Offering help to a new mom is something we all want to do, but sometimes we don’t know exactly what to do. New moms might not even know what to ask for because they are overwhelmed with all of the changes in their household, and we’re culturally conditioned to try to do things on our own and not ask for help.
Crying – Laughing – Stressing – Loving – The emotions that play strongly in the first few days and weeks when you experience the overwhelming joy of bringing a new life in to this world. Babies change the dynamics of our lives so much – from when we sleep (IF we sleep!) to whether or not we have time to get groceries, prepare meals and do laundry.
Simple routines of daily life are turned upside down as you meet the challenge of handling the needs of someone totally dependent on you for everything! One moment you are elated at the gurgling sounds of your newborn, and the next moment you are sobbing uncontrollably for no apparent reason.
How can I help?
Perhaps the MOST welcome question any new mom wants to hear. There are so many decisions to make – all at a time when you are at your most tired and overwhelmed by so much “newness”.
I work with teachers, and it seems this year everyone is pregnant! From a first child to a 2nd or 3rd, new moms could use a hand – but even the best mom’s friend can be clueless on HOW to help. My children are 18 and 21, and I have vague memories of being blissful, yet overwhelmed during those early weeks. The most precious gift I received were homemade meals and a freshly cleaned house, courtesy of my mom. Many of us today live far from family and the automatic support that brings. As friends and co-workers, we want to help but also not interfere with those first few weeks. So, what do you do? Since I’m surrounded by new moms, I asked them what they would love to have help with.
Here’s the list:
1) Mommy break time
Sometimes 15 minutes in the shower by yourself can change your whole attitude, but seems like the biggest indulgence! Offer to sit with a sleeping baby or hold them for your new mom friend while they have some much needed “me” time. Invite older siblings out for a playdate, or offer to watch the baby while mom has some precious time with the older kids.
2) Pre-made Meals
Organize a neighborhood or friends group “Food Train”. One mom said her friends took turns dropping a meal off on her front porch every night, then texted to let her know it was waiting for her so the doorbell or a knock wouldn’t disrupt the new baby’s ( and mom’s!) sleep or feeding schedule. What a beautiful and simple way to help a new mom.
3) Extra help/Errands
Offer to get a new mom’s grocery list while you shop for your own, or let her know to call you when she runs out of something that she desperately needs. It might be convenient for you to pick it up while you are out running errands or on your way home from work. One mom desperately needed shampoo for an older child after a sticky gel was applied to his hair for an MRI – a friend helped that new mom by running out to get it for her immediately. A really simple thing to do, but so important for the mom in that stressful situation!
4) Cleaning/Pet Care
Offer to vacuum, run the dishwasher, or do a load of laundry. Does the dog need to be walked daily? Let me take that over for you for a while. One of my friend’s moms lived far away and couldn’t physically help, so she paid for weekly house cleaning services for the first six weeks – a great idea to help new moms (and all moms!).
5) 4th-trimester kit
One mom reported the best gift she received was a special kit another mom made for her with self-care items – protein bars, Gatorade, nursing pads pre-soaked with witch hazel and frozen, even ‘padsicles”- overnight pads with witch hazel and aloe vera, frozen for those first few painful days at home!
The biggest thing that can help a new mom is to ask – and ask again if they say no at first. Be creative – maybe you see a way to help that they don’t even know they need. Reassure them that they don’t have to do it all themselves. And keep offering to help – even if they say they don’t need it. Let’s celebrate new moms by giving them a helping hand!