Here are 11 tips on how to be the best visitor a postpartum parent has ever had!
1) Don’t ask, just help. Many new parents will turn down help for fear of burdening or inconveniencing others. Try to make it clear that it would bring you Joy to help them around the house because you know how hard it is to adjust to the postpartum period
2) Entertain the older children. This is by far the biggest way you can help with a 2nd 3rd or 15th arrival of a new family member. If you are trusted enough to take them out for lunch or to a park go for it. If you’re not familiar or comfortable enough with that, bring quiet low maintenance activities such as making play dough, baking, coloring etc. Just make sure you clean up afterwards and enlist the kids help in helping their mom.
3) Feed them. All of them. Buy food and bring it to the house and cook. This will also give you a great excuse to clean their kitchen! While you’re at it…change the garbage, wipe down the cupboards etc
4) If you can’t cook, feed them anyway! With some favourite fast food, store bought salads, or whatever you want, and like seriously, clean their kitchen, or bring disposable plates and dishes and then change the garbage (are you sensing a theme here?)
5) Bring healthy, easy to keep snacks for the new mom or the kids
6) Sit and listen, watch t.v, offer low maintenance company because postpartum is both overwhelming and fucking lonely at times. There maybe some serious FOMO going on with new parents. Sometimes just coming over to watch the walking dead or playing a video game can be just as helpful to them.
7) This is an oldie, but a goodie: hold the baby so the new parents can go take care of themselves. Perhaps a nap, or a shower would be the best gift you can give them
8) Offer to get things for them. This could mean getting the baby bath set up, or grabbing milk and toilet paper on your way in.
9) Bring something for the new parents, onesies and blankets are great too. But some organic bubble bath might be just what a new parent who has just given birth might need to get a decent sleep tonight, or nap, or at least attempt to sleep
10) Remember that they may feel odd, uncomfortable feelings, that make little sense to them. They might be suffering from conflict in their family, financial stress or the baby blues etc. Try your best to just sit and be with them, empathise. Even if this is their second third or 15th baby it’s still a huge transition for the mind body and soul to go through. They might be fragile and vulnerable, be prepared to remind them that their feelings are valid and it is OK to be vulnerable. (We all could use that reminder from time to time)
11) Just surround them with love. Whatever that looks like for you and them
A helpful saying to remember when visiting a new parent (or anyone who is sick or struggling with a life transition) is to empty what is full, and to fill what is empty.
Seriously, just change the garbage, fill their glass of water, empty the dishwasher, and fill their home with support and love.
What would you add? Is there a gift that someone gave you after you had a baby that you are greatful for? What would you like to see published in the next list?
-Kate Williamson birth and postpartum doula, PSW and mom of 3