Just because a new mom doesn't turn you away doesn't mean your presence is helpful.
We've all been there: Your sister/coworker/best friend's cousin just had a baby and you're so excited to see her and her new little bundle. You rush over to the hospital at your first opportunity, comment on how great she looks and how beautiful the baby is, chat with a few of the other visitors, and then make your way home.
You've done your duty as a friend, and got to snuggle a brand new baby in the process. It's all good, right? Well, sort of depends.
Anyone who has given birth knows that it's a harrowing experience. I mean, it's wonderful, but it also painful, exhausting and straight-up life-changing. After coming through an experience like that, many moms want to spend the first few days doing nothing but adjusting. They wouldn't say that's what they want; they may not even realize that's what they want, but it's true.
Getting used to the idea that they went into the hospital as a singular person and came out as two unique individuals takes more than a few minutes. Not only that, but the new baby is counting on Mom to know what it needs, when it needs it, and how to provide it. Especially for a brand new mom, this can be quite overwhelming.
I remember the day I had my first child. Close family and friends crowded into the hospital room to greet our new little boy. I was so glad to see all of those people, really, but on the first day, I was still in a lot of pain from my stitches and was experiencing after pains that took my breath away. It was like I was still in labor but expected to smile and chat like nothing was wrong. (Why did no one warn me about the after pains?!)
My baby latched on beautifully and nursing wasn't struggle for us but every time he cried for me I felt so awkward trying to take care of him gracefully and without exposing myself. And, of course, each breastfeeding session kicked off another series of after pains that made me feel unsociable, to say the least.
Every mom is different, and I realize that there are plenty of moms out there who want to be surrounded by supportive family and friends even that first day. My point is that there's really no way to know that unless you're inside that mom's brain.
That first time around, I didn't have the confidence or backbone to take my own needs seriously and allow myself some space to adjust for 24 hours. Just because a new mom doesn't turn you away doesn't mean your presence in the hospital room is helpful. And if you do decide to go, just pop in and pop out. Be careful not to overstay your welcome.
Soon, the time will come when she has fully adjusted to this person and desperately needs the company of another adult. At that point, by all means, show up and chat with her for hours. The needs of a new mother can be drastically different than the needs of a mother who has been doing this for a while. And if you love this new mom and new baby, then you will put their needs before your own.