Helping a new mum sounds easy enough, right? But when it comes down to it, mums can struggle to ask for help with what they’d really like help with.
Some mums just want to sit on the couch staring adoringly into their beautiful baby’s eyes while people bring them food or clean the house for them. Other mums can’t wait to handball the baby off so they can experience the novelty of having two available hands (crazy talk).
Heck, a mum’s needs can change day-to-day and even hour-to-hour. One day they may have a hankering for coffee and a chat, the next they might really need a few hours of sleep. So where do you even begin with offering useful assistance?
First, instead of asking if she needs help (because often the response will be no), ask her specifically what she’dlike you to help with. Maybe she can give you a few tasks. But if your mama friend can’t communicate what she needs, probably just start doing stuff (without imposing yourself, of course). Think about what you’d like someone to do for you.
Here are a few ways to help your new mama friend out if you’re stuck for ideas.
Help her take care of herself
1. Help her get some sleep
Sleep. Is. Everything. And in the early days, it’s so rare.
Visiting her house for a few hours and letting the mama have a nap could be utterly life-changing! She could even set you up with a bottle of breastmilk or formula so you can handle a feed while she prolongs her rest.
Mums can feel anxious doing this, but remind her that getting sleep is vital. It will help her feel emotionally and physically refreshed, so she can be a better mum.
2. Help her get some action (or at the very least, some alone time with her partner)
Relationships are tough work when a baby arrives. A few hours of alone time for the parents can work wonders, though! A date night can help them reconnect, unwind a little, and begin to process this significant life change together. It will actually give them a chance to look into each other’s eyes and communicate.
Oh… and consider giving the mum and her partner a few hours in the late evening for a bit of… you know, sumthin’ sumthin’. Sex is SO hard to squeeze in between feeds, naps and housework. (And for the love of God, can SOMEONE please explain why babies always, without fail, have to wake up crying RIGHT at the moment of truth?!)
3. Bring her presents
Acts of self care are few and far between for new mums. While almost every visitor will bring some sort of cute onesie, they rarely think about bringing the mum something!
A lovely nightie, candle, body lotion or face mask would make for a super thoughtful gift for your mum friend.
4. Book her a massage or physio session
Not only is a new mama’s body recovering from literally pushing a human out of them, it’s adjusting to holding said human for 23 hours of the day. This understandably wreaks havoc on her poor body! Combined with a lack of sleep, she’s likely to have tight shoulders, an aching back and sore muscles all over her body. Yeah, it’s hell.
A massage or visit to the physio could relieve her pain and put a pep back in her step. Just book her in, you kind and wonderful person.
Help her get the house in order
5. Clean something
Swinging by for a quick visit? Cool! Clean something while you’re there. Some dishes, a load of washing, the bathroom, etc. Anything.
That being said, some perfectionist mamas (*cough* me *cough*) may be mortified by you touching their mess, so try to ascertain whether they’d prefer for you to hold the baby while they do some cleaning.
P.S. A cleaning service would be a great gift for a new mum.
6. Bring. All. The. Food.
Whether you come over with coffee and breakfast, drop off a giant lasagne, pop some meals into the freezer, or organise a meal delivery service, the mama will LOVE you for it.
She’s got her hands full, and will barely have time for a cup of tea let alone cooking a nutritious meal. And recovering mums definitely need plenty of good food.
7. Help out with pets
Fur babies can become a wee bit neglected when an actual baby arrives. It can be hard to find time to walk the dogs or change the guinea pig’s litter tray, so offer to take care of it for your mama friend.
8. Bring baby supplies
There never seems to be enough wipes or nappies when there’s a newborn around. (It’s like they absorb them or something.) Bring some supplies over when visiting a new mum. You don’t even need to make a big song and dance about it – just casually leave them in the nursery. They WILL be utilised at some point.
Or here’s a cool idea: My paediatric nurse friend brought over a baby first aid kit stocked with baby panadol, Infacol, Sudocream and more. Things I didn’t think about buying until I really needed them. It was so handy!
Make her feel awesome
9. Encourage her and give her compliments
If there’s one thing all new mums need, it’s encouragement.
Tell her she’s doing great, that she looks beautiful, that her baby seems so happy and healthy. She may feel like she has no idea what she’s doing, so that bit of validation could turn her day around.
10. Provide conversation
New mums can lose touch with what’s going on outside their newborn bubble. A real, adult conversation may help them feel normal, like themselves, even just for a moment!
If you’re a mum too, try not to give advice unless you’re asked for it. Instead, ask her about how she’s doing and what she’s experiencing. Ask her about things other than the baby, too.
11. Give her space and permission
Let the new mum know that she’s allowed to work things out. Tell her that it’s okay to feel lost and unsure, and to take her time finding her feet as a mother.
When my son was a newborn I was baffled when people would ask me what to do. ME! Hello! I have as much of an idea of what to do as you do!
It’s scary being the person in charge, the one that people look to for direction. Just give the mama space to work things out. Let her decide how she wants to parent, and remind her that she’s doing a great job.
12. Send her photos of her with the baby
People so often visit the new baby and take pictures of themselves with the little cutie. But you know who probably doesn’t have pictures with the baby? Its mum!
If you get the opportunity, take some photos of the mum with her baby and send them to her later. Seeing pictures of herself with her baby can be so encouraging and validating, providing proof that she’s truly a wonderful mama.
Do you have any other good suggestions to add to this list? Comment below!