So your friend has announced that after gracing the world with one adorable child, she's about to double down. You love your friend and, moreover, you're an awesome person, so you ask yourself, "What is something nice you can do for a second-time mom?" Well, as the proud maker of two artisanal, bespoke children, I can tell you some of the things I appreciated (or would have appreciated) my second time around. Because it wasn't my first rodeo, but a second rodeo is still only, like, your second one. And rodeos are always kind of challenging. I mean, that's sort of the point, no?
Now I know that most of you reading this are eager to know what you can do, but I know there may be some among you who are starting to get huffy at the idea that any one person is under any particular obligation to do anything for their pregnant friend just because they chose to be pregnant. Let me be clear: you aren't. OK? No one is glaring at you waiting you to offer your time, energy, or physical labor to anyone. That said, it's really nice to help out others when you can. It's called "being a friend." Hopefully your currently preggo friend has helped you when you've needed it, too.
So now that her hour (or, 40 weeks) of need has arrived, how can you help her through this exhausting, comfortable, overwhelming experience? Well, here are just a few ideas to get you started, you kind do-gooder you.
Be Excited For Her
Most moms will tell you that the public reactions to a first and second pregnancy are vastly different. I guess here is something to say about your first being your first and, well, novelty goes a long way. But sometimes it can be a little disheartening when people reacted to your first pregnancy with hour-long screams and impromptu fireworks displays, and to your second pregnancy with a, "Well it's about time you gave that kid a sibling!" And once they've seen the Incredible Growing Belly Trick the first time they're not as interested in following it again. It's understandable (and in some ways a relief, because the constant and intrusive "check-ins" the first time around can get overwhelming and/or annoying), but still, mom guilt can be strong, and I know a lot of moms (myself included) sometimes felt guilty that a second baby wasn't going to be greeted as excitedly as the first.
So you don't have to rent a plane to sky write congratulatory messages or anything, but be sure to muster up as much enthusiasm as you did when she had her first.
Babysit Her Oldest So She Can Have A Night/Day Out
When you're pregnant with your first, you can schedule some fun times before your little one makes their grand entrance and life becomes a little bit harder. A night out with your partner, a trip to your favorite museum, hanging out with your friends, maybe even a little vacation, or perhaps some extra naps.
The arrival of a second child doesn't make any of these outings/trips less desirable, but it makes them less feasible. So if you could step up to the plate and watch the older child so mom can get some time to herself to prepare for her second, that would be fantastic.
Make Her Freezer Meals
Seriously, the greatest thing anyone can do for a new mom is to bring her food. She does not have the time, energy, or even ability to cook her own meals for a while, so having a few dinners ready to go is going to be a god-send. Be that god. You don't even need to pack her freezer with a maternity's leave's supply of food! Even one dinner is a help!
Agree To Babysit The New Baby So She Can Have A Day Out With Oldest
Remember the mom guilt I mentioned earlier? It's often super strong when it comes to anything having to do with the oldest child after the new one comes. Your friend will feel weird when she transitions from focusing all her time on her oldest child to having to divide her attention and emotional resources between two. So she might feel, at some point, that she'd like to have one-on-one time with her older baby, both for them and for her.
Chances are it can't be a particularly long outing (especially if the mama in question is breastfeeding), so your commitment need not be anything extensive, but it will be sincerely appreciated. Knowing ahead of time that she will have the ability to spend quality time with her oldest will take a lot of worry off her plate.
Come Hang Out & Help Her Prepare
Preparing for a new baby is a damn process, and a second baby is really no different, even though you probably have most of the necessary equipment. Now everything has to come out of storage and be washed, assessed for suitability, stored, set-up, re-built... and all this with another kid to watch. If you have ever tried to accomplish a chore with a child present, I don't have to tell you how difficult this is. If you haven't, imagine sweeping your front porch in the middle of a tornado.
If you could take some time to lend a hand, the task becomes far more manageable.
Let Her Vent
A second baby is a lot to wrap your head around, sometimes even more so than a first baby, because the second time around you know what you're in for. Give your friend space to feel all her feelings, including the ones where she wonders what she got herself into and how she's going to handle this, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, etc. You don't have to have all the answers (or, really, any): your sympathetic ear will be enough.
Gift Her Diapers
With an infant, her life will be an endless barrage of diapers for a while. It may already be if her oldest isn't potty trained yet. Having a box of diapers on hand saves her a trip to the store and will always come in handy.
(If your friend uses cloth diapers, send baby wipes. She might even be someone who uses disposables on occasion, too.)
Bring A Personalized Item For The New Baby
This little one will be getting a lot of second-hand stuff (#SecondKidSyndrome #MomGuilt) so it's nice to have a couple things that are just for them. A cute outfit, a special piece of artwork for the nursery, a pretty little blanket. Certainly you're under no obligation to give a gift, but they're still nice to receive.
Be On Call For When It's Go Time
Certainly this is a big favor, usually reserved for the closest of friends and family or, in a tough situation, the only person a second-time mom has nearby. With a first baby you just go to the hospital (or call your midwife). With a second child you need to arrange for super last-minute child care so that you can go deliver. If you are up to this spur-of-the moment task, you are a legit angel.
Ask How *She's* Doing
She's not just a sentient incubator! She's a mom, but moms, like all humans, are complex, emotional creatures with thoughts and feelings of their own outside of their role as "mother" and "pregnant woman." So check in with your friend as a friend. Because sometimes the greatest gift of all is the gift of knowing you are seen.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.