Every new-mom-to-be should post a link to this post either on their own blog or on facebook.
Everyone else should read this and remember! The best visitors with DS1 were just like this and 6 years later we still comment on how nice it was.
My attention was drawn this morning to an excellent, straight-to-the-points post entitled "How to Be the Best Postpartum Visitor in 15 Minutes Or Less". It is spot-on. By way of introduction, she says:This visit is NOT about you. It is not about the parents hosting you and putting on a cup of tea so you can sit and visit and hold the baby. Think about how you would feel if you had either had surgery or ran a triathlon. What would you want people to do for you? This visit is about blessing the parents and making their life a little bit easier. Your prize is getting a quick peek at the cute new human.
Quite. I can't tell you how many moms are expected to play hostess to their visitors while they're still undergoing major healing, and possibly even more significantly, adjusting to the seismic shift that has just taken place in their lives. Postpartum visits need to be made in loving service TO the mother and new family. Here's her list of criteria for the perfect visit:1. Bring a healthy meal. Include a salad or fresh vegetables. Only use disposable dishes. There is nothing more annoying than
a) having to wash more dishes when you have a new baby
b) having to try to return dishes to all sorts of random people when you have a new baby
2. In addition to your meal, bring cut up veggies and fruit, unsalted trail mix or nuts, or other such healthy snacks for daytime munching for mom to eat while she's nursing.
3. Go into the kitchen and spend 5 minutes clearing off a counter, washing a sink-full of dishes, loading the dishwasher etc. Don't ask permission, just do it. Then set the table for their dinner.
4. Before you leave your house, put some paper towels and some powdered bathroom cleaner like Commet or Ajax in a baggie. Stick it in your purse. While you are at the house, go and use the washroom...and while in there do a three minute bathroom shine-up, using your paper towels and cleaner.
5. Coo over the baby, but wash your hands before touching it.
6. If they want to eat right then, heat the food up and put it on the table, give everybody kisses and then leave.
7. Take the garbage out when you go.
Awesome, right? Even if your visits are professional (as a doula or lactation consultant or some other solicited service) there's still wisdom in the core message.
This post reminded me of a post I did on the same a while back,
"The Answer is Always Yes", from which I excise one final point to add to the basically perfect list above.I have one final suggestion. This is something to tell her in response to the inquiries of other friends and relatives who will want to visit. Almost invariably, when people arrange to come calling on a new family, they ask "Is there anything I can bring you? Pick up at the store? Anything?" THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS "YES". ALWAYS! This goes back to the learning-to-ask-for-help thing. It is SO HARD for us to get this lesson, and stop trying to prove we are superwomen who can do everything all by ourselves immediately after delivering the placenta, but there's no time like the postpartum period to start feeling comfortable with it. Have her keep a notepad by the phone, or in a very handy place if she relies on her cell. This notepad would be a great inexpensive gift, especially if a pen is attached so she doesn't have to look for one over and over. She can then keep a running list of things that she and the household need, just jotting them down as she goes. Orange juice, witch hazel, baby wipes, red raspberry leaf tea, onions, sanitary pads, flax meal, Rescue Remedy, dark chocolate, burp cloths, fresh fruit, a new thermometer, WHATEVER. If the list is literally empty, and she can't think of *anything* else - ASK FOR TOILET PAPER. It can always be added to the household stash. Make her repeat it with you: "The answer is always 'Yes'!"
It's more of an exhortation to the new mother, but friends and loved ones who are aware of this idea can encourage her in their phone calls prior to the visit, and help her to say embrace the yes.
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That's a great post. We knew that no one we know would do any of that, so we just said no visitors for two weeks, and we loved it. It took a bit of planning ahead, having enough groceries & meals made, but it was great to not have to bother with anyone while healing up & getting to know our new person & figuring things out as a new family.
Join the revolution & take back our holidays!
Change Black Friday into Buy Nothing Day, and don't take your credit cards to work on Cyber Monday.
Shift Your Shopping from mass marketers & big box stores to your local independent retailers & small artisans.
Practice a Buy Nothing Christmas. Instead of buying more things, give gifts of your time, your energy, and maybe even some unwanted things around your home; organize a used items gift swap among your family and/or friends.
Terrific post Janel!
I need to learn to say yes in certain parts of my life.
Oddly enough, I'm at the stage where I've learned to say NO. I'd say, NO, please visit when the baby is 12!
But really, as the saying goes, "It takes a village"... We all need support.
I think this saying yes is so necessary...and not simply for new families. I could really have used more help when my parents had dementia.
I've noticed you being so wise about accepting kindnesses and help from your neighbors recently. I'm full of admiration friend!
Ivy (4) visits Nana
What a great post! I have a great group of friends, and whenever one of us has a baby, we pitch in to supply a bunch of meals for the mom to keep in her freezer. I've learned a lot about how to be a good friend from these ladies. Now that it's my turn, I am looking forward to the meals and the help and the support! I am one who would always say yes to helping others but no to being helped myself, and I have learned the error of my ways. I will take all the help I can get!
Really good post. My mom helped for one day after I came home from the hospital with DS and a few people brought meals. With DD, my mom brought dinner one day and that was it. I was so overwhelmed for the first few weeks as DH didn't get any time off work. Looking back, it's probably because when people offered to help, I wasn't very accepting or I would downplay how much help I needed. I am forwarding this to my sister who is due in August!
Great post. Thanks so much for sharing.
Christy birth doula, Hypnobabies instructor, small business owner & most importantly MOMMY.
Elijah Nolan 3-1-05
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Aisley May 10-27-11