keeping it together, and if you make a (well-meaning) comment about “coming around to sort the place out for you”, we may well cry in your face.
Adding to the Mess and NOT cleaning it up
Further sinful than pointing out the mess is adding to it and not tidying up. If we’ve fed you, moving the plate from where you sit to the sink/dishwasher and cleaning it up is much appreciated. If you’ve brought a gift (thank you), and you’ve wrapped it in lots of wrapping paper and cardboard, if that could make it to the recycling bin it’d be great.
Bringing the Biscuits/Chocolate, and Eating Them All
This one is really self explanatory.
What are the other cardinal sins people commit and should avoid when visiting new mum/new parents? What’s the worst crime against visiting you’ve seen? Let me know in the comments!
If you’ve got visitors who are a bit slow on taking the hint, tagging them in this might do it for you.
If you’re looking for gift ideas for the new mum in your life, I’ve got you sorted.
BadMammy is over on Facebook.