When Your Friend Has A Baby

02/05/2017 14:38 BST | Updated 02/05/2017 14:38 BST

There's a lot of advice out there telling you what to do when your friend has a new baby. There are memes, infographics and blog posts all devoted to the topic. They pretty much all say the same thing - stay away, keep your visit short, give the family space, don't turn up unless you're prepared to clean for them. The message is very clear, new parents are always overwhelmed with dozens of people wanting to meet the baby and the best thing you can do is to hang back and leave them alone. Which, unfortunately, is completely untrue.

Of course there are people who have big extended families nearby or a very large group of friends who do feel that way but I have worked with a lot of new mums, been there every day for the first few weeks and I can tell you that the number with lots of visitors was maybe 25%. The rest had one or two at most.

When you have a baby your whole life changes, it's overwhelming and exhausting and amazing all at once. Some people want to retreat and process that privately but a lot of people want to know that they aren't on their own, that their friends and wider family still care for them and are there for them to celebrate and support them. Mamas want to feel loved, and to feel that their baby is loved.

I have spoken to mums who felt abandoned in hospital when nobody visited especially if they had to stay in for a few days, mums who felt isolated and alone even though they had wonderful husbands and partners. Who craved a friendly face more than anything. Yet they can't admit it. When you are "meant" to be overrun with visitors you can hardly admit to not receiving a single bunch of flowers. In that hormone storm it would feel like telling the world you're unlovable, or perhaps your baby is unlovable, and who wants to admit to that!

Please, if your friend has a new baby, send her a message. Texts are great because she doesn't have to answer right away if she's busy and there's no ringing phone to wake the baby. Say congratulations (even though you've already said it on social media) and ask how she is. Tell her that you would love to meet the baby and ask her to let you know when she feels ready for visitors, that way she can easily put you off if she prefers but can invite you round tomorrow if she's craving company. If you can't visit because you're ill, or live a long way away or whatever then still make contact. Explain why you can't visit and if possible put something in the diary for a few weeks or months time.

Just don't leave her feeling like nobody cares.