A baby has been born – hooray! Whether it’s your sister, friend or coworker, being eager to meet someone's new little bundle of joy is common. But when should you visit, how long should you stay and what should you bring are all questions that pass through many heads each time a baby is born.
There are no official rules about visiting a new baby, but here are some things to consider for the sake of the new family. Just know, no matter what you decide, please wash your hands immediately when arriving to visit the new little one.
1. Is this a first baby? If this is the first baby, both the mom and dad may be home from work for an extended time. Let them enjoy this time as much as possible and go visit once dad heads back to work. It will help mom not feel so isolated and lonely. With subsequent kids, you don’t have to worry quite so much about intruding because life has to go back to normal more quickly. Also, many dads sleep at home with the older kids while mom and baby are still in the hospital, so dropping by the hospital to say hello may make the day of your friend or family member.
2. Does the baby have any health considerations? Our oldest daughter spent two weeks in the neonatal intensive-care unit, and having visitors was amazing. NICU babies often cannot be held very often or for very long, so you have a lot of parents who sit and watching over the baby 24/7. It can be overwhelming, exhausting and a little boring. Many people have the instinct to avoid visiting the NICU, but special circumstances aside, those babies and parents are the ones that need visitors the most.
3. Did the mom have a good recovery from birth? I had a c-section both times and even though I had great recoveries, I was not up for many visitors during that first week once I was out of the hospital and home. It wasn’t personal, it was just my preference.
4. Is the mom breastfeeding? Breastfeeding can be emotional and tough. Make sure the mom is comfortable with the feeding situation and ask when a good time is to come around the feeding schedule.
5. How long is your visit? If you live in town and your visit is quick, the circumstances are very different than if you are an out-of-town visitor. If coming from out of town, make sure the family is 100 percent comfortable with visitors for an extended time. I specifically did not feel comfortable having long-staying visitors that were bringing children during those first two weeks. I didn’t want the extra germs, extra touching and extra mess that comes with kids visiting for hours during those first few weeks.
6. How can you help? This new baby isn’t about you, so try not to take offense if your sister asks you to wait to visit for a week or if your friend says she only wants you to stay for 10 minutes. Each family adjusts differently to each baby and being supportive is the best thing you can do. When you do visit, bring coffee or food (do note that NICUs do not allow food, so bring books or magazines instead if visiting there), hold the baby and remember, they are the parents so they get to make the rules – no matter how ridiculous they are.
Jaime Wyant is a 31-year-old Omaha native, wife to Bret and mother to Marin and Liam. She writes weekly for Momaha.com.