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The Best Friend's Guide to Hospital Visits

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Your best friend (or sister or niece or coworker) just had a baby! Congratulations! Now what? How can you manage your excitement with your desire to do what's best for her and for her new baby?

1. Don't be offended. Yes, this is easier said than done, but try! Some new moms love visitors – they want to show off their beautiful baby and break up the monotony of a long, boring day in the hospital. Other moms need more private time and space alone or with their partner. Often it depends on your friend's personality and also on how easy or difficult their labor was. So if your friend isn't ready to receive visitors, know it truly isn't a slight – it's just not the right time.

2. Assuming your friend does want to see you, set a time to visit. She may want time to clean up a bit, prepare her room, feed the baby, or make sure she isn't showering or napping. Plus all hospitals have their own visiting hours, so don't show up unannounced.

3. Note hospital guidelines. Every hospital or birthing center has their own rules about visiting hours and ages. Some may not allow you to bring your own young children with you.

4. Bring a treat. Flowers and gifts for the baby are a lovely touch, but often what a new mom will appreciate most is some of her favorite non-hospital food. Take-out can be a thrill when you're used to eating all your food from the hospital cafeteria. (Of course, be sure your friend is not on any kind of restricted diet first.)

If your friend has older children, consider bringing them a small treat, too, so they don't feel left out. Their partner may enjoy a snack, as well!

5. Make it snappy! New moms are tired, and constantly being interrupted by nurses, phone calls, or their baby's feeding schedule. In most cases, plan on staying no more than 30 minutes.

6. Speaking of snappy – make sure to ask permission before snapping a photo and sharing it on social media. Some new moms will be delighted, while others might be embarrassed that they aren't looking their best.

7. You'll have lots more time! A hospital visit is a wonderful gesture of love and support, but remember – you'll have plenty of time to catch up with your friend and ogle her adorable new baby in the coming weeks, so don't worry about having to cram it all into one short visit. This is just the beginning!

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