Post-partum can be overwhelming for a new family, but especially for the birthing person. There are late nights feeding and a hormone roller coaster. It is so important that when you come to visit a family with a new baby, that your presence does not add unneeded stress. Here are a few important ground rules to be aware of:
Offer to help
When visiting a family post-partum things around the house can pile up and quickly become overwhelming. Everybody loves seeing a new baby, but the best thing you can do for a new family is offer to help them with some of their chores. Now this doesn't mean that you need to clean all of the base boards in their house, but offering to do some dishes or a load of laundry, can take a huge weight off of the new family's shoulders. Be aware of how you offer your help. Instead of saying " do you need help with anything," say some thing more like "what do you need help with?" This can make all the difference in whether or not they will ask for help!
Focus on the parents
When visiting a post-partum family it's easy to get excited about the baby. Although, when all of the attention is on the baby it detracts from giving the parents the opportunity to discuss the life changing and potentially traumatic experience that brought the baby into the world.
It can also be easy to fall into the typical patterns of conversation the may lead to you updating the family on your own life. There will be a more appropriate time to do this though, so instead spend this time listening to whatever they need to talk about.
Never say "at least you have a healthy baby"
Having a healthy baby does not forfeit any trauma they may have around birth and it is not for you to decide what is traumatic and what isn't traumatic. Hold space for the post-partum family and let them speak freely without judgement.
Call first and don't overstay your welcome
Life with a new baby can be a major adjustment and it is not unlikely nor unreasonable for a family with a new baby to stay in bed cuddling all through the morning and even into the afternoon. Showing up unannounced, even with the best intentions, can be a major disruption. Now this doesn't mean that you are unwelcome, but it is always best to be sure they are ready and willing to have you there.
It is also important to be mindful of how long you are there. It can be so fun to spend time with the family and new baby, but having company can quickly become very overwhelming for the new family. They may feel as though they need to entertain you and they may not feel comfortable asking you to leave. Unless they want help around the house, keep your visit very short so they can get back to bonding as a family, uninterrupted.
There is enough stuff for a post-partum family to do. Bringing food, especially something that can be frozen and eaten later, can be very helpful. Make sure to be mindful of any dietary preferences they may have, and cook accordingly. The last thing they want to stress about is saying that they won't eat the meat filled lasagna you brought because they are vegetarian.
Be mindful of germs
I know it can be difficult to wait to meet and new baby, but if you are just getting over a cold, please don't visit a new baby. If you do come to meet the baby, make sure that you wash your hands before holding a new baby. Also make sure that you don't kiss the baby.
Audrey Logan-Owner and Doula of Elevated Birth