Bringing a baby into the world is beautiful, life changing, and exciting, but the newborn phase is particularly exhausting, overwhelming, and isolating. The only way to make this transition period go a little smoother is with the important support from loved ones. Having a baby was never meant to happen without the ‘village’.
Often, well intentioned family and friends don’t really know how to help, and new mums don’t really know what to ask for. Then when someone offers a ‘let me know if you need any help’, nothing happens because neither party knows how to act.
The best way to show support to a new mum, or for a new mumma to ask for help, is to have specific suggestions. This list of 8 small acts of kindness every new mum needs (and you’ll feel pretty great about doing them!) will get you started:
1. Ask her if she needs anything from the supermarket
If you live nearby, text her before you go to the supermarket and ask her if you can pick up anything for her. If she declines or can’t think of anything, pick her up some healthy snacks she can munch on while she feeds her baby or rests on the couch. Some ideas are fruit, protein balls, nuts, seeds, and any yummy little sweet treats as a surprise.
2. Organise a meal train with a group of her loved ones
If no one else has volunteered to organise a meal train for her, you could do it easily via a website such as Meal Train. It’s free, and includes an interactive online calendar in which you invite friends and family to sign up for a date that they agree to deliver a meal. This takes all the guesswork out of it for everyone and the assumption that the recipient already has their meals sorted.
3. Suggest how you could help with an older sibling
Offer to look after the big siblings while she rests or goes to her child health appointments. Suggest picking them up to take them to the park for an hour or two, or for a playdate at your house with your kids. Their mumma will enjoy the time to focus solely on herself and her bub, but will feel great knowing that her older children are getting lots of attention during this huge transition to life with a new baby.
4. Offer to help with the family pet
If your new mumma friend has a pet, offer to take the dog out for a walk, or to pop by to feed the cat and change the kitty litter. If you’re able, you might even offer to take the pet to your home for a week or so to give the mum a chance to recover without an extra dependent to worry about (or feel fur mumma guilt about because they’re not able to show it the same attention as they usually do!).
5. Check in with her regularly
Let her know you’re thinking of her. You could text her often to see how she is, send her funny videos or memes, or Netflix recommendations that are easy watching, feel-good shows she can watch during those middle of the night feeds. Tell her you’re going to drop off a coffee or tea, and just say hello at the door to see how she is rather than going into the house.
6. Choose a household chore to do when you visit
Some mums like someone to hold their baby while they shower or make a meal, but others want to just sit and snuggle their baby. What would always be appreciated is some help around the house, even if they say no to offers. So, you could offer a choice, such as ‘would you like me to hold your baby while you go and do something else, or would you like me to vacuum, fold the laundry, or unload the dishwasher’. Don’t take no for an answer. While you’re there you could also change the water in the vases of flowers and water the plants. They’re the little things that can become too much during the postpartum stage.
7. Tell her that if she’s struggling, she’s not failing
Especially if you’ve been there before yourself, you know that feeling. Reassure her that she won’t love every minute and she doesn’t have to. That if it’s feeling incredibly hard, it’s because it is. It’s not her. That whatever she’s feeling is okay, and that there is plenty of support out there if she needs it. Bring her some comfort by letting her know she’s not alone.
8. Help her to find her support network
If you’re not quite sure what other practical help and support is available, we have several lists that you could send to her, including: