Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

New Mothers Deserve Break From Well-Meaning Visitors

DEAR ABBY: I am concerned about the mothers who are released so quickly from the hospital after childbirth -- often as soon as 24 hours after delivery.

My daughter just had her first baby, and after a difficult delivery and complications, they sent her home after three days. Once she was home, she had to tend her infant, breast-feed every two hours, take a sitz bath every four hours and sleep when possible. Well-meaning friends and relatives who wanted to see the baby rang her phone and doorbell constantly.

When I had my babies 20 years ago, we had four- or five-day hospital stays, and these stays provided something we don't have today -- controlled visiting hours. Guests could come, see the baby, give you a few hugs and go home. Now, the new mom has to answer the door and telephone and entertain people who were not considerate enough to phone and ask if Mom wanted company.

Some friends and relatives were more considerate. They called ahead, brought food, ran errands, and sent notes and gifts.

The first couple of weeks are usually hectic for new moms, so Abby, please tell these well-meaning people to never "drop in" to see the new baby. Call ahead to see how things are going, and if you set up a time for a visit, please be on time. -- CONCERNED GRANDMOTHER

DEAR GRANDMOTHER: Thank you for a valuable letter. And may I add when you visit a new mother, please don't stay too long. Some folks feel that because they had to drive an hour there and an hour back, they are entitled to stay for at least three hours.