I read the other day that one of the best things you can do when visiting a new Mum, is to offer to take her precious bundle of joy for a walk.  Seriously?  On what planet is that good advice?   ‘I’m going to make a sweeping generalisation here, but most new mums I know are not ready to let their new little person out of their sight.  Hell it’s traumatic leaving them to go for a wee.  We check them every two minutes to make sure they are still breathing.  There’s no way on this earth that you are taking my new-born baby out into the big wide world and away from me.

Not to mention the fact that when I can eventually summon the energy to get out of these Pj’s and do something with my hair, it will be me who takes my baby out for their first walk in their shiny new pram.  I’ve dreamt about it for the last nine months.  Every time I had my head down the toilet cursing the phrase ‘morning sickness‘.  ‘Morning’ my arse.  Every time I had to get up in the middle of the night for a pee, or four.  Every time I spent five minutes trying to get whatever I had just dropped from the floor.  Everytime I spent my evenings doing Gaviscon shots.  It was all for those precious moments.

So no, I’m sorry, but offering to take my beautiful new baby out for a walk is not in any way helpful.

New mums are in a temporary state of blissful bewilderment.  They are in a newborn fog and are not quite themselves.  They will reemerge eventually, the friend you know and love, but the person that stands in her place right now might need to be treated a little differently.  So here are my rules for visiting a new mum…

Visiting Rules

1 Do not knock loudly

Unless you want to be greeted by a punch in the face.

2 Don’t bring flowers

It always strikes me a such an inconvenient gift for a new Mum.  She’s just been dealt the biggest whoop ass bundle of responsibility, and that can be pretty overwhelming.  Why not add to that by giving her something else to keep alive too.  Instead, if you want to give her a really nice and meaningful gift, consider personalised gifts for mums.

3 Do not say you are tired

You have no idea what tired is.  That time you did an all nighter and went to work the next day doesn’t come close.  What your friend is experiencing right now is sleep deprivation combined with a form of sleep torture.
Imagine every time you close your eyes an alarm goes off.  You have to get out of bed to switch that alarm off.  Sometimes the alarm switches off before you reach it and you climb back into bed and lay there worrying about whether or not the alarm is going to go off again.  Sometimes it goes off and you can’t turn it off.  No matter what you try it just keeps going and going and going.  Then when it eventually stops and you crawl back into bed you lay here worrying about why you couldn’t get it to stop. Sometimes it doesn’t go off, but you think you heard it go off so you get out of bed just to check. Imagine that.  All night.  Every night.  Don’t say you are tired.

4 Do tell her she did a great job

Childbirth is one of the single most terrifying and amazing and empowering experiences a woman will ever go through.  We get nowhere near enough credit for it.  Yes the baby is very cute, but do you know what I did to get that thing out!  It doesn’t matter whether she chanted her way through some kind of hypno birth or demanded all the drugs in the delivery room.  Whether that baby was pushed out, pulled out, head first or feet first, she did an amazing thing that deserves to be recognised.  In fact Dads should put a reminder in their phone to regularly complement their other halves on what a great job they did. Even when the kids are 10.  Seriously, we can never here it enough.  I mean, we made another human being.  

5 Do tell her she looks nice

The last thing any new mum feels is glamorous.  She has a weird jelly like belly that she is absolutely terrified is never going away.  Her boobs are engorged and leak at any opportunity.  Her clothes are all either too big or too small.  She has stitches in her foo, and is wearing a maternity pad that resembles sanitary towels circa 1980’s, and it’s so big it makes her waddle.  She could do with a pick me up.

6 Do not keep checking your phone

Somebody may have just tagged you in a picture of last nights shenanigans, but the thought of a night out on the town is more than she can handle right now.  The thought of our new responsibility can sometimes make us want to run for the nearest bar and start slugging shots of tequilla like there’s no tomorrow.  But we also want to be at home cuddling our tiny, preferably sleeping, person.  It causes us a rush of mixed emotions that in our current state can only be handled in one way.  Crying.  Crying at anything and everything for very good reasons, or absolutely no reason at all.

7 Do not offer to do housework

This kind of depends of your friendship status.  Bff’s, grab the hoover and knock yourself out.  But any lesser status your helpfulness is greatly offensive.  We are trying hard to look like we have this gig under control, but under the surface our legs are paddling like mad, and we are not sure in what direction.  “Would you like me to do some dusting?” can be easily translated as “You live in a filthy slum”.

8 Do take food

The two individuals in front of you don’t really know which way is up at the moment. You are likely to find milk in the bread-bin and a cooked meal in the microwave cold and forgotten about.  They are just about managing to make a cup of tea, but are in the process of learning they will not enjoy a hot one for a good few years to come.  Making a meal they can simply re-heat will earn you major brownie points. That kind of gift determines which list you get put on when they are ready for that night out; the baby sitter or the one they are doing shots with.  I know which one I’d rather be on.   

9 Do not say you never want kids

Unless you don’t want to be invited back again.
Most of these rules apply whether it is baby number 1, 2 or 3. Although the visitors do tend to get less with each subsequent child!
If you are visiting someone who has had their second baby, and you are the kind of thoughtful person who brings a gift for the newly promoted big brother or big sister, please be thoughtful enough to ensure that gift makes no noise and has no e-numbers.
What did you find helpful when the visitors turned up?
Editors note: This post was first published in May 2016 and updated in May 2019 and republished.
This post was featured on Huffpost  

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Claire Kirby

38 Comments on Rules For Visiting a New Mum

  1. Oh my goodness the punch in the face made me larf!! Great post, although I would have gladly welcomed ANYONE picking up a hoover/doing the dishes in those early days. I was under no illusion that i had the gig together 😉 Thank you for linking up to #Thelist xx

  2. Agreed! Not just mums though, remember us dads! Particularly liked your flowers one about adding extra responsibility – we don’t have life plants in the house because it is too much responsibility. Not quite sure how Baby L has been alive for 9 months…

  3. Completely agree with all of these! I think “can I hold her now?” was the most stressful question for the first few weeks, especially when I’d just got her to sleep! Visitors who brought lunch were brilliant, and I loved my husband telling everyone how well I’d done. Any visitors coming to us were better than those expecting us to get to them with a new baby though!

  4. I can tick every one of these off as having experienced them! I am glad to know it wasn’t just me being possessive when my mother in-law offered to take my baby for a walk and in tears when my partner took too long walking round the block with her. Thank you for sharing. Emma

  5. Once my little one was about 8 weeks old I used to let my Mum take him for a walk for a couple of hours so that I could have a nap. I wouldn’t have let anyone else take him though. I would add to that list ‘do not stay too long’ and ‘make your own cup of tea’ and ‘arrive on time’. There is nothing worse than people arriving 30 minutes later than they said they would – 30 minutes is time for a nap. xx

  6. Brilliant tips.
    Especially liked number 2. It all boils down to common sense however its often over-looked.
    And as for number 9, my daughter was given a giant pack of haribo’s when my son was born, great idea that was!!! what is wrong with people. its hard to be grateful when people are so clueless.
    Thanks for the laughs #FridayFrolics

  7. Ha, love this advice…although is it still acceptable to sometimes want to open the door and punch people in the face when your baby is 18 moths old..?! x

    • But then they put things back in the wrong place and I break out in hives just thinking about it.
      I may have a slight OCD problem!

  8. You’re right, offering to do the housework is definitely open to interpretation (and for me always elicited the answer “No, that’s fine, no problem, I’ll do it” as I desperately tried to pretend I was coping). But when my best friend had a new baby I used to just do the washing up without asking (while she was changing a nappy) and she loved that!

    • She will remember that when she wants to see if she can still drink like she used to and you will be her partner in crime 😉

  9. All very true, no way would I have let anyone take my babies out in the pram in the early days. I do remember being delighted at getting some lovely smellies for me from a friend along with a baby gift, was really nice to get something for me too. #FridayFrolics

  10. This is fab and all so true! Number one however, remains in place until this day! I mean, during the day is fine, you don’t need to be quiet but we have the noisiest door knocker ever, literally the noise fills the whole house with sound! On my Tesco online delivery in the ‘special instructions’ section, it clearly states – use knocker gently, there will be a toddler sleeping! I tell pizza hut and the chinese too. Although pizza hut once knocked loud and used the letterbox and woke Zach up just at the time when we were going to be devouring the hot pizza. I had a go at the driver, slammed the door in his face and followed up with an email complaint! Don’t mess with a mum who just wants to eat her damn dinner! Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  11. Uggh, I hate when people knock on the door, even worse ring the door bell.. or worse than that ring the doorbell twice! Got all this to look forward to again in 4 weeks time. I was lucky to have so many hands wanting a cuddle with my first that I managed to grab a quick shower or bath #twinklytuesday x

  12. Yes – definitely don’t stay too long! Also ask about the birth and then sit patiently without wincing as she disgorges every graffic and painful detail. I wanted to relive my experience over and over. Also I would have been delighted if somebody had offered to hold no.1 while I did some housework or had a shower (she wasn’t into being put down) but some mums might not like that! #TwinklyTuesday

  13. love this!!! They are all so true, especially the food one 🙂 in a way I hated having visitors when bubs was tiny as it meant I had to make my self look presentable and sometimes it was just too much work 🙂 xx

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