A cheery bouquet is a thoughtful gift for a frazzled new mom, but just when to send it depends on several factors and good manners. You want your flowers to please her and give her a lift, but you don't want them to arrive when she is overwhelmed or too busy to care for them. Etiquette means thinking about what is best for others, and gifting new mothers properly is all in the planning.
These days, mothers routinely stay in hospitals overnight or two days at most, and for much of that time they are occupied with delivery, recovery and learning how to tend to their new baby. This is a period packed with activity. While flowers would brighten the room, they are likely to get overlooked in the bustle and be just one more thing to lug home with the new baby. Good manners say to wait.
The First Week
New moms, especially first-timers, are overwhelmed when they get home. They are recovering from the delivery, and it is not good manners to add to everything going on around her with more to take care of, and flowers need care. "Friends and relatives must be aware of a new mother's need to rest, to be cared for, and to bond with her baby," says P.M. Forni, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project, which assesses politeness in our culture (see References).
A small gift for Mom following your shower gift to the baby is thoughtful and welcome. By the second week after delivery, she will likely have more time, so sending flowers then would be welcome. She might also be ready for company. Etiquette says this is a good time to call her. Let her decide when she's up for a visit. You can go when she has more energy and is able to appreciate a bouquet. Just don't expect a long visit or to be fed. Good manners dictate a short stop to drop off the flowers, admire the baby and listen to her latest baby stories.
A new mom will be happy to receive a vase full of flowers--or a flowering plant--on her first Mother's Day. She might also appreciate a visit. Of course, unless you are a close relative or friend, always phone before dropping by to see a new mom. Alternatively, flowers sent to the mother on the baby's first birthday are a thoughtful touch, showing appreciation for her role in the miracle of birth.
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