Visiting New Parents? Follow These Tips!

Visiting New Parents? Follow These Tips!

Visiting the New Parents? Follow These Tips!

Congratulations on the newest member of your family or circle of friends!  We know you are so excited to meet this new little one and visit with his or her parents. Wondering how you can be helpful and make that visit enjoyable for everyone? Check out these tried and true tips on how to support a new family!:

Keep good boundaries.

Whether two people are becoming a family of three, or a family of 10 is expanding to 11, adapting roles and finding a new rhythm can be challenging!  Try to imagine the family as the inner dot in a circle, surrounded by you and other family members or friends in increasingly wider circles.  Everyone in the outer circles should be sending support into the center. This way, the new family can rightfully be a little selfish and focus on their new addition, without trying meet the needs of anyone in the outer circles. Looking forward to that precious four-generation photo? Let’s keep those special and loving ideas to a minimum in the first few weeks. 

Imagine the family as the inner dot in a circle, surrounded by you and other family members or friends in increasingly wider circles.  Everyone in the outer circles should be sending support into the center.

Provide supportive, no-pressure communication.

Know what works best for parents (i.e. text messages, phone calls, or other), but remind them there is no obligation to respond! Set up a schedule where you reach out to them and they can answer whenever they are ready. Pick a designated “communicator” whose job is to send out news and updates or solicit help from the rest of your tribe.   

Check their to-do list.

Ask if the new parents have a to-do list you can help with. (If not, help them write one!) They can put their to-do list on the front door or on the refrigerator. Ideas include chores, pet care, a grocery run, or anything that weighs on a mind and keeps it from napping! Visitors can check the list to see what they can help with.

Follow these guidelines for good visits:

  • Before you visit, call to find out if they need you to pick something up on your way over (diapers, groceries, etc).  If nothing else, meals are always appreciated!  You can provide a whole meal, but some chopped-up fruit or veggie sticks in baggies or a peanut butter sandwich ready for one-handed snacking is a big treat.
  • When you arrive: Put your food offering away, or set it out if they’re hungry. Ask if the newly postpartum (and probably parched) mom would like a refill on her drink.   

  • Check the to-do list and offer to complete a chore. They may not know what to assign you or may not feel comfortable asking (i.e. they’ll never ask someone to pick up the dog poop!) but helping with those small tasks will be greatly appreciated.
  • Admire the baby and take some pictures to give the new parents (who often forget to take pictures that include themselves). We know it’s so hard, but try not to ask to hold the baby! Baby needs this skin-to-skin time with his parents more than anything else in the first few weeks.  However, if they ask you to hold the baby so they can shower or move a little bit – lucky you! Wash your hands, please, and refrain from kissing newborn babies!

  • Keep the visit short.  Unless otherwise requested, limit the length of your visit so the new family can have time to bond, breastfeed, and rest!

Offer emotional support.

Both parents can suffer bouts of anxiety, irritability, or depression in the days and months after baby is born.  Ask how they’re feeling emotionally and lend an ear to listen.  If you’re concerned, it is okay to say so and to suggest they call their midwife or doctor. You can even call us on their behalf!  Postpartum Support International’s hotline is 1-800-944-4773.  There is loving and professional treatment available.

Offer one-on-one time with older siblings.

Consider coming prepared with an idea for an activity that you might both enjoy: a card game, a game of 20 questions, I spy, finger-knitting, a trip to the zoo, and so on!

Think outside the visit.

As much as new  parents love to show off their bundle of joy, they’re trying to balance that with establishing a rhythm in the home. Let’s get creative about ways to share the love but not the germs!

  • Create a chain of prayer flags or well wishes that can be delivered to the house and express the greetings of each family member or friend in a colorful yet quiet way!

  • Schedule a video call for extended family to visit and see the new baby. If there are siblings, you can set these calls up for every day, but let mom and baby play hooky and stay in bed if they need to.   

  • Set up delivery of meals, and designate a delivery person who is comfortable getting it to the front door and not staying! 

  • Send mail. We’ve lost the art of letter writing and patience in waiting for physical mail, but it feels so good to get real mail!  Bonus – it can be saved in a baby book for reading later!

  • Create a family time capsule for baby to open years from now. You can include pictures, notes, and things that you’re enjoying as a family. Top ten lists of your favorite movies, books, music, family recipes, and restaurants can be fun. Have fun with this!

  • Pitch in together on a gift that may be outside anyone’s individual budget. A lactation consult, a massage, a postpartum doula package, a housecleaning package, diaper service, portrait package, a month’s car payment or home rent – these are all ways to team up and help the new family feel the love of their tribe.

 Thank you for supporting your friends, family, and their new baby!

Olga Ryan MS-NL, RN

Director, Babymoon Inn Tucson

Olga has been in Perinatal nursing since 1995 and in birth center nursing since 2006.  She has been studying leadership her whole life and recently joined the Babymoon Inn team as director of the Tucson location.

You May Also Like These Recent Articles!

How to be an Awesome Birth Partner

Five Ways You Can be an Awesome Birth Partner Pssst.  Hey you, yes YOU. The partner. The support person. The other half.I know right now a lot of the attention is placed on the pregnant person (rightfully so!), but YOU’RE super important, too. Right now more than...

Actually, Birth Never Needed to be in the Hospital

Actually, Birth Never Needed to be in the HospitalEvaluating birth choices while pregnant in the time of COVID-19.Take a deep breath.If you read that headline and bristled, let me clarify this before I even begin:  For people who are high-risk, ill, or who personally...

Dear Pregnant People, You Can Get Through This

The following is a guest blog written by Natalie Vitez, who is currently expecting her first child.

Yes, You Still Need a Doula!

Even if you've found yourself saying any of these things while you’re preparing your birth (and postpartum!) plans, there’s a good chance that you will still benefit from having a doula support you throughout your pregnancy, birth and postpartum! Do any of these apply...

What NOT To Do in Labor

If you’re pregnant, there’s a good chance you’ve perused books, read articles, and taken classes giving you suggestions on what to do when you’re in labor.  Move, breathe, change positions, bring a doula, stay hydrated, etc. But there are few additional things we...

You CAN still transfer care to a birth center: Five myths busted!

Transferring care to a birth center more than halfway through my pregnancy turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. All of the concerns I had about switching providers later in pregnancy turned out to be myths, as you'll read below!   "I won't have time...
Bringing Home the Newest Baby

Bringing Home the Newest Baby

Bringing Home the Second Baby

Tips from a Mother of Three

When I prepared to bring home my second child, I had a laundry list of concerns.  I chalked most of these up to pregnancy hormones, but there were two questions I didn’t have answers for until the time came:

How will our only child adjust to being a big brother?

How will I do with two, and later three, young kids?

Our days, our camera roll, our everything revolved around our first born. We knew that once we brought home “Baby MacDos,” it would be up to our oldest to let us know how those early days would go.

Coming from large families on either side, we knew that they would have fun together and grow up with a lifetime friend. But we also feared our eldest’s reaction because of one too many stories from individuals who told us their not-so-positive Bringing Home Baby stories.

Now as a mother of three and a birth doula, I’ve collected some no-pressure tips that I applied to my family and have advised over the years to ease the transition to becoming parents of more than one child.

  • Read books about becoming an older sibling.

Keep the books together and make a basket mixed with your child’s favorites. Read throughout pregnancy and in the early postpartum days when you are sitting and resting frequently. This is a perfect time to enrich their growing brain and get that cuddle time from Mom or Dad.  (You can find some of our favorite books in our Amazon shop)

  • Have realistic expectations.

Don’t build up expectations of your kids’ reactions when they meet their newest sibling. Our gentle and sweet first born was sleep deprived and bewildered by the hospital environment he walked into when he met his new brother. Looking back, We realize just how bizarre and jostling that all can be. Your eldest could embrace their new sibling the moment they meet them, or it may be a process.  Both are normal.

  • Allow and talk about all the emotions.

Just like us as adults, your child has to say goodbye to the old way of life. And just like us, they have their own way of dealing with it. You could be experiencing new outbursts and emotions you have never seen come from you child. Allow those emotions. What better gift to have than to know that your child feels safe enough with you to allow you to know how they feel.

Talk about the normalcy of feeling sad, angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, etc. When we discuss those emotions we allow our kids to feel them and then make room to have positive emotions and experiences with their newest sibling.

  • Speak your child’s love language.

My first born loves quality time. This speaks to him more than words or physical affection or gifts “from the baby.” When his sibling was born, we didn’t need to take elaborate trips out of the house. Quality time for us meant trips to the backyard while baby napped, and 15 minutes of pushing him on a swing and chatting. Our second born feels most at peace with physical touch, which made those story time cuddles that much more important.

  • Include them in the care of their newest sibling.

Maybe they can grab a “cuddle toy” for baby or turn on the sound machine. You know your babies best. Whatever would speak to their heart, ask them to join you in on that! When Baby MacDos became a big brother last year, he wanted to sing to the new baby. His choice of song? The Pirates of the Caribbean theme song. Maybe it wasn’t the song I would have chosen for that picture perfect moment, but it came from his heart and we let him express his love in his way. 

  • Take a sibling class.

Many hospitals and birth centers offer sibling classes to help prepare for the new baby and to help spark conversation about the upcoming changes to the family dynamic. Sibling classes also offer an opportunity for the oldest child to spend quality one-on-one or one-on-two time with their parent.

  • Give yourself grace.

You just became a parent to a whole new person. Don’t let the fast paced culture we live in bend you into guilt-ridden sobs and negative thoughts over what you aren’t doing.

If getting your toddler in the car has taught you anything, it is that we can’t rush the process.

Embrace the whimsy of your child. Hold onto the weird blend of days as a new chapter in a grand adventure. One day, really soon, you’ll cherish that photo of your older child in his mismatched outfit and pout in the newborn photos. You’ll have a story to tell and it might even be your favorite photo among the files of perfectly posed pictures.

Raquel MacDonald

Doula, Babymoon Inn

Raquel is a mother to three boys and a certified Babymoon Inn Doula. She loves working in her community to reach and educate new parents on all things birth and postpartum care.

You May Also Like These Recent Articles!

How to be an Awesome Birth Partner

Five Ways You Can be an Awesome Birth Partner Pssst.  Hey you, yes YOU. The partner. The support person. The other half.I know right now a lot of the attention is placed on the pregnant person (rightfully so!), but YOU’RE super important, too. Right now more than...

Actually, Birth Never Needed to be in the Hospital

Actually, Birth Never Needed to be in the HospitalEvaluating birth choices while pregnant in the time of COVID-19.Take a deep breath.If you read that headline and bristled, let me clarify this before I even begin:  For people who are high-risk, ill, or who personally...

Dear Pregnant People, You Can Get Through This

The following is a guest blog written by Natalie Vitez, who is currently expecting her first child.

Yes, You Still Need a Doula!

Even if you've found yourself saying any of these things while you’re preparing your birth (and postpartum!) plans, there’s a good chance that you will still benefit from having a doula support you throughout your pregnancy, birth and postpartum! Do any of these apply...

What NOT To Do in Labor

If you’re pregnant, there’s a good chance you’ve perused books, read articles, and taken classes giving you suggestions on what to do when you’re in labor.  Move, breathe, change positions, bring a doula, stay hydrated, etc. But there are few additional things we...

You CAN still transfer care to a birth center: Five myths busted!

Transferring care to a birth center more than halfway through my pregnancy turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. All of the concerns I had about switching providers later in pregnancy turned out to be myths, as you'll read below!   "I won't have time...

How to be an Awesome Birth Partner

How to be an Awesome Birth Partner

Five Ways You Can be an Awesome Birth Partner

Pssst.  Hey you, yes YOU.

The partner. The support person. The other half.

I know right now a lot of the attention is placed on the pregnant person (rightfully so!), but YOU’RE super important, too. Right now more than ever.  You’ve been running out for those late-night snacks, you’ve been there for the pregnancy milestones and now you’re wondering how to prepare for labor.

You may have just learned that no one else will be allowed to come to your birth location with you. Perhaps you were planning to have a doula present alongside your mom and mother-in-law. Maybe you had plans all along for it to be just the two of you. Either way – you may be wondering, “What can I do? How can I provide the best support?”

I’m a doula – a person trained in supporting people through labor and birth –  and I’m here to share with you some of the best tips I have for supporting a person in labor.

  • Take care of yourself

You may have read that and thought, “What?! What about the person having the baby?” But seriously, you have to take care of yourself too.  Eat, drink. Bring lots of snacks. Please. Use the bathroom. Many, many times I have had to remind partners to eat and use the bathroom during labor. Rest if she is resting, or take a break. Nurses and birth assistants will be your best friend. Let them know you need just a moment to step out in the hall. I promise you won’t miss the birth of your baby during this brief moment. PRO TIP: Pack breath mints or gum – your partner will thank you for it.

  • Offer physical support

As the birth partner, you likely you already know where the laboring person appreciates touch when needing comfort. 

Massage: The neck or lower back are good places to start. You can offer foot rubs or temple rubs too. More ideas here.

Counter pressure: Place force with your hands on the lower back or hips to alleviate pressure. YouTube can help you out beforehand with how-to videos.

Movement: Help her stay moving. SO important. Even if pain management is used, work with the care team to help her change positions in bed. Maybe she is out of bed and you’re slow dancing back and forth.

  • Offer emotional support

Perhaps your partner is getting tired/worried/stressed, or maybe she is rocking right along! Encourage her! When she says, “I can’t do this,” remind her “You ARE doing this.” 

Other ideas:

“You are so strong and capable.”

“You are safe.”

“Your body knows how to do this.”

“We are a great team. I love you.”

“We’re going to meet our baby soon.”

You will know what to say in the moment. Perhaps you have a shared inside joke. It’s okay to joke in labor – do it! At some point in labor she may not laugh at your jokes anymore. Don’t worry – it’s not because you aren’t funny anymore, it’s because things are moving along wonderfully.

  • Breathe

Easy right? Well during labor, a birthing person may feel the urge to tense up and hold their breath, and you may do the same. Encourage her to do this with you. Develop a rhythm. Slow deep breath in through your nose and deep exhale out. Encourage her to make noise while doing this if needed. You can place an affirmation here too “Nice, big, deep breath for you and baby.”

  • Hire a doula, and take childbirth classes!

If your hospital has instituted a one-support-person rule, you can still hire a doula for virtual support. “Virtual doulas” can meet with you virtually before the birth to help you plan and prepare. They can walk you through the tips I have mentioned here (and more!). They can support you with finding evidence-based information to make decisions. They can be available as an emotional outlet before, during and after labor. They can call, text, and/or be continually present through video chat during labor to support not only the birthing person but you as well.

Don’t skip the childbirth classes! You’ll both learn about the ins/outs of labor from start to finish, comfort measures, how to navigate medical interventions, breastfeeding, newborn care, and more. Good childbirth classes are designed to help you be the best support person you can be!  A lot of times, fear comes from the unknown. Childbirth education classes can fill in a lot of those unknowns for both of you. And thanks to technology and online learning and meeting platforms, you can now take many classes from the comfort of your living room.

You’ve got this.

You can and will be an AMAZING support person.

Danielle Shelton

Doula, Babymoon Inn

Danielle Shelton received her bachelor’s degree in Communications from Arizona State University. She is a wife and mother of two, and a Babymoon-Inn Certified Doula.

You May Also Like These Recent Articles!

How to be an Awesome Birth Partner

Five Ways You Can be an Awesome Birth Partner Pssst.  Hey you, yes YOU. The partner. The support person. The other half.I know right now a lot of the attention is placed on the pregnant person (rightfully so!), but YOU’RE super important, too. Right now more than...

Actually, Birth Never Needed to be in the Hospital

Actually, Birth Never Needed to be in the HospitalEvaluating birth choices while pregnant in the time of COVID-19.Take a deep breath.If you read that headline and bristled, let me clarify this before I even begin:  For people who are high-risk, ill, or who personally...

Dear Pregnant People, You Can Get Through This

The following is a guest blog written by Natalie Vitez, who is currently expecting her first child.

Yes, You Still Need a Doula!

Even if you've found yourself saying any of these things while you’re preparing your birth (and postpartum!) plans, there’s a good chance that you will still benefit from having a doula support you throughout your pregnancy, birth and postpartum! Do any of these apply...

What NOT To Do in Labor

If you’re pregnant, there’s a good chance you’ve perused books, read articles, and taken classes giving you suggestions on what to do when you’re in labor.  Move, breathe, change positions, bring a doula, stay hydrated, etc. But there are few additional things we...

You CAN still transfer care to a birth center: Five myths busted!

Transferring care to a birth center more than halfway through my pregnancy turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. All of the concerns I had about switching providers later in pregnancy turned out to be myths, as you'll read below!   "I won't have time...

Pin It on Pinterest