The arrival of a new life is a time of celebration for both the expectant parents and their friends and family. After months of preparation, careful planning, countless books and parenting classes, your little bundle of joy has finally made his or her debut!
A range of emotions, a bit of chaos and uncertainty about how to address every squeak the baby makes (not to mention sleep deprivation) is certainly a recipe for nerves to be a bit raw.
Here are a few pregnancy etiquette tips for mom, family and friends:
For the new mom:
- Don’t feel obligated to answer the telephone, the front door, texts or emails. You are not obligated to stay connected to technology when you need your rest and your new baby needs your full attention.
- Plan in advance who you want to see in the hospital and have dad keep everyone else out. Your energy will be low and your emotions will be high. Put dad in charge of keeping the visitors out if you want some peace and quiet. Don’t feel pressured to entertain every visitor who decides to drop by unannounced.
- Buy a “Shhh…Mom and Baby are Sleeping” sign and use it. Your rest is a top priority – for you and for baby. Others will understand, and can come back for a visit after enjoying a milkshake in the hospital cafeteria or running a quick errand.
- Don’t put undue stress on yourself to jump out of your maternity clothes right away. Avoid the urge to step on the scale as soon as you get home. Allow yourself time to enjoy motherhood and exercise when the doctor gives you the green light.
- Nurse with discretion. Not everyone is comfortable watching a nursing mother. A modest nursing shawl will keep you, baby and strangers comfortable. Many businesses have a “nursing lounge” for mothers – inquire about it. You’ll feel more comfortable and will nurse more easily when prying eyes are not on you.
For well-intentioned family and friends:
- No drop in visitors – even in the hospital. If you’d like to make a visit, make arrangements with the baby’s father before popping in for a quick peek.
- Don’t assume your children are welcome for a visit. A quiet hospital room is to be treasured. Well-intentioned children have been known to jump up on hospital beds or touch a sleeping baby before you can stop them.
- Don’t pass the new baby around like a football. New moms are afraid of germs, and rightfully so. Be extra careful when you are handling the baby and let the new mom decide who holds the baby before you hand him or her off to someone else.
- Be a proactive friend. Offer to pick up the kids from school and take them to sports practice. Or, drop off your favorite home cooked meal for the family to enjoy. Every little favor helps and is greatly appreciated.
- Keep your views about nursing and vaccinations to yourself. Unless the new mom directly asks you about your views on these sensitive subjects, it’s best to keep your opinions to yourself.
- Leave the room (or at least act busy) when the new mom needs to nurse. Be sensitive to feeding time. If it’s time to nurse the baby, give mom some privacy while she fumbles through the difficult task of getting used to nursing her newborn. At the very least, look the other way.
- Pamper the new mom. One of my favorite things to do along with giving the new mom a gift for baby is to sneak in a special TLC-themed gift created especially for mom. Spa lotions, a scented candle or cozy pajamas and slippers are all thoughtful gifts during a time when she is likely not thinking about pampering herself. Even something as simple as some time to shower and take a nap would be a welcome gift of friendship.
Best wishes during this exciting time,