When my sister had her baby, I thought I’d know exactly how to support her. We were both away from our parents and we had each other as a support network. I think it’s safe to say, despite my best intentions, I was a little useless.
I made them a batch of meals which helped but I didn’t really get what she was going through or the barrage of emotions she was feeling. I thought that she was so lucky to have such a beautiful baby. I didn’t truly comprehend the tidal wave that hits you once you become a mum.
Since I’ve had my own children, I know now exactly how that feels and the support that is required to keep you going.
If you’re asking your friend or family member what you can do to help, but not really getting anywhere then here are a few ideas to help her in the first few weeks and months as she adjusts to life as a mum with a newborn.
- Hold The Baby
Come round and hold the baby for an hour while she has a shower or gets something to eat. Better yet, tell her to go to bed and rest and only wake her up if the baby needs feeding.
- Run Errands
Most likely, she will be unable to do much these next few weeks or months. A quick ‘pop down the shops’ is no longer a thing for her and more like a complete logistical nightmare. Offer to buy milk and other essentials, or if you see they are running low on something then tell them you are going to the shops and will pick some up at the same time. If you see an over-flowing washing basket, put a load of laundry on. See a full dishwasher? Empty it.
- Start a Meal Train
There is nothing better than someone else feeding you and your family. I can guarantee, the very last thing a new mum wants, when she is breastfeeding a baby 84 times a day, is to be making everyone’s dinner. She will probably feel uncomfortable asking you outright to cook her food, so organise a meal train amongst friends so food deliveries are spread out over a month or two.
Think of times in-between meals too, especially if she’s breastfeeding. She’ll need oats, bananas, granola bars and full-fat yogurts. If you can hook her up with some breastfeeding biscuits (yes, they’re an actual thing) then that would be amazing.
Breastfeeding mamas are thirsty all of the time, so don’t forget to make her a cuppa or pour her a glass of water before you leave.
- Listen and Let Her Cry
She may feel like she had absolutely no idea what she is doing. The baby just won’t latch on to her breast or is screaming after every bottle. She might be worrying that she isn’t bonding with the baby and showing signs of postpartum depression. She will probably be in pain and worried about going to the toilet in-case everything that was stitched together ‘down there’ will fall apart. Allow her to moan, cry or gush about her new baby. And bring a huge bar of chocolate as she’ll probably want that too.
- Do Something Unexpected
The day after I got out of hospital my close friends excitedly came to visit. I was absolutely shattered and in pain but it was so great to see them as it resembled some normality. The midwife arrived mid-visit and quipped that friend’s without children never know how to help. Well, they proved her wrong as after I reappeared, they had left, but not before cleaning the kitchen (and I don’t mean a quick wipe-down with a wet-wipe). They also left a huge bunch of flowers and a homemade cake. I’ve always remembered that and been forever and utterly grateful for their thoughtfulness.
- Capture Precious Moments
Photos of me and the kids are few and far between. I always seem to be the person behind the camera rather than in front of it. So if you spot a sweet, candid moment between a new mum and her newborn then take a picture.
- Look After The Eldest
If the baby is a second or third child, then offer to take the eldest kid out for a few hours and let mum and dad get to know the new addition to the family.
How do you like to help a new mum? Is there something a friend or a family member did to help you during those early newborn days that meant a lot to you?