There are few times in my life when I needed the kind of help I required as a new mom. I had never cared for a newborn before, so to say I was overwhelmed would be a gross understatement. Babies might not need much, but they do need someone to do everything for them. So believe me when I say there are more than a few ways you can help a new mom in her first week of parenting (that she will, without a doubt, be thankful for).
Depending on the mom in question, there might be different tasks you can take upon yourself and all on your own. If the new mom is a co-worker, for example, you could always help take some of her work off her plate. Or if the new mom is a friend and you know she’s sad about missing out on her book club, you could bring her an audio version of the book to listen to when she's breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or changing the millionth baby diaper in the last 24 hours.
There are also some more broad, general suggestions on how to help a new mom trying to recover from childbirth, adjust to life with a newborn, and survive on little-to-no sleep. So if you need help to get started, I suggest reading the following and seeing what resonates most with you and the new mommy in your life.
Send Her Supportive Messages
Motherhood can be so, so incredibly lonely. Why? Well, for a start new moms are exhausted and focused entirely on a small human being who requires all of their time and attention. They’re thinking of their friends, sure, but by the time they consider sending a message, they’re usually interrupted by that small human who, lest you forget, isn't too keen on conversation.
So most moms would love just a small sign of encouragement from a good friend. Even if she doesn't have the time to answer back, know that a text messages or thoughtful email means the world.
Grocery Shop For Her
Is there a chance a new mom won't take you up on your offer? Sure. But there's also a chance she will allow you to shop for her, especially if you'er already at the store. If you have the time and the means, picking up a few things so she doesn't have to venture outside is a godsend.
Only Visit When Invited
Let the new mom lead when it comes to postpartum visits. If she says she wants to spend time with her family, and her family only, don't take it personal. If she is only available on certain times at certain days, respect that. If she asks you to wash your hands, use sanitizer, and take off your shoes, just do it. And please, whatever you do, keep your visit short and sweet. If she continues to ask you to stay, that’s one thing, but a 30 minute visit will likely do the job.
Offer To Take Some Pictures
If you have a nice camera, bring it with you on your visit. If all you have is a phone, maybe play around with some filters. Either way, and although the new mom in your life might not feel at her best, she will relish these photos later.
Some moms will be too embarrassed to ask for this kind of help. That said, if you’re around and notice dishes in the sink, excuse yourself to the restroom and wash a few anyway. If you see her laundry piling up, offer to at least help start it while you’re already there. She’ll be too tired to argue, anyway.
Volunteer To Watch The Baby Or Any Pets
This is especially important if the new mom in your life has older kids. Take them out to the park or aquarium or museum or anything that shows the older sibling some attention and assuages the new mom's guilt. Same goes for pets! Take them on walks or give them some affection.
Make Food Happen
New moms are going to need food available to them as quickly and easily and as often as possible. Easy to microwave meals are best, followed by ones that are good for a quick pop in the oven. Snacks are always good, too, of course. If she’s breastfeeding, maybe offer up some lactation cookies or other treats of that nature. It won’t go to waste.
Tell Her About What’s Going On In The Rest Of The World
How’s your job? How’s your group of friends? Is Mischa really breaking up with Juan? Did Lulu finally get that raise? What is happening on the outside? New moms want all the gossip, and then pepper in some celebrity news for good measure.
Bring Something For The Baby
New moms are always happy to get more stuff for the baby. When you’re out of ideas, please know that diapers are always appreciated. And if you want to go the extra mile, maybe bring her other kids a book or toy so they aren’t feeling terribly left out.
Keep Your Advice & Opinions To Yourself
The last thing a new mom (or any mom) needs is more unsolicited advice or random bits of mom-shaming. We get it constantly from all sides and angles and, well, it's exhausting. So be cool and don’t offer your thoughts on her breastfeeding or bottle-feeding methods, her child’s sleep schedule, what she’s eating, her current hygiene situation, or anything else.
Answer All Her Questions
That said, and especially if you yourself are a mom, she may actually have questions for you. She might want to know if it gets any easier or if her baby will ever sleep through the night. Try and use your answers to make sure she feels comfortable and supported and informed... all at once. You got this! Just remind her that she does, too.
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.