Having a baby is a wonderful and life-changing event for all new parents. As friends and family of new parents, we can have a really important role in supporting the mum and new dad.
The first visit:
1. Bring a home-cooked meal:
One of the most helpful things you can do for new mums is to bring a home-cooked meal. The new mum is probably feeling sleep-deprived and hungry. A nice warm home-cooked meal is always appreciated!
2. Wait to be invited:
This is so important. Coming home from the hospital, a new mum will be spending her time resting, learning how to breastfeed, bonding with her baby, and probably not in the mood for entertaining. Check with her when is a good time to come. She may have a time of day when the baby is the happiest. She may want to wait until after she has had a chance to nap. She may wish to get dressed and out of her pjs before entertaining guests. Wait for her to tell you the time that is convenient.
3. Do a chore:
For new mums, chores often pile up, and the last thing a new mother wants to do is to spend her day doing housework instead of napping or bonding with her baby. When you visit, help a new mother out by doing a chore for her. Washing is the one job that always seems to pile up and no one enjoys doing. Offer to fold the new mother's washing for her. Offer to do her dishes. Ask her what chore she wants to have done.
4. Get vaccinated:
Babies have very immature immune systems. Diseases like Whooping Cough can be really dangerous for small children. Make sure you get your vaccinations prior to seeing any new baby. If not, expect to be asked to wait until the baby is old enough for their 6-week vaccinations before visiting.
5. Hold the Baby so Mum can shower
Some newborns can not be put down. As soon as they are put down, they scream. This can leave a new mother feeling exhausted and touched out. Perhaps she hasn't been able to shower or wash her hair without having to listen to her baby scream. Hold the baby for her. Let her wash her hair and relax in peace.
6. Ask Mum how she is, not just the Baby
Being a new mum can be really tough. It's a huge adjustment. Many new mothers experience the baby blues a few days after their birth, and many mothers experience postnatal depression.
Ask the mother how she is. If she tells you she isn't doing well, provide her with practical support, encourage her to talk to her partner, family or healthcare provider.
New mothers really appreciate feeling seen and feeling supported. They are much more likely to open up if they are not feeling ok, and more likely to ask for the help that they may need.
What are your best tips for supporting new mothers? Let me know in the comments!
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