DISCLAIMER: I AM NO EXPERT. Simply a woman who recently had a baby :)
I am by no means a ‘motherhood master’, nor am I the 'end all say all'… I’m well aware that not ALL new moms would cosign these pointers, but by and large, I feel that these were the things I valued most my first few weeks home from the hospital. Let me start off by pointing out that it is difficult for a lot of women to ask for help. For some of us (and I say us because this is 100% me), we feel like we have a need to ‘prove’ ourselves as new mothers. Maybe we don’t want to admit we need help, OR we don't know what to ask for.
My daughter is almost six-months-old and the main reason I didn’t like asking for help during Willow’s first few weeks was because I felt like taking help equated to failure. I assumed I was FAILING as a new mom because I couldn’t do it on my own. Truth is, it really does “take a village” and mama does not have to walk this journey alone. THATS WHERE YOU COME IN! So here we go…
1. Lend a Helping Hand
There is MOST CERTAINLY a time to step back and give mama room to heal, cope, etc. BUT/YET/HOWEVER... mummy needs help! “Let me know if you need anything” is something you hear a lot after baby comes. TBH there are days when mama wants friends/family to stop asking if they could help, and wishes that they would just do something to help. Any dishes or bottles in the sink? Wash them. Does it smell like something died in the bedroom? Strip those ratchet sheets off, wash/dry, remake the bed. Run a vacuum. Organize anything that’s messy. Do laundry. Anything! Ask if you can watch little baby while mama takes a nap. Lock her in a bathroom and make her shower (encourage her to shave her legs, it will make her feel better!) or maybe on your way over, text her and say “I’m stopping by your favorite coffee/smoothie spot. Send me your order!” … These are all just ideas. Most importantly, show up and make it not about yourself (your grand moment of meeting the baby or your Instagram pic) and just start helping.
2. Allow Space
Recently, I asked my older sister (Chelsea), “What is the most loving thing someone can do for a new mom?” Immediately she shared with me a testimony back from when she was in the hospital with her first son. She was still trying to recover from delivery and friends/family were already popping in and out to visit. Our sweet pastor’s wife, Karen Conlee, rolled up and noticed that Chelsea was sleeping. Karen didn’t even make her presence known, she didn’t wait for her to wake up so that she could meet the baby, she didn’t make it about herself, she scooted other friends out and said, “Let her sleep.” THAT IS POWERFUL. Mama needs space. As much as she wants to fellowship and be with loved ones, she also craves space. Space creates room for healing. Don’t get me wrong! There is a time to hold babies and hug and love, but there’s also times where the best thing to do is take a step back and give mama space. About 5 days into my postpartum adventure, my friend Magi dropped off a basket of yummy, healthy snacks on my doorstep and just let me know they were there. It was the greatest blessing. Yes, she wanted to meet the baby and say HI but she so graciously respected the space I needed. Be that kind-a-friend and give a new mama space <3!
3. Bring Food
If this list were in order of importance.... this would be need number one. Like NUMBER ONE. We live in a day and age where there are no excuses. Can’t cook? TAKE OUT! Don’t live nearby? UBER FREAKING EATS! And just a heads up, UNLESS mama says “please stay and enjoy this food with us, I need some company” OR “While your dropping off the food come in and meet the baby”…. UNLESS she requests your presence, you drop that meal and RUN! No surprise visits. Also, keep in mind that her body just went through something pretty traumatic. Healthy foods that are high in fiber and protein are going to keep her strong and feeling better. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what to bring, ask someone who might know (her spouse or someone who is close to her).
4. Send a ‘Happy’
By a “happy,” I mean something that is not food. Maybe when you stop by to meet the babe, bring a little goodie bag of toiletries that mama might like or maybe a couple of magazines she might enjoy. One of the sweetest gifts I received when I got home from the hospital were some jammies and a robe my mom scooped up from target. It wasn’t because they were the ULTIMATE lounge-wear...it was a favorite because they were for me. At a time where every ounce of energy and resources are focused on the new little one, receiving a gift like that made me feel like I mattered. Jump on amazon and send her a cute coffee mug or a cozy pair of socks. IF you live nearby, maybe instead of sending her an encouraging text message, take a few moments to write her a word of encouragement and drop it in her mailbox, it will be the greatest part of her day.
5. Offer a Listening Ear
This may sound super basic, but I believe it’s the highest need of a new mom, simply to be heard; to have someone care; to feel understood. If mom wants to vent about breast feeding struggles, how tired she is, her post-baby pot belly, the fact that she’s not only changing diapers but SHE’S WEARING ONE TOO – whatever the gripe… just quietly and affirmingly listen. Don’t try to fix her; don’t offer advice; don’t compare your situation to hers. Just listen. Then ask what you can do to help and do it.
And speaking of that last point…. thanks for listening! Hope these pointers help someone in your sphere of influence.
unfiltered pastor’s wife