The early months of motherhood can be a very lonely place, so new moms are typically ecstatic to have visitors. They can talk about any concerns they may have; show off their new babe; take a shower. But, when you're paying a visit to a brand new mama, a few etiquette rules should be taken into consideration. Here are nine rules to follow when visiting someone who just had a baby:
1. Go when it's convenient for them, not when it's convenient for you.
Always be sure to ask a new mom when she'd like you to come visit. Sure, heading there straight after work or on a Saturday morning may work best for you, but it may be a really bad time for her. Also, it should go without saying to never show up unannounced. Nobody wants to be caught off-guard and feel like they need to entertain guests when they just had a baby.
2. Tell them to put you to use.
Everyone wants to meet—and snuggle—the tiny guest of honor when paying a visit to a new mom. But, that's the easy part! Allow mom to get some rest with her baby while you tackle some not-so-fun chores, like doing her dishes or folding her laundry.
3. Keep the focus on mom and baby.
"Be careful not to 'one up' the mother's labor and delivery experience with details of your own," says Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. "Everyone's experience is different and most people don't want to hear the details of your delivery or share the details of theirs, anyway."
4. Bring food.
Figuring out meals are one of a new mom's least favorite things to do, so showing up with a casserole or a tray of ready-to-heat pasta is more helpful than you can imagine. You'll get bonus points for bringing your delicious meal in a disposable tray—because what's even less fun than figuring out meals? Cleaning up after them!
5. Never visit a newborn baby if you're sick.
Even if you simply have a case of the sniffles, postpone your visit until you're completely well. "Make sure that you are in good health and that everyone with you is well before visiting," says Whitmore. "When you arrive, don't pick up the baby unless you have been invited to do so and be sure to wash your hands first if you have been invited to hold the baby."
6. Don't wear out your welcome.
Try to keep visits to new parents on the shorter side—unless, of course, they request that you stick around. Trying to nurse a baby or put him down to sleep can be extra stressful if there's an audience.
7. Ask mom if she wants hospital visitors in advanced.
The first few days that follow childbirth are one of the most emotional and vulnerable times in a woman's life, and not everyone wants outsiders to witness that. Find out the mother's preferences before showing up at the maternity ward hours after she gave birth—even if you are bearing a cute stuffed teddy and some pretty flowers.
8. Respect the mother's privacy.
Despite the fact that people are getting more relaxed with breastfeeding, don't assume that a new mama is okay with nursing in front of others, especially if she's still getting the hang of things. "If the mother decides to breastfeed her baby, be sure to ask if she would like you to leave the room during feeding time," suggests Whitmore.
9. Say you love the name... even if you don't.
Names, like almost all things parenting-related, are a personal choice. If you're not a fan of the little one's moniker, smile and say something nice anyway. "The name parents choose is usually one they love," says Whitmore. "To make curt remarks or disapproving facial expressions is an insult to the parents." And think about it: how would you feel if someone rolled their eyes when you told them your child's name.