The birth of a new baby is so exciting! If we’re exceptionally close to the parents to be, chances are we have just as strong of an emotional attachment to the unborn baby as the parents do. It’s no surprise that we are super excited to rush to the hospital to visit the new blessing upon their arrival. My family was no different with the births of my two children, but they also have the visiting routine down to a tight niche. I’ve learned from them and added in a few helpful hints for you. Here are 9 VERY important rules for visiting a mom in the hospital.
1. Call First – Yes, she knows that people are going to come and visit, but if you are not a member of the immediate family or talk to the new parents very often, you may not be as welcome for a visit at the hospital as you think that you are! Giving birth to a baby takes your body and mind to a totally different space. The mom will likely be dressed in intimates that she may not want you to see, or her hair may be very disheveled. The hospital that I birthed my daughter in, offers moms a “quiet time” during certain times of the day. This time is reserved for the mother to rest with absolutely no interruptions from nurses, the doctor, hospital staff, phone calls, or visitors. If you arrive during this time, you will be asked to leave or wait in the waiting area. There is no arguing! If you simply take a moment and call her room or her spouses cell before visiting, you will save yourself the trouble of disturbing a resting mom. That rest is so important! Don’t say I didn’t warn you
2. Bring a Gift – Yes, you gifted mom something at her baby shower, but a trip to visit her when she may look and feel a little fragile deserves an additional gift. A card from the dollar section at Target or a balloon from the hospital’s gift shop will do just fine. This is also a great time to give a gift to a new sibling. My mom found my son a really nice shirt from the hospital’s gift shop that saluted him as a great big brother. His great aunt’s made sure that he had candy.
3. Wash your hands – Washing your hands before hugging mom or holding a new baby is so vital to their health. It doesn’t matter if you pump a million squirts of that wall attached hand sanitizer into your hands, you still need to stop by the sink with warm water and soap. Make sure that mom or dad see you doing this. It will save you the embarrassment of having to prove that you did. Make sure that you make your children do the same if they visit with you. Be sure and place your personal items including your phone down before washing your hands and while holding the newborn. If you are ill, just stay away until you are 100% well.
4. Offer to Help – The last thing that new or seasoned parents should have to worry about during the birth of a child is housework or preparing a meal. The average mom probably has about 5 visitors to visit the hospital after giving birth. If all 5 of those visitors offered to help around the birth parents home or cooked at least two meals a piece for the birth parents, the first two weeks at home with their new baby would be such an easy adventure. If you are not a fan of cooking for someone or cleaning someone’s home, check out Groupon or Living Social’s cleaning services. Sometimes you can find a deal for as low as $35. Meal delivery services are also an option if you would rather not cook. Send healthy food options to the new mom especially if she has decided to nurse her baby. This will help with her milk production.
5. Ask before you snap – Please ask the mom and dad for permission before taking pictures of their new baby. No, it’s not because they are on celebrity status, it’s out of respect for the parents. Some parents prefer for their child to be dressed in clothes instead of a hospital onesie before having their first picture taken. Grandparents, this rule doesn’t apply to you! Do not share their child’s picture with anyone especially on social media without their permission first. Grandparents, this does apply to you. If you want a new mom to fight you or never speak to you again, share her child’s picture before she has a chance to do so. Most moms will allow you to have a personal picture, but they may want to send you baby’s first hospital pics in a greeting card. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
6. Never sit in the new mom’s bed – The hospital staff is instructed to change hospital linens once a day during a mother’s hospital stay unless she has soiled linens. It is best if you leave her bed sanitary by not sitting on it. I made an exception for certain friends and family members to sit at the foot of my bed, but that was it. Moms may also make an exception for her own children to hop into bed for a hug, snuggle, or a better peek at their new baby during their visit, but this is not extended to you or your children. I know what you’re thinking, “Carmen, we already know that.” Honey, you would be surprised!
7. Respect the Rules of the Hospital – This also includes the rules of the doctor. If there is a max number of visitors allowed during visiting hours, please adhere to the policy. It’s not to spoil your fun, it’s to ensure the safety of the patient and other patients. The more visitors the more noise. It’s selfish and rude to prevent other resting moms from having a quiet rest. It is also very creepy to have guest loitering around your hospital rooms door. Cesarean patients have just undergone major surgery and are often asked by their doctors to walk the hallway briefly for a few minutes a day. This is to prevent blood clots and helps the intestines begin to properly function again. The last thing that a new mom wants to see is a creepy person standing in the hallway watching her, or making her feel as if she’s being watched. Please just be kind and wait in the hospitals waiting room.
8. Don’t overstay your visit – A visit to a new mom in the hospital should not last more than one hour. Now, this does not include immediate family, a best friend, or grandparents. Because of the limited amount of space in a hospital room, you should allow other visitors adequate space and time to visit the new mom and baby. With permission from mom, you should visit the next day or when she is released to go home.
9. Reserve your affection – Remember that Cold, Flu, RSV, Strep-Throat, Herpes Virus 1 & 2, and many other germs are highly contagious to a new mom and her baby. If you are your children are experiencing any of these mild or severe symptoms, please do not visit until you are completely well. If you are a grandparent and can’t contain yourself for a visit, wear a breathing mask and gloves to prevent both mom and baby from getting sick. The immune system of a new baby and mom are very fragile after giving birth. While new babies are so adorably cute, kissing them can do more harm than intended. I think the safest way to show affection to a new baby is by kissing their cute little feet or the top of their heads.