We've all been on both sides of the new mom thing. Whether we were a newbie ourselves, or the one dying to get over there to congratulate mama and snuggle new babe, there is definitely a right way to make it through the first few months with a newborn. This post is all about things that new moms want their besties to know before making plans, coming over, or even giving advice. Any of this sound familiar?
We might not want to talk about labor. Depending on how babe made their appearance, the last thing you want to do is rehash the last 72 hours in graphic detail while you're currently sitting on a donut pillow and have breastmilk leaking through your shirt. Do your best to wait for mama to offer up some details or hints that she wants to share her story. Until then, just be considerate and not ask if the epidural hurt, or if she tore. Just...No.
Holding the baby isn't the only thing she needs help with. Yes, it is so tempting to invite yourself over to give mom a "break" while you hold the baby. But in reality, you just end up holding a silent sleeping baby for two hours while catching up, then the baby starts crying and mama has to nurse again. If you really want to get a little baby time, come over and offer to hold the baby while mama takes a nap or shower. Be a sweet friend and realize that mama has hardly had more than two hours of consecutive sleep since this little bundle showed up, and you being there might not make her life much easier.
Offering to help only goes so far. In reality, all a new mom really wants is a little time to herself, a happy, well-fed baby, and a clean house. If you really do want to help your new mama friends, bring over some easy-to-grab snacks for her while she's nursing, or some meals that hubby can pop in the freezer for everyone once they're ready to eat. If you do end up coming over, hop up and put in a load of laundry or do some dishes. The mama may look embarrassed, but real talk, she is not going to hate you (or herself) for letting you help out.
She probably has no idea what she's doing at 2 pm tomorrow, so it's hard for her to say she would love for you to come over. It could be that at precisely 1:58 p.m. her new little angel starts wailing and demanding sustenance, and they have another tear-filled nursing session. She wants you to know she's not a flake, and if she calls you last minute to cancel she isn't intentionally flaking, she's just trying her best to make sure her little one stays happy without losing her mind. Be willing to a text a couple hours later saying now is a great time to come over.
If she wants advice on how to get her little cutie to sleep through the night, then she will probably ask for it. If not, try your best not to shove mama advice down her very sensitive throat. She already feels like she is doing everything wrong, and having another newish (or not) mama over offering her lots of tips and advice only makes her feel like she is the only one who didn't know that baby's sometimes don't poop everyday, and DUH, just use a suppository (uh thanks, but no thanks). Do your best to hear her out, and wait for her to say something like, "Did that ever happen to you?" or "is that normal?" That way you know she's ready and willing for some mama info!
Daddy has an opinion too. It's not just the mamas who have an opinion about who comes over and what the baby needs to do and when. When I had my little man, he was barely a week old, my own mom was there to help out with cleaning and cooking and personal hygiene, and unfortunately, that meant all of my aunts and uncles wanted to come over and catch up...Big problem there was that my husband was not really interested in having a whole family full of visitors over to hold the baby, and stay late, just when we are trying to get our life in order. He wasn't down for that. And he has a right to say, "No thanks! Maybe another time."
Offering to get groceries would be like, the nicest thing you have ever done in your life. Stop by and pick up mama's card/cash and list, and return with bags full of joy. If you bring her a bottle of Coke and a Twix, she will probably start crying but don't worry. She's seriously overjoyed. Same thing goes for putting gas in the car, dropping off a rent check, or picking up batteries from the hardware store. You are an angel for this.
She probably just wants to talk about TV shows she's been watching on DVR, because she's been at home for a couple of weeks, and up at odd hours feeding the little burrito bundle. Be okay to make small talk, and stick to neutral safe zones until you know whether or not mama is willing to get a little deeper. Also, if you're a family member of a family member and you want to talk about how many stitches I got, I will politely ask you to exit my home.
She may wanna get out for a minute, or she may need to go to the doctor, or she may just want to go to the gym. Point is...she would love it if you would be willing to sit with little one for an hour or two while she goes out and has a little time doing something that she used to do before she became an unwashed nursing machine. If you're okay not seeing mama, but sitting and getting a good dose of new baby smell, let mama know with a quick text. If she's smart, she'll take you up on the offer.
Hubbys should know that mamas are doing their best to make sure you are loved as much as little babe is. It's tough to show it when you're already giving up so much of yourself to the newborn. We want to make sure that there is still a spark, and still an attraction, and still the love that there was before baby, but it's going to take a little bit of time. Trust us, this little funk will pass and we'll be back to date night in no time!
Keep your visits short and sweet! She loves to see you! She has missed you! She does want to talk to someone who can answer with more than spitting up! But she really can't handle having someone over all day when she was pretty much planning on being topless until she and babe get this whole breastfeeding thing down. Come over for a quick catch up, a sniff of the new baby smell, and an offer to help, then leave mama to her work.
Truth is mama is only going to be giving you half the story. If she says, "Yeah, the nursing thing is a real struggle," what she means is, "I cry every time my baby needs to eat, because I have no idea how to feed him correctly, plus my nipples feel like they're about to fall off." Things are never as great as they seem when you stop by, so be forgiving. Be understanding with her, and let her know you're always there to listen.
Postpartum depression is absolutely real, and it doesn't just mean there's a few tears every now and then. It means sometimes it's hard to get out of bed in the morning. It means sometimes they aren't loving having to wake up in the middle of the night to nurse baby. It means that they haven't showered in several days, are getting down on themselves, and don't feel like they can do this on their own. If you have opinions about what they should do to get over it, keep it to yourself. It's something they will work through between themselves, their hubs, and their doctor. Show them some love.
You are still important to them! New mamas want you to know that they miss seeing you and hanging out like you used to. That they miss having the all-nighters where you could just eat caramel corn and watch Gossip Girl. Remember that you're still besties and that your relationship is just going to change a little bit! Give each other a little time to get used to the new arrival, and I promise you'll be back to your old selves in no time.
She doesn't actually want to talk about how much weight she's lost since babe was born. Because, to be honest, she has lost the weight of her baby, and probably gained weight trying to keep her milk supply up, and she won't ever want to talk about her weight ever again. Try your best to be considerate of her feelings. If you wouldn't ask the average person how much they weigh, the last thing you want to do is ask an emotional wreck of a new mother about it.
So try and be careful with your friend's new feelings, and help out as much as you can. And don't forget, there's a new little babe to cuddle!