The first few weeks of being a new mom are unlike anything I’ve ever been through in my life. It’s such a mix of highs and lows and it’s such a blessing to have friends and family to help out.
Know a new mom? Here are ten ways to truly help her out in the days and weeks after she gives birth.
Care Package Gifts for baby are great, but gifts for mom (and dad!) are even better. When we brought Felix home from the hospital, my friend Jana had left a little care package on my back porch. It had Mother’s Milk tea, vitamin E cream, little healthy snacks, nail polish and lavendar bath goodies. I didn’t know I’d need/want those things, but they were so wonderful to have at my bedside.
Bring fresh food Don’t get me wrong - comfort food like stew, lasagna and casaroles are so yummy and delicious but too much of a good thing is just… too much. Because most people drop of meals that can be frozen and warmed up when you need them, it’s a great alternative to bring over fresh foods like grapes, veggies and dip, apples, etc. I remember thinking that grapes were just so juicy and refreshing after eating so many hearty meals!
Chores Mom doesn’t need you to hold the baby so she can vacuum or do a load of laundry. She needs you to vacuum and do the laundry so she can hold her baby. Period. I will be forever grateful for our friends who did our laundry when our dryer broke down, folded it up and quietly delivered it to the back door. No popping in, just a text when they had left saying “clean laundry out back!"
Other chores might be to take the trash to the curb, take out the kitty litter, take the dog on a walk, shovel the walk (in the winter), rake leaves (in the fall) or water the plants (in the spring/summer).
Errands You get so much stuff in preparation for your new baby, but somehow, you always need something else. We didn’t plan on using bottles, but ended up needing them when we had to use donor milk for the first week. Thankfully our parents and friends did a lot of Target runs for us in those early days!!
Time your visits and read the room. Is mom dozing off? Are her smiles a little weak and forced? She’s probably too polite to say "get out of my house!!!” I remember being so happy to see people, but also uncomfortable breast feeding in front of anyone other than Adam when we were still figuring it out.
I also remember feeling like Felix would get held during all of his “good” moments and then feeding/changing time would creep up and I’d have to jump in again when I really just wanted to cuddle and spend time with my baby when he wasn’t crying.
Give Her Space Babies are a full time job without a how-to manual and learning how to care for a new little person is confusing and tiring. New parents are working on very little sleep and as much as they’d love to show off their new baby to the people they love the most, they also need some space. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t had any visitors to my hospital room until I’d had at least 24 hours to rest and recover from our cesarean birth. I had such complicated emotions and just wasn’t ready to be on for anyone else (or their cameras). Know what your new mom needs and wants. If she wants company, she’ll ask for it!
All moms, dads and babies are going to have different needs in this very new way of life so just read the room and either jump in (like with those aforementioned chores) or peace out!
Check in Later Most people want to see the baby in the first week or so of his/her arrival, but we really appreciated the help (food, chores, errands) in weeks three and four.
Thanks but No Thanks One of my sorority sisters sent Felix a book with a little card that finished off by saying something along the lines of “I know you’re too polite to skip a thank you note, but I know you’re also too busy for that. Take that time to cuddle your little one instead and I hope to see you both soon!” And you know what? I took her up on it and just sent a text message with the baby holding the book instead. When Felix slept a lot I tried to send out thank you notes as soon as we received anything but I know in the haze of that first month I probably forgot someone. I’d never want another mom to feel guilty about sending a card, so in the future, I’ll use the same idea as my friend used with me.
Outdoor Maintence Surely the last thing on your mind when you’re attempting to adjust to parenthood (and laundry and diapers and messes) is what your yard looks like. Adam’s parents really helped us out by showing up simply to get the yard in check. They mowed the lawn, pulled weeds and prepped the yard for fall. It made it really nice to drive up to the house and not see another big to do on our list.
If you’re a neighbor you could also help by bringing the newspaper or mail up closer to the front door!
Coffee please! Two of the treats that meant the most to me were the time my friend Erica sneaked up to the backdoor with a dozen donuts (we saw her and had her come in, even though she wasn’t planning on making a visit) and when my friend Ashley brought me a much needed latte. Coffee was SUCH a lifesaver and you all know I’m sugar crazy so those donuts were devoured then and there. Little things (and thoughts) really can make a mom’s day.
And finally, for the love of Pete, never, ever, tell a new mom she looks tired. We all know that’s code for you look like hell. Try instead: “I’m happy to hold the baby for you if you’d like an hour to yourself!"
Did your friends and family do something for you that was a lifesaver in your early moments of parenthood? Please share on my facebook page!