Being a new mom is exciting and magical. It’s a time of connection and bonding. It’s a time of firsts. But being a new mom is also exhausting and overwhelming. Life as you know it gets turned upside down and you are left to find your ground. It’s the perfect storm of fluctuating hormones, serious lack of sleep, and a clumsy, fake it ’til you make it, balancing act of trying to find your “new normal.” You learn as you go. You question if you are doing it “right.” You give every ounce of yourself to that tiny little being who relies on you for his or her every need. It’s beautiful. It’s humbling. It’s love. It’s exhausting.
So what happens after that baby is born? Friends and family come to meet and welcome the little one. There are gifts for the baby, cards, balloons, warm hugs, kisses and “Congratulations.” It’s a time of celebration. But there is something of great importance that is missing here and that is mothering the mama. Let’s not forget her. Let’s not forget the woman who is giving more of herself than she ever thought she could give. Her. Let us not forget her. This amazing, yet delicate time is when mom needs her “village.” This is the time when supporting her both physically and emotionally can make all the difference.
So, how can you help a new mom within those first few months – heck, within those first six or even twelve months? Here are 6 ways how…
1. A Thoughtful Gesture
Visitors often come bearing gifts for the baby – adorable clothes, toys, embroidered blankets. All of these gifts are greatly appreciated and cherished. But why not change it up and bring over a little something for mom? Something as simple as a heartfelt card, her favorite magazine, flowers, or hand cream can make mom feel super special and is sure to put a smile on her face.
2. Bring Over Food
Preparing and cooking a meal can be challenging with an infant. By the time she’s ready to take that first bite the baby starts crying, or throws up, or has a massive blow-out, and that food….yeah, it sits there until she remembers it an hour later when her stomach grumbles. So bring her food, whether it’s for her or for the whole family. It can be a home cooked meal or it can be a sandwich from the drive thru. Either way it is food to keep her going. Coffee or dessert is an added bonus!
3. Watch the Baby (or Older Children)
Come over and watch the baby. Give mom a break for 20 minutes or an hour. Having the baby cared for allows mom to take some time for her—whether it’s a warm shower, a nap, or sitting down without a baby in her arms, it will feel like a glorious vacation. Babies aren’t your thing? Well, if mom has older children, you can offer to help with them. Take them outside or to the park. Engage them in an activity. Every little bit helps. And believe me, it goes a long way.
4. Help Her Out
If you see there is something you can do for her, just do it. If you use a cup while you are over her house put it in the dishwasher or wash it in the sink. Don’t make more of a mess for her to clean. If there is a sink of dishes perhaps you can wash them for her. Don’t ask. Just do it. Because in all honesty, if you ask, she probably isn’t going to say, “Yes, please do my dishes.” But the fact is she secretly would love the help. See if you can bring out the trash or pick up something she needs from the store. Maybe you can walk the dog. There are so many little things you can do to help her out.
5. Be Present Emotionally/Encourage Her
Look her in the eye. Ask her how she is doing. Let her vent. Listen. Don’t judge. You don’t have to have all the answers. Just let her know that this is tough and that she is doing a great job. Give her a hug. Shoot her a text, write her a message or give her a call. She might not answer, but it’s nice for her to know that others are thinking of her.
6. Schedule Things with Her
Even though she is technically never alone, being a new mom can feel isolating. Take initiative on coordinating a time to get together. Give her a couple options to see what would work best for her. It might be a playdate. It might be some girl time out of the house. Either way, Mama needs time to re-charge, have fun and connect socially.
Being a new mom is challenging, and trying, and exhausting. So, let’s not forget her. Let’s not forget to mother the mama. The woman who is giving more of herself than she ever thought she could give. She needs us. And it can make all the difference.