New moms, whether she is a first time mom or fourth time mom, whether she is single or has a partner, whether she has given birth or adopted, all have one thing in common; she needs help. However, most new moms don’t ask for help. She may feel that she doesn’t want to burden other people, or feels awkward about asking for specific types of help, or truly feels that she should be able to do it all on their own. However, receiving both practical and emotional support, can make a huge difference for a new mom and her emotional well-being.
Here are a few ways that may help the new mom in your life;
1. Bring her a home cooked meal. Most thoughts about feeding centre around feeding the baby; “Is the baby nursing enough?”, “How do I work this breastpump?”, “Should I mix my own formula, or splurge on ready-to-serve?” Regardless of how mom is feeding her baby, she probably hasn’t given a lot of thought to feeding herself. Bringing a home cooked meal (double the batch, so there’s left-overs!) can feel like love in a casserole dish.
2. Offer to take the baby for a walk so that she can rest. This is a relatively low key-way to take the baby (and siblings if applicable) without a lot of pre-planning. Bundle baby up in a stroller and off you go. This will give mom the rare chance to be home alone and do things like shower, rest, or just sit on the couch and savour the solitude. You’ll also get some exercise, so it’s a win-win for everyone!
3. Ask her how she is feeling. How is she feeling physically? How is she feeling emotionally? Don’t make any assumptions, just let her share her experience. Really listen to her. Often new moms have the unrealistic expectation that they are supposed to bounce back to pre-baby condition in 6 weeks flat or that they are supposed to love every moment of this new experience. Reassure her that it’s totally normal if she is not feeling that way.
4. Share with her if you had struggles in motherhood. New moms can feel very isolated and disconnected from others after the arrival of a baby. They may struggle with baby blues and up to 20% will develop postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression. By sharing your own experience, this can help a new mom feel that she is not alone. If she has concerns about her mood, encourage her to talk to a health professional. Feel free to print and share 10 Things to Know about Postpartum Depression or 10 Things to Know about Postpartum Anxiety if she is experiencing worries or feelings of depression
5. Send a housecleaner. Who can argue with clean toilets, vacuumed floors, and made beds?
6. Bring her groceries, including lots of quick and healthy snacks. Going to the grocery store with a new baby can feeling like scaling Mount Everest in flip-flops. Bring her lots of staples, like milk, bread, eggs and quick and easy snacks.
7. Make a list of “mommy and me” classes available in the community. Connecting with other new moms can have a huge impact on a mom’s well-being. She may not have the time or energy to Google available classes in her community so a ready-made list can make the task of getting out and meeting other moms that much easier.
8. Encourage her to trust her instincts. The world is filled with advice about babies and how to raise them. Unfortunately, that advice is often completely conflicting and contradictory. Co-sleep. Don’t co-sleep. Swaddle. Don’t swaddle. Don’t let them sleep in a bouncy chair. Let them sleep anywhere that they will actually sleep. She may feel completely overwhelmed with the onslaught of advice. Encourage her to do what feels right for her and her baby. Let her know that it’s okay to try things out, change her mind, and that every baby is different. She can do this!
9. Fold the laundry. She will look at those hundreds of beautifully folded washcloths, think of you and smile.
10. Check in on her regularly. The rush of visitors and well-wishers often dies down after the first few weeks. Make sure to maintain contact on a regular basis. Ask her if she prefers notice before dropping by or if it’s okay to pop in. Keep asking how she is feeling. Postpartum depression and anxiety can develop months after having a baby. She may need additional support during various stages of this new transition for her (babies have a way of changing things up once we feel that we’ve finally figured it all out!).
Never underestimate the impact of providing support to a new mom. Take care of her so that can take care of her new child.