Friends and family are always eager to visit new moms in the hospital and see the baby. Before you do this, however, make sure you’re sensitive to the needs of a woman who has just given birth. Here are the top seven things new mamas want you to know before visiting them in the hospital. About the author: Sam McCulloch (bellybelly.com.au). BellyBelly is “Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting Website For Thinking Women and Men”. Image courtesy of famveldman via Bigstockphoto.
Most of us love baby announcements.
We love the idea of someone having a tiny, fresh new bundle of joy to love and if we’re being completely honest, we want to sample some of that fresh newborn sweetness!
Cue rushing on over to the hospital as soon as visiting hours begin and joining the queue of baby admirers.
We tend to get so excited about THE BABY we forget about the new mama and what she needs right now.
We assume she’s thrilled to be showing off her new baby – but is she?
Here are 7 things new mamas would like potential visitors to know before they visit the hospital:
Yes – this the SOLE reason why you want to hightail it over to the hospital.
But just stop and think for a moment – in a matter of [insert how many] hours ago, a little human being made the huge transition from uterus to the outside of the mother’s body.
Whether she laboured for hours or booked in an elective c-section, there are certain things that happen after birth which don’t need an audience.
There is lochia to deal with (post birth bleeding), she may be coping with stitches or haemorrhoids, there are bound to be sore bits, and she is probably feeling ALL the feels right now.
Every new mother is different, but it’s totally possible that having people in her space and putting a happy face on might be the last thing she feels like doing.
Not sure what she’s going through? Read more about what to expect in the first week after birth.
It’s physically and mentally hard work going through labour and birth.
Most women feel amazing afterwards, because they are on a big adrenaline high. You might get euphoric messages for the first few hours and then… crash.
Unfortunately, the last few weeks of being heavily pregnant and getting zero sleep do catch up and leave the new mama totally exhausted. Newborns tend to be pretty sleepy the first few days, and this is the perfect time for mama to try and bank some zzz’s. But often, it tends to be a time of scheduling and accommodating visitors!
Soon that little bundle of joy is going to be partying at all hours, and mama is going to need all the sleep she can get. And she’ll need all the help she can get too.
This seems to come as a surprise to many people. Not all babies are born knowing what they are doing when it comes to breastfeeding.
There can be all sorts of reasons why this happens and mama doesn’t need 15 different people’s opinions on why and what do to – unless she asks!
In the early days of breastfeeding, new mothers spend a lot of time with their breasts readily available to their tiny but very hungry newborn.
While a breast being used for its purpose is not something to feel ashamed about, new mamas learning how to breastfeed, dealing with sore nipples and engorged breasts (which are a challenge to cover up), as well as tears and hormonal changes, don’t need an audience.
I know, you’ve been waiting the best part of a year to cuddle this new human. Form a line – after mum and dad!
Babies spend nine months inside a temperature-controlled, cosy environment. Everything they need is done for them.
After the birth, they aren’t comfortable being outside that safe nest (this can last for three months, which is why this period is called the fourth trimester). In the moments after birth, they search for their mother, knowing instinctively her voice and smell. They really don’t want to leave that place – and complete strangers (to the baby) don’t smell as nice or sound the same, which can be unsettling.
Not to mention – our new mama has carried and nurtured this little human being in her body for 9 months. She absolutely gets dibs on snuggling her baby.
Maybe they only want one child or four – it’s not important if this is their first or last baby.
What matters is this time is for them to get to know each other, to not feel rushed and interrupted.
Having visitors in and out can interfere with the bonding process between parents and their new baby.
Mother and baby particularly rely on the release of a hormone called oxytocin, to assist in bonding and breastfeeding. Quietness and privacy help to promote this love and bonding hormone. It’s the same hormone and feeling you felt when you fell in love with your partner. It’s Mother Nature’s ingenious way of ensuring survival of the species – by ensuring a strong bond so you will not part.
While some may think that bond will happen anyway, a sobering fact to remember is 1 in 7 new mothers are said to end up with depression. And having trouble with breastfeeding, rest and bonding can be huge causes of stress for new mothers.
Brand new babies have immature immune systems. Which means, they can catch anything going. It takes a bit of time before the antibodies they’ve acquired from mama during birth and breastfeeding kick in.
You might feel well, but your five year old was up half the night with a fever. Or someone your husband works with went home early with a headache. It’s a good idea to wait until the baby is a little more robust and you have a clean bill of health to avoid passing on any germs.
Hot tip: wash your hands before holding the baby and if you are a smoker, don’t forget to forgo smoking for an hour or two beforehand.
Most new mothers get inundated with visitors at hospital wanting to peek at the baby, yet once she’s home, there is no one to be found!
In hospital she has the staff to help her with the baby, there is no need for cooking or even washing.
Women tend to feel very isolated once they are home on their own with a new baby. For any number of reasons, they can feel scared or worried about getting out.
There is the potential for new mothers to feel depressed and overwhelmed. This is the best time to give her the support she needs, whether that is dropping off some meals, hanging out the washing or doing her shopping.
And you will find you’ve earned plenty of baby snuggles as well!
Remember: mama was a huge part of the birth too. It’s wonderful seeing a brand new baby, but don’t forget mama.