Good morning! Please forgive the rambling…sleep is no longer a luxury I can afford. Why? I’m a mom now…huzzah!
My son was born last month and by golly he’s a cute little shit. He likes to kick his legs, he’s quite talkative, and he LOVES Ferengi. I am NOT making that up. Here he is completely enamored by Quark….
The Grand Negus Zek is his favorite.
Charming isn’t he?
Since I found out I was expecting I have been combing through message boards and forums about motherhood and all that jazz, in an attempt to be as prepared as possible. Most of the following is what I have learned from others about what they wish they had done differently. There are a lot of pit falls that I came across that I see repeated over and over. So friends and family don’t you fret…this isn’t about you…not really. Everyone is different, so take these with a grain of salt and use your best judgement.
How not to help new parents
A guide for well wishers on what NOT to do
1. Sharing your Horror Stories
You know the ones –
“Sleep now because once the baby comes you’ll never sleep again”
“Just wait until the third trimester and you’re a beached whale”
“My first baby was 3 weeks late!”
“I was in labor for 11 DAYS!”
Just Shut up.
2. Showing up at the hospital RIGHT after the little person is born
I have seen this being an issue in countless blog and forum posts. This is especially true if labor was tough or drawn out, and don’t even get me started if mom had a C-Section (I had one after laboring for almost 20 hours).
Mom is tired, probably hungry, and there is a good chance she is not feeling the most presentable (I don’t mean appearance-wise either…I mean she has NO energy to smile and nod). Most importantly her kid just showed up. GIVE HER A CHANCE TO HANG OUT WITH IT FIRST! It is more important that the parents get to say hello to the little one then you. You’ll get to meet the rugrat, so hold your horses.
Good rule of thumb is this – were you explicitly invited? Yes? Then by all means stop by. But if you WERE invited, MAKE IT SHORT! There is a LOT going on right after birth that mom and dad have to attend to: figuring out breast feeding (if mom chooses and is able), meeting with the lactation specialists, talking to the Dr’s, talking to nurses (like every hour or more, no joke), baby checks-ups, the list goes on…. Then there’s things like – Mom and Dad might want to get some sleep, mom and dad might want to sit quietly with their new family member, mom and dad are probably too polite to tell you they don’t feel like entertaining.
Also consider that the BABY just went through something pretty traumatic as well and needs SLEEP! The baby does not need to be bounced around the room from person to person right away. Let them ease into the real world slowly. Keep in mind that EVERYONE except mom at this point is a stranger to the baby and that can be very overwhelming.
To be fair, part of this is the fault of the parents. People can’t show up if they don’t know. So if you don’t want ALL your friends and cousins and aunts and uncles piling into your hospital room right away…than maybe posting an announcement 5 minutes after the main event on Facebook is not the best idea.
My husband and I were lucky and heeded the warnings by only inviting our folks. But even that was a bit tricky as we had been awake for 2 days, I was drugged out of my mind, and due to my difficult delivery we had a steady stream of Dr’s and nurses every 20 minutes. Although I did get my mom to put lotion on my legs and cut my toe nails…thanks mom!
3. Offering to HELP by “Holding the Baby”
This makes ZERO sense to me. Unless mom asks you to hold the baby so she can go use the can, this is the OPPOSITE of helping. You do understand that parents have been waiting 10 months to meet the baby right? So why do people always assume they want to then immediately hand it off. Nope.
I read one story online from a new mother who had a family member offer to come hold the baby so the mom could get caught up on house work. Oh, gee…thanks.
On a side note: if you DO get to hold the baby, hold the baby carefully. You could be a professional baby holder, but newborns are fragile and new parents are nervous…so for fucks sake use two hands and SIT THE FUCK DOWN…and then give the baby back.
Only offer to hold the baby if mama is going to the bathroom, trying to eat with two hands, showering, or specifically asks you to. Give the baby immediately back to a parent when they have finished and look ready.
Those first couple of weeks, everyone wanted to hold Max and they kept on holding him. I cried so much behind my bedroom door because I felt like the only time I was able to hold Max was when I was nursing him…. The baby needs to be bonding with mom and dad and it will go very far if you support that notion. – www.likeordinarylife.com
4. Contradicting the new parents with your sage advice
If mom says “baby likes the yellow one.” don’t turn around with “No, babies like the blue one.”
It doesn’t matter how much experience you have with OTHER babies, THIS baby is the new parent’s, and if they tell you to use the yellow one than you have only one option – the yellow one. You are essentially undermining the parents authority to parent their child and that is not ok.
All parents parent differently and we all need to respect that. Just because something worked for your 6 kids, doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. The only thing that contradicting the new parents will accomplish is getting you LESS time with their kid because now they don’t trust you to do what they ask.
If the new parents need advice they will ask. There is a difference between being asked for advice, and contradicting what the new parents have already decided on.
This is especially true with updated safety precautions. New studies come out frequently. For instance: it is IMPERATIVE that babies sleep on their backs with NOTHING in their cribs to avoid suffocation. (And ONLY in cribs and acceptable sleep areas….NO napping with baby on the couch or rocking chair…EVER…sorry can you tell I’m paranoid about this one?) So when mom and dad tell you not to put anything in the crib when they sleep, don’t tuck baby in with a cute blanky because that’s how you used to put your babies to bed…it’s dangerous. Mom and dad told you that for a reason.
Here is a link to safe sleeping guidelines just in case you need to brush up > Sleep Safety for Babies
5. Surprise mom and dad with a visit
Yeah, phone first pretty please.
Newborns demand a LOT of attention, especially if they are breast fed. At 5 weeks old I still sit around half naked in dirty sweat pants for this very reason. I rarely have time for a quick shower between feeding, diapers, trying to get little one down for a nap….chances are the new parents are busy doing something already. There is no down time.
So on a similar note –
6. Hang Out
With so much going on, hosting company is pretty impossible. Even if there are two parents, this leaves one parent entertaining, and the other (mom if baby is breastfed), resentfully in the other room all alone while feeding, cleaning, and attending to the newborn. Not fun.
And certainly don’t bring a bunch of alcohol and expect a drinking session. Not a lot of people (non-parents mostly), realize that if a woman chooses to breastfeed, she STILL can’t drink much, if at all. Yes after I gave birth to my son I was looking forward to the first beer, but truth be told being able to feed my son was more important so I only drank half in a 24 hour period.
“But dad can knock a few back, RIGHT?!”
Oh sure, get dad drunk…if you want him in the dog house for getting a buzz on while mom spends the whole night dealing with a fussy baby.
But most importantly: SAFETY. Newborns and drunk people don’t mix.
Like I mentioned before, take these with a grain of salt. This list is mostly comprised of things that I noticed several people mention. Thanks to their struggle, my transition into parenthood was a lot easier. Some people LOVE lots of visitors after baby arrives. Some people might be happy to hand baby right over and get out of the house for a few. It all depends on the individual, so take cues from the parents and not your personal experience.