When you’ve read tons of pregnancy books, attended birthing classes, and labored for hours, the last thing you want is something bad happening to your precious newborn. So when visitors don’t practice caution, it’s completely understandable for a new mom to be upset. We talked to a few moms and experts, and here are a few things to keep in mind when celebrating the arrival of a brand new bundle of joy.
1 Do not visit if you are not well. Remember that babies are fragile. “Have the initiative to stay away or not visit [at all] if you are sick or not feeling well so you won’t pass on the virus,” says Anna Lopez-Gabriel, M.D., a pediatrician and certified lactation counselor.
2 Only clean hands can touch the baby. It isn’t enough that you wash your hands. Founder and president of Etiquette de Manille Pauli Antoine adds, “Sanitize your hands and arms in front of the new mom to assure her. It’s not enough to tell her, ‘I just washed my hands.’”
3 Wear clean clothes if you want to carry the baby. “Your hands may be clean, but your clothes may not be,” warns Antoine. Put a clean robe or cloth diaper (muslin cloth) over your chest or shoulder before picking up the baby.
4 Don’t kiss the baby’s face. It isn’t enough to keep your mouth away from the baby’s face, says Porquez. This applies to your hands, too. “It’s better to touch the baby’s feet rather than the cheeks or hands,” she says. “Don’t speak directly in front of the baby’s face, and don’t pinch the cheeks.”
an issue with me. My babies had a hard time latching on and this caused me a lot of stress. I wish other moms could be more sensitive. Not all are successful when it comes to breastfeeding. Express words of encouragement—not of judgment.”
6 Respect the mom’s privacy. “Read her body language to determine if she would like to be photographed,” suggests Antoine. “Delete unflattering shots before she sees them. Ask her which photos can be posted. Or you can say, ‘I’ll send these photos to you through private message.’ Take the cue from there if she would like the photos to be posted online.
7 Don’t dish out insensitive comments or tell horror stories. Ava Ramirez, who gave birth to a preemie advises, “Please be more sensitive with your comments. Spare me stories of your neighbor, cousin’s friend, ka-baryo, or church-mate whose premature baby died. That’s the last thing I’d want to hear.” Antoine agrees, “Moms who have just given birth are emotionally sensitive. Choose your topics and words well. Don’t share horrific stories. Narrating terrifying yaya stories won’t help either. Talk about light topics instead.”
8 Let go of outdated beliefs. What Dr. Lopez-Gabriel finds helpful is explaining to the grandparents the medical reasons why these are no longer applicable. “One old practice is the use of bigkis or the cloth binder that they wrap around the baby’s waist. Another one is not bathing the child when he has a cold, cough, or fever,” she says. “Once it has been explained that such practices may do more harm than good, usually the grandparents cooperate,” Dr. Lopez-Gabriel adds. (On the flip side, if you need to explain to your parents or in-laws why you can’t follow a certain belief, you can always say your pedia said so.)
9 Don’t criticize or give unsolicited advice. It’s tempting to share what you’ve learned, but Antoine says, “Unless what the new mom is doing will cause immediate harm, hold your tongue especially when others are present. And, unless you are her mother or her mother-in-law, do not give unsolicited advice. Most expectant moms read voraciously before giving birth to prepare themselves. More often than not, they manage well by instinct. If you have books, offer to lend them to her instead.”
10 Ask permission from the new parents before doing anything. Dr. Lopez-Gabriel says it’s important to always defer to the new parents. Antoine adds, “New moms are happy, excited, and extremely sensitive. Always be on their side.”
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Smart Parenting magazine. Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.