How To Visit A New Mom And Have Her Love You Afterwards

Going to visit a new Mother and her tiny baby?

I loved having company after my babies were born.

In fact, after a couple of my births, I called lots of people asking them to come see us!

However, as a Mom who has been there 5 times, I’ve had great and not-so-great experiences when friends and family came to visit postpartum.

While I loved sharing the joy of a new baby’s birth, I often remember fighting exhaustion with visitors who stayed too long, or being stressed by people whose children didn’t seem to know how to behave around newborns.

Make your visit a blessing instead of a drudgery with these tips.

1) Call beforehand and ask what you can bring her to eat

A new Mom, especially if she’s breastfeeding, is hungry! Don’t ask if she wants you to bring her anything. Most new Moms in our culture are unlikely to ask for help. Tell her that you ARE bringing her lunch and what would she prefer?

And make sure, if you’re preparing something, that it’s not loaded with empty carbs. New Moms have enough trouble going to the bathroom in those postpartum days! She needs good nutrition, not junk.

2) When you arrive, don’t smell like a bouquet on overdrive

Newborn babies have sensitive skin. Some of them break out when they are held by someone with a lot of synthetic perfume on. When you go visit a new baby, don’t smell like you’ve been attacked by Chanel No. 5. Skip the perfume. You’re not on a date, ok?

3) Wash your hands

New Moms are particular about their babies, and neither she nor her newborn needs your germs. Wash your hands first and then ask if you may hold the newborn. And for goodness sakes, leave a sneezing, snotty nosed child at home!

4) Don’t hog the baby

The new Mother’s job is to rest and bond with her baby. Don’t grab the baby and try to jolly her out of her cries when she obviously wants her Momma back. Hold the new baby briefly, perhaps while Mom uses the bathroom or cuddles her toddler, then give baby back. Now.

5) Do something useful

Ask Mom if you can watch her older child for a half hour so she can nap with the baby. Ask if you can load the dishwasher, or fold a load of laundry. Insist. Don’t say “Is there anything I can do?”. Say “What can I do?” At the very least, bring paper plates and disposable flatware. She may have forgotten to buy that, but it sure makes those postpartum days a little easier.

6) Keep your visit brief

Mom is tired, recuperating from childbirth and above all needs to rest and learn about her new baby. Counting fingers and toes, cooing, crying, breastfeeding and changing diapers takes all day!

A new Mom doesn’t need to play hostess. Don’t stay more than about 15 minutes unless you’re her best friend or close relative, and even then, keep it very brief. While I loved having people visit with me to ooh and aah over my newborns, I also remember how exhausted I felt, when a friend stayed for an hour or longer. New mom exhaustion often brings on tears. Don’t overstay your welcome!

If you remember these tips, the new Mom will really appreciate you, and she’ll return the favor the next time you have a baby!


50 Responses to How To Visit A New Mom And Have Her Love You Afterwards

  1. lisa says:

    I would say this post is presumptuous at best. After my son was born, I LOVED having visitors and I relished in having some adult conversation; of course all of my friends and family were pretty helpful, and almost always brought me food:) anyway…not all moms think that visitors are a blight, and this post takes it’s notion as factual statement, rather than anecdotal. I think the best advice is to ask the mother if she wants company. If she does not; don’t be offended. Simple.

  2. Brandi Klassen says:

    I honestly just wanted to be left alone! Because everyone that came just wanted to visit and they never brought anything. My mom was really helpful for the first few days then that was it. We managed. Its a good thing my husband was home at the time though! I just wish I had had someone that was like, “Im coming over for a little bit and Im going to bring you something to eat. Then Im going to clean your kitchen. Ok? Good!”

  3. Lindsay says:

    I disagree, Lisa. After my baby was born, I had so many unhelpful, lingering visitors that it drastically affected my health and recovery. My doctor demanded that I have no visitors for two weeks. After two weeks of just mom, dad, and baby, life was much better.

  4. Lindsay says:

    I COMPLETELY agree with you, Brandi! Unhelpful visitors add more stress to an already difficult time.

  5. Michelle says:

    Don’t assume ANYTHING about the mom’s mental state. This is big, and having had two unplanned, unwanted c-sections the LAST thing I wanted to hear was “Oh well, at least mom and baby are healthy!” When I call a new mom for a visit, I always make sure to let her know that it is OK if she does not want a visit, and that if she needs some one to talk to she can call me. Some moms are on cloud nine – others may not be. It is the visitors responsibility to be sensitive to that.

  6. Brenda says:

    I also enjoyed having visitors! No one over stayed their welcome, and understood visitations should be kept short. I loved being surrounded by people I love during such a wonderful time in my life!!

  7. Stephanie Haynes says:

    Just like you said to offer to bring something to eat, offer to clean something or do some laundry. After the birth of our twins, a friend came by, brought food and cleaned our bathroom. If there’s an older child in the family, offer to babysit or take them out to the park to give the parents some alone time with the baby. Other ideas: ask if they need anything mailed, call from the grocery store and ask what they need (not if they need).

  8. Katherine says:

    With last baby we had a no visitors for three days policy, including family. Caught a bit of flack for it but I really didn’t care, far more important for me and baby to bond and rest than to have extended family sitting on my couch shooting the breeze while I try to function normally. Next baby we’ll do it the same, may even make it longer! And I’m far more welcoming to people bringing us food! Even though my freezer was stocked it was a huge blessing to have friends take turns bringing us meals so I didn’t have to think about it! And hubby’s grandma gave us housecleaning service for a month, HUGE blessing! She would come over, clean, play with the older kids and leave. Fabulous! Almost everyone else came over to hold baby and chat…after being up all night, sore boobs, trouble sitting and standing, I don’t really want to chat!

  9. Chris says:

    I usually take a package of raspberry tea and a pretty mug for the new mom.

  10. Nikki says:

    I like this article because it at least get people to thinking…..
    Katherine, you were LUCKY! Send Grandma to me!!

  11. Rebecca M. says:

    I had told my husband that his mom could come out a week after our first child was born. Instead, she came the day after she was born!! She also made such a big ordeal about me not wanting her to stay with us (in our small 2 bedroom apartment with no extra bed or couch). She really ruined my first week post partum. She didn’t cook, clean or change a single diaper. She just sat around expecting my husband to wait on her hand and foot. My mom was so amazing. She just knew when to hold the baby for me and she would change her without being asked. She cooked for us and cleaned. I was so sad when she had to go home and leave me with the monster-in-law. I will definitely put my foot down the next time around.

  12. Kimberly says:

    I am going to share this on my Facebook page for the benefit of both new families/visitors and also for potential new doulas. I think this is great advice for anyone who cares for a family with a newborn! It is certainly a lot like what a postpartum doula does for a family…love that you wrote it! Thanks.

  13. Alice says:

    I told everyone I knew before I had bubs that if they didnt bring food they didnt get to see the baby haha. I was joking (mostly). But people got the idea & did bring food yay. I think every mum is different & every day is different. Some days I loved vistors & other days I just wanted to relax with bub. No matter what though, HELPFUL vistors are great =) My MIL use to come over & do my dishes while bubs & I had a nap it was fantastic!!

  14. Rosie S says:

    This is great and a really good conversation starter. We put a big sign on our door saying “If you don’t have an appointment, don’t knock” because we had so many pop-ins and I was so exhausted! Some people would call the phone and because we DIDN’T answer, they’d swing by anyway.
    They’d say yes to a cuppa (and not take over making it) and then leave the dishes in the lounge! Not impressed!
    Other people who came with food were welcomed warmly! I always noticed if they put any dishes in the sink instead of leaving them around.
    I tend to let people know I am here and willing to come by but happy to give space, and am planning on cooking up something shortly for a friend who had a bub last week. Thanks for the timely reminder!

  15. Great list! For me, I would prefer to be left alone during the 1st month after delivery, just needed some time to recuperate and get into the motions of things.

    Being Chinese, we have this custom where we will hold a full-moon party for the newborn once they turned 1 month old, so we told our family members and friends that they’ll be invited to the party and by then can see the newborn and all.

  16. Court says:

    I love the full moon party and that is what we did though we had no idea it was called that. I got a lot of visitors in the hospital, but very few once home. I actually made some in laws upset though. When my first was born my husbands grandmother was in the same hospital recovering from a stroke. Well my usually wonderful FIL stopped by there on his way to see us and told everyone and a crew of about 20 people tried to come visit 2 hours after I gave birth and was struggling with breastfeeding. As they walked in I commented to my mother who promptly left and apparently told the nurse it was too many people. The nurse came in and ordered them to leave, but I said my FIL could stay.

  17. Annie says:

    A part of me wonders if it’s just better to send a card of congratulations and not stop by until the family is actually settled.

  18. Sheryl says:

    After having a C-section I wasn’t able to drive – a problem when your husband works out of town 4 days a week. A friend of mine (who is NOW my BFF because of this!) gave me a little app where I could keep a grocery list and errands on my iPod, which she knew is the one thing I constantly have with me! She’d let me know when she was coming to pick up the list and any other odds and ends (dry-cleaning, library books, etc.) and off she’d go! When she returned, she’d put everything in its place and even bring me my favorite salads and desserts from all my favorite places. After a few weeks I started going with her, it was wonderful to get out, have a chauffer and some adult time.

  19. carrie says:

    What a wonderful idea Sheryl! Using technology to make motherhood a little easier. :-)

  20. carrie says:

    Nothing in the world wrong with setting appropriate boundaries to protect yourself and your family.

  21. carrie says:

    I had a friend whose wife, from Hong Kong, had a similar custom. Many ancient cultures have something like this. Much wisdom in it!

  22. carrie says:

    “leaving dishes in the lounge”… the exact kind of thing I’m discouraging in the article! :)

  23. carrie says:

    Your MIL sounds like a keeper :)

  24. carrie says:

    Oh goodness, I’m sorry you had to go through that at such a sensitive and important time Rebecca!

  25. carrie says:

    A great point Michelle – never assume. :)

  26. Mommy C says:

    I don’t know how I will feel this time around, but I wished I had more visitors last time. I suffer from depression and was so worried about postpartum depression/anxiety (ended up that I just had the PPA thankfully). I was so desperate to connect with the outside world that we ended up going out at least once a day just so I could be around people. I am hoping that this time around I will have more visitors.
    I think that I am different than most people though and so I wouldn’t assume everyone is like me either. I think you need to gauge what the mom wants when you talk to her and go from there.

  27. Milk Mentors says:

    I enjoyed visitors and even felt sad when people “gave me space” but shorter was always better. I really like #1: what to expect and a treat!

    The one thing I REALLY did not like was when a friend with a sick child (child in tow) came by. She told her daughter not to touch the baby, but by my standards she couldn’t get out fast enough. I make it a policy to leave my kids at home (or with grandma) unless the new mother is an adult that has a close personal bond with my children already (and then only the older ones).

  28. Amy says:

    I have used a website that makes coordinating visitors a breeze: When I had my girl, a friend set this up for me, and it worked beautifully. It’s become a standby in our circle of friends to use that site.

    I just set it up for an expectant friend last week. I titled it “Postpartum meal help,” so folks know it’s all about bringing meals. It shows a calendar view where you have selected the days and times and tasks needed, for instance a meal/visit every other day. You enter in folks’ emails, and send them an invitation/announcement through the site, and then people just sign themselves up for the slots you’ve created. You can create special to do items, like “help weeding the garden” for folks to sign up for. One thing that is great is that you can mention food restrictions, suggested visiting hours, suggestions like how long to stay, a reminder to wash hands…right there where people are signing up.

  29. Elizabeth says:

    Love this, especially #6!

    3 days PP after my home birth I had my in-laws who brought 2 of my BILs come over to our tiny apartment to visit and see the new baby. My husband’s cousin and her 5 year old also came later on (who i had never met prior) . At the time… we had a tiny 750 sqft apartment with all the visitors crammed into the 400sqft of the downstairs..counting my husband and I it was 8 people total (plus baby). Being new first time parents we were exhausted from little sleep, I was still recovering from the birth and was just barely being able to walk around without getting breathless and dizzy. I was also dealing with engorgement and learning how to breastfeed.

    The in-laws (with the two BILs) decided to stay around 10 HOURS..and it was the type of visit where you pretty much feel obligated to visit and entertain the ENTIRE time. Any time I would try and take the baby upstairs to get away for a bit my MIL would act hurt that I was taking the baby away because she wanted to hold him the whole time. I was in so much pain for hours from the engorgement and not being able to get away to pump a little to relieve the pressure.

    For about 3 hours towards the end of the visit is when the cousin and her daughter came over. That 5 year old was a complete terror the entire 3 hours. Pretty much the first introduction I had of her, was her trying to rip the belly button scab off of my 3 day old. She was also running around turning lights on and off, pulling the blanket off of me every time I tried to nurse the baby (back when I was still learning and incredibly shy and modest about it) Hitting, jumping on, and pulling the hair of my youngest BIL(who was 9 at the time), throwing stuff, screaming, and just being an ungodly horror with her mother yelling at her over and over and not doing anything about her behavior.

    At the same time my mother was also staying with us to help clean and cook and be there if we had any questions regarding care of the baby. But during this visit she holed up in her room upstairs and REFUSED to even come down and say hi to anyone because she didn’t feel like being social. Instead she had me running up and down the stairs bringing her food and other things so she wouldn’t have to go downstairs and see anyone. This caused constant questions from our other guests as to why she wouldn’t come down (talk about really embarrassing) and eventually caused my MIL to start crying and having a breakdown because she thought my mom hated her.

    After close to 10 hours of this visit I finally couldn’t take it anymore and was on the very edge of a breakdown myself and took the baby upstairs shaking and about to cry and stayed up there for about an hour just to get away from everyone.

    Needless to say we will be doing things WAY differently next time around.

  30. Jennifer says:

    I think this article could apply to some moms, but not all. I’ve had 3 kids and LOVED having visitors after the baby was born. It helped me feel normal and not so alone. Having people over for the couple weeks after the babies came helped me overcome and take my mind off of those dreaded baby blues. I loved when people would come and have meals with us and watch movies with us. I really loved having my mom come over and stay because she would always work on some laundry and just let me sob when the 5 o’clock witching hour arrived and I was uncontrollably hormonal for a bit. I would always get a bit down when people left. I know I’m not like all moms, but there are some out there like us. :0)

  31. carrie says:


    I’m going to edit the post a little because I DID love having visitors postpartum and didn’t mean to give the impression that I didn’t. In fact, with a couple of my babies I was on the phone after ASKING people to come see us!

    I didn’t mean to give the impression that I didn’t like visitors or that they weren’t a good idea… just to give tips on how those people can be helpful. As evidenced by the comments, moms have both good and bad experiences with people who visit. The article wasn’t written for the new mom, it was written for people who go to visit her. :-)

  32. carrie says:

    Elizabeth, thanks for sharing your story! It was for the benefit of people who had your experience that I wrote this post!

  33. carrie says:

    Amy that site is AWESOME! Thanks for sharing it, it’s a definite bookmark!

  34. carrie says:

    Mommy C I understand, I was that way with at least two of my births that I can remember. I needed people, but the above guidelines still applied. :-)

  35. carrie says:

    Yes, shorter is often better – it’s best for us to leave people wanting us to stay longer than for them to secretly wonder when we’re leaving ;)

  36. Sarah says:

    Hah, yeaa… my parents insisted coming (from out of state) for the birth of our first and when he was born (after midnight) we called them to come over from the hotel (right next to the hospital) and they were like oh that’s nice we’ll see you in the morning and then would come and sit. No help, no food, nothing. When we got discharged they would come over first thing in the morning 7:30-8am and you know, we just went back to bed for the millionth time both hubby and I since I was having a hard recovery and large dose of narcotics going through me so staying awake and alert was impossible. They would sit and hover no offering of doing anything, nothing. And act like we were awful for not entertaining them. This time around is going to be VERY different. No visitors to the house. None. If they come we aren’t letting anyone in they can drop off whatever they’re bringing to the door. That experience left such a bad taste in my mouth. Everyone is welcome at the hospital they have visiting hours and no one really wants to stay in the hospital with nurses coming in and out talking about various bodily functions and details so they leave rather quickly haha.

  37. Elizabeth says:

    Oh and not to say I dont like visitors! My husband’s grandparents came the day after I had given birth and brought 3 or 4 bags of groceries they had just bought for us. They stayed about 30 minutes talking, holding the baby and looking at pictures and watching videos from right after the birth. After the half hour or so they said they should be on their way so that we could rest (and the visit was so wonderful I would have loved for them to stay longer). It was a perfect visit, they brought enough food that lasted us at least 3-4 days and they didnt stay too long.

    Even for people who LOVE visitors after giving birth, I think the tips you wrote about definitely still apply…you arent saying everyone hates visitors and not to come over after someone has a baby but rather “here are some things to keep in mind in order to be helpful and courteous to new (and often times, very exhausted) parents”.

  38. Patty says:

    One of the things I found refreshing and now do for friends and relatives is sit and play with the toddler and encourage mom to go take a well needed nap. New borns sleep alot and most will lay in the bassinet while mom rests. Toddler’s respond with such delight when they think your visit is about them.

  39. Kate says:

    I loved having company. In fact I wanted people to come over and visit more often and I liked it when other people tried to soothe my baby or change a diaper here and there. I do agree though that asking if someone needs help with a specific thing like laundry and dishes is much more effective then asking ‘do you need anything’.

  40. Mary says:

    When my best friend had her first baby, I flew out two weeks before she was due. I painted the baby’s room (as I had been a house painter in high school & college), did laundry, handled dinner, and kept her company as she walked countless laps to try to help labor along. When she went into labor, I took the dog to the kennel, kept her company while her husband and doula took naps, and shagged coffee so she could keep the -important- people with her. She delivered nine hours before my flight home – I flew out of there without having held the baby! I didn’t visit again until a bit more than two months later… and everyone I tell this story to calls me the ‘best friend ever’. I’ve taken dinner to my SILs a week or two after their babies come home, and I’ve offered continuous housework to my newest SIL when she delivers. I figure… when I finally have one of my own, I’ll have tons of helper gnome karma worked up!

  41. carrie says:

    Wow! Everyone should be so blessed as to have a friend like you! “Helper gnome karma” – love it! :)

  42. carrie says:

    Great idea! I loved it when people thought of my other kids and brought a small toy for them to open and enjoy. Very thoughtful :)

  43. Erica says:

    I completely agree with your list and I am a very social person. I do enjoy company, but these are great basic rules to bear in mind. If the new mom wants you to stay longer, great! But if she doesn’t, you’re being sensitive to her needs without having to make her feel “guilty”.

    And I love Patty’s comment about making older children feel like the visit is about them too. With so much attention on the new baby, older kids can be sort of shuffled to the side unintentionally. They need attention too, and as a mom worried about how her 7 year old is going to react when her baby brother is born in a few days, it would make me feel so much better to see others take a special interest in my daughter. She deserves it, and I’ll be feeling guilty enough knowing that as much as I want to be with her whenever she wants, it won’t always be possible with a new baby.

  44. NaturalMama says:

    This is such an important article! I understand that specifics might change from person to person, but I hope people understand the heart of what is being said.

    I was so excited to have visitors, but for some reason was totally unable to speak up for myself or my baby; I was WAAAAAAAAY too polite and some of those visits really stressed me out.

    I remember one mom who brought me a meal but her children were perusing every room of the house. I remember the stress welling up inside of me. By the time they left I had a couple of plugged ducts!! Seriously! I had felt the breast seize up. My house was already unorganized, but after that visit, I just cried because it was much more messy than they came in to it.

    Another visitor held my son in her lap and was rocking his head and not his body and as uncomfortable as it made me, I felt unable to say anything or take him back for about 5 min. I called my midwife after that, crying, terrified that she might have hurt him.

    I had more than one lovely friendthat although they were helpful bringing things, wouldn’t let go of my baby. I actually felt guilty asking for him back after 35 minutes, and they didn’t seem happy to let him go. *sigh*

    I battled with PPD/anxiety. Although I don’t think these types of visits caused it, the stress all adds up. It can cause a mom to question her parenting too. (Like, why didn’t I speak up?)

    Lastly, don’t sit by and smile if your 2 year old asks to hold a 2 week old. It’s not a good idea. Let them hold on to a baby doll. :)

  45. carrie says:

    I understand exactly what you’re saying – I’ve had similar experiences. This is why it’s so important for new dads to “run interference” with their partners. Postpartum women are in a vulnerable place.

  46. I completely comprehend the scenario and really feel strongly about this issue. Sometimes the feeling can be overwhelming and should be temporarily ignored in order to cope with it. I’ve found peace along with a certain resolution in taking care of myself and my family day by day.

  47. Milkshake Mandy says:

    I am due in a few weeks with our third child. I’m posting this on my FB page to give everyone an idea of what would be appreciated when they visit! A great article!

  48. Andie says:

    I love that posters are thinking about older children in the family. I just had my second and most of the stress of bringing home a new baby was helping my 21 month old son get used to the change. The most useful visitors came to the home, greeted my son first and spend a couple minutes with him. Then the REALLY useful ones stayed about an hour and held the baby while used that opportunity to play and cuddle with my older son. New mom’s with older children need to take every chance to spend one on one time with their older children. The babies don’t care, they’re sleeping most of the time anyway – it’s the older ones with the real feelings and they actually know what’s going on!

  49. Kathie says:

    I dislike the tone of this piece. It smacks of victimy to me. (Been there, done that.)
    I do agree with this:

    “Most new Moms in our culture are unlikely to ask for help.”

    That’s the problem, IMO…we in this culture must learn to speak our truth, and ask for what we want…stop expecting others to know what want, need, like. It’s clear from the responses that there there are a wide variety of preferences.
    Same with labor and birth!

  50. Gerry says:

    My in-laws came 3 weeks after I had a c-section delivery of my daughter. They expected three meals a day and complained about an unstocked fridge because “Dad needs to eat tomatoes with lunch.” They never asked how I was feeling, whether they could do dishes or laundry. Finally, three days into the visit, my in-laws and husband sat down to watch TV. Dishes piled in the sink, my daughter crying her head off (first signs of colic), I limped upstairs and didn’t say good-night. Next birth, I told my husband they could stay for 2 days … in a hotel.

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