Have you ever had an AH-HA! Moment? Maybe you were sitting in a lecture in college, and the professor was droning on and on and on, but then some phrase they said clicked in your brain. Or you were doodeling in your notebook in Chemistry while the teacher was going over questions from a test, and then AH-HA! something made sense (though it was a bit too late to get the points back on your test). I had one of those recently at church, when our pastor was talking about sharing our gifts with others and she said that we shouldn’t be giving others our left-overs, or the excess of our things, but instead should give from the heart of what our gifts are.
Well, it is with that in mind I got to thinking about what my gifts were, and how I could share them with others. I sing on occasion, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to run door to door singing March Carols until my neighbors grow tired of me. I’m already working on crocheted hats for Rosie’s Cosies, so I’m at least sharing that gift a bit. Finally, I got thinking about motherhood. Now, I don’t consider myself a pro (remember, we gotta be real in Bloggieland), but because I’ve had a bit of experience under my belt now, I at least can put myself in the shoes of New Moms and know where they may be struggling. So I got to thinking that maybe I could use this little writing corner of mine to share what I’ve learned about being a New Mom, and that could help others who may be clueless about how to help the new moms with whom they come into contact. Are you still with me out there? I hope so!
So it is with these thoughts of mine, that I want to share with you a handful of tips to support new moms. Not all moms are the same – in fact, none of them are the same – so each one will react differently. But the big thing to remember is to show them LOVE, and tell them they’re doing a great job, no matter how tough it gets. Let’s begin…
FIVE WAYS TO SUPPORT NEW MOMS
1. The best thing you can bring them is FOOD. Yes, adorable outfits are grand, and all babies need clothing and diapers and a whole lotta stuff these days, but don’t forget that a New Mom is not only low on sleep, but she’s probably low on time to fix a proper meal. If she’s nursing, or even just recovering from birth, chances are she’ll have a good appetite. Some meals I’ve brought (and received!) that you can try:
- Beef, Cheese, or Chicken Enchiladas (prepare in a reusable aluminum baking pan, but wait to bake it until you arrive, or leave instructions for putting in the oven later if you’re not sticking around to eat); don’t forget chips, sour cream, and salsa.
- Soup (Cheesy Vegetable, Corn Chowder, Chili,…) and pick up a loaf of fancy bread to go with it.
- Not into cooking? Pick something up from their favorite place (I like to suggest Panera – usually they have a good variety and seems semi-healthy).
- Don’t forget about drinks – smoothies, juices, lattes (be sure to specify decaf or regular), shakes, etc. New Moms need to stay hydrated!
2. Give them options. Beginning with the meal, suggest a few things that you could bring. This will help you determine if there are foods you should avoid, or if maybe they have some dietary restrictions (I know a fair number of moms that had to go dairy free while nursing because baby reacted poorly when mom drank milk or ate cheese). If you dictate everything, it doesn’t give them much wiggle room to let you know what sounds good to eat, if they have dietary limitations, or if maybe they aren’t up for visitors. Giving them options and letting them know you are flexible around what works for them helps you gauge if meeting up works for them.
3. Encourage them. This is kind of a no brainer, but definitely still needs to be listed here. New Moms are a big ball of emotional and physical ups and downs at this point, and they need to know they’re doing a great job. They’re low on sleep, high on hormones, and now have a little creature that is only in its first few moments of life and are trying to figure out the basics (eating, sleeping, and pooping), that we take for granted. Help them focus in on little victories, ask them if they could use help with anything, but understand they may just need a few words of encouragement, not their whole house cleaned.
4. Stay away from No-No’s and Assumptions. Don’t EVER EVER EVER tell a New Mom if she looks tired, worn out, distraught, weepy, over-weight, under-weight, or discuss anything negative about her physical appearance. New Moms have been through a lot, so keep it positive, folks! They have just given birth to a tiny miracle, and they need to know how amazing that is!
When looking for things to talk about, I’ve found it’s best to aim for open-ended questions and avoid yes/no questions. Questions that are formed by assumptions drive me CRAZY. For example, I recommend avoiding “Is the baby sleeping through the night?”, as it assumes the baby is sleeping through the night and if the baby isn’t, well that makes mom feel crappy. Instead, try “How is the baby sleeping? How are you sleeping?”, and it gives New Mom a chance to talk about it, instead of confirm or deny your assumption. Same thing with asking them if they need help: Try to avoid, “Can I clean your house? Do your dishes?” as this tells them that their house is a disaster, and clean dishes are more important than sleep. Instead you can try, “How can I help you get some rest? Is there any little thing I can do to help?”
5. Ask them what works for them. Yes, you want to come visit, but really the visit is all about mom and baby, so be sure to keep them at the focus. When asking them when it works to meet up, be sure to clarify the following:
- Do they have any food allergies or sensitivities?
- Do they want visitors with the meal, or would they prefer the food be dropped off and a quick greeting to the baby?
- If their plans change, it’s okay to schedule another time.
If she’s a nursing mom, and mentions ANY of these phrases (no matter how blunt or casual), it means she wants you to leave so she can nurse privately:
- “Oh, I think the baby is hungry”
- “It’s been a little while since the baby ate”
- “It’s okay baby, you can eat soon”
- Any other mention of the baby being hungry, getting to eat soon, or milk in general
Nursing is another entirely new concept for the New Mom, so they may not know how to kick you out nicely, and may not be comfortable with you being around when feeding time needs to happen. Some moms are totally fine with others being around, but that’s not your decision to make. Remember, it’s all about THEM!
And now, a little note for the amazing people that supported and encouraged me: Thank you! We had GREAT people that were there for all of us when Quincy was first born. With Baby HG2 on his or her way, I know we still have a great support system of friends and family to lean on, so that puts my mind at ease. These five points that I’ve listed are in no way reflective of the visitors that we’ve had during the Newborn/New Mom stage, but instead an affirmation of the great things that others did for us. If you’re a New Mom out there, know that you’re not alone, and you are doing an AMAZING job!
Cheers to New Moms,