When a new mom gives birth, she should be adored and loved. For months and months, she has vomited, ached, gained weight and peed every 2 minutes.
If you ask a new mom what she needs, she’ll say, “Oh, I’m good. I think I have everything.” But inside? She doesn’t mean it – even if she thinks she does.
She has sacrificed her body to grow a human being from a group of cells to a fully formed baby. Within moments of birth, she transitions to caring for her baby outside the womb. Make no mistake. A new mom is made of strong stuff.
How to Treat a New Mom Like the Queen She Is
“Let me know if I can do anything.” Let’s not say that. We, as the people around a new mom, should be taking action without forcing her to ask. (Hint: she won’t.)
Order Up Some Sleep
DON’T offer to watch the baby. Instead, ask which night of the week Mom would let you sit with the baby (in her house) so she can rest.
1. Tell her you’ll be over at 8 PM to sit with the baby all night to change diapers and comfort the baby. If Mom wants to pump and leave you milk for baby, perfect. If she wants to wake up and nurse, bring Baby to her when she needs to eat and then get back to your nighttime vigil.
2. Bring a box that includes soft, new jammies and a lavender pillow spray.
3. Get her an iTunes gift card so she can choose a relaxing game or white noise app.
4. If you (and friends or family) can swing it, a weighted blanket can really decrease anxiety and sleeplessness.
DON’T ask if you can bring a meal, bring a meal!
1. Be careful to make or buy food that doesn’t have flavors or spices that will make a breastfed baby gassy. That’s the last thing anyone wants.
2. Put together a basket of foods and drinks that are beneficial to a new nursing mom. Foods with oats in them are known to help milk production, for example, but stay away from chocolate. Too much can make babies fussy.
3. Get together with her other friends and family to schedule a few weeks of meals. Try not to make too much for each meal or they’ll be stuck dealing with leftovers. The idea is that the family has a fresh, homecooked meal every night without any effort on their part.
You can also leave a menu with Mom that allows her to choose meals for the next week or two. It’ll ensure you always bring something the family will actually eat. This is especially important if there are already kids in the house. Picky eater alert!
4. A box filled with a variety of drinks will help make sure the new mom stays hydrated. Juices, Mio, different flavors of tea, and a sweet reusable bottle for her to use to track her fluid intake are perfect.
5. If there are other kids at home, be good to them, too. Bring snacks they’ll love so Mom and Dad don’t have to worry about it. (Try making these peanut butter & jelly bars, or unicorn whoopie pies.)
Self-Care For the New Mom
DON’T forget to care for Mom in ways that have nothing to do with the new baby. Don’t allow her to become invisible.
1. Almost nothing feels as good as a warm shower and for a new mom, it suddenly becomes a luxury. If you can spare a half hour of your day to show up on the regular so she can shower, you’re an angel.
2. Can’t get there for her shower every day? Make a calendar with friends and share the responsibility of “shower duty.”
3. Bring her a gift certificate for a pedicure or a massage and watch the baby while she goes to the appointment.
4. How long has it been since she’s had her hair done? Go in together with friends and pay for a trip to her salon.
5. An audible subscription will allow her to listen to a fantastic book while she’s caring for the baby.
Postpartum depression is real, it’s scary, and frankly, it’s even more awful than it sounds. A new mom needs someone around her who will watch for symptoms and get her to see a doctor. Most often that’s her husband or partner’s job. But sometimes, it takes a fresh set of eyes and ears to spot it.
1. Isolation is so bad for a woman who has recently had a baby. Yes, she needs time to be still with her partner to get to know their new addition. But being alone too much is unhealthy after a birth. Postpartum depression will thrive if there is too much alone time.
While someone she trusts watches the baby, take her to a movie or to get a simple ice cream cone. She may only want to walk around Target, who knows? Be there with her and give her a dose of fresh air and sunshine.
2. Journaling is a tried and true method of dealing with stress. A beautiful new journal and some great pens should be all about her. The baby book is for the baby!
Nothing smells as good or is as precious than a new baby. If they made a candle that smelled like the top of a baby’s head, everyone who walked in my house would swear I was hiding a hospital nursery in the basement.
We are naturally hard-wired to want to love and protect babies. Unfortunately, we’re not really hard-wired to take care of a new mom the way she deserves. I for one am pledging to do a better job for women who give birth.