Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Forget the flowers, take a casserole instead.

Eleanor 020b 

My cousin had a beautiful baby a few weeks ago. I have not yet been to visit yet. I am waiting. I am giving my cousin a chance to settle in to her new life as a mum. She has plenty of visitors, her own parents and sisters, our grandfather, some of her close friends. I am not in her inner circle so I am waiting.

Next time someone that you know has a baby do not visit her at the hospital, don't send her flowers and don't turn up camera in hand expecting photos of you holding her baby. Wait.

Give the mum some time. The baby will look just as cute in a months time as he or she does now. Mum is adjusting to a brand new life. She most likely laboured all through the night and is now beginning a breastfeeding relationship with her child. She wants to sleep when she is tired, she wants to let bubby sleep whenever he or she needs, and she wants to be able to sit in her favourite chair with her top down while her and baby learn how to attach.

She wants visitors, but not a lot. Unfortunately the visitors she most wants and needs are the very people she is close enough to to be able to say "hang off today, I have been overwhelmed with other visitors”. Traditionally well-wishers flock to the hospital bearing flowers and gifts. It is an exciting time and everybody wants to hold the new baby and congratulate the new mum. Allow me to suggest an alternative.

Send a card, a welcoming gift, a care package to her via one of her inner circle (her mum, her sister, her husband) and then just wait.

Wait at least one month phone. Then phone the new mum (or her mum, or sister or husband) and ask if you can come for a visit. When you do visit, make sure you arrive at the time you organised. She has probably organised her sleep around this time. Arriving late (or even too early) is bad form.

Take a cooked meal rather than flowers. Something that she can pop into the freezer and eat later with her husband. Do not expect to eat it with her.

Before you hold the baby offer to do some housework. You could hang out some washing for her, run a vacuum over the floor, change the sheets on her bed, wipe out her bathroom. Look around for an odd job or two that she has not been able to do. Do not offer, just do it. This is one of those times that it is better to apologise rather than ask permission.

Do not expect her to play the hostess. Instead offer to get her a glass of water, make her a cup of tea, and offer her a piece of the cake that you brought with you. When you are finished make sure you do the cleaning up.

Lastly, do not overstay your welcome. Watch her for signs of tiredness or indications that she is wanting to put bubby to sleep. Hopefully you were able to have a hold, but do not feel disappointed if you did not. After all, you have blessed your friend and welcomed her into the journey of motherhood. You have shown that you are available to support her if, and when, she needs. That should be the purpose of your visit!


  1. Great post. I didn't know any of this until I had a baby myself. When we had our son we had visitors every day for 3 weeks. They were the type of visitors who would rock up, expect a cup of tea and some cake and then stay way too long. Your cousin will be so appreciative - of both the lack of a visit so far and the home cooked meal.

  2. Applause! :D More people should be educated on this. Those early days are so important for mother and baby.