What is the Best Way to Support a New Mama?
It can be tough to know how to help a mama with a newborn because there are so many things we want to do to make their life easier! Whether you've got a mama in your life who just had her first babe or her fourth, there are things we can do to support her and make her feel loved, but the question is 'what's the best way to do that?'
Since new mamas are frazzled, tired, recovering, tired, overwhelmed, and tired they may not always be the ones to reach out and ask for help when they need it. It can make the life of a new mama really isolating and a lot tougher. So I put together a little list of things I think we should do as friends to new mamas that will help support them and their new little babe!
Mamas with newborns are in this weird time warp where days and nights merge together. They're not paying attention to days on the calendar except to make sure they're at their little's 2-week check-up, and they only have their phone out to track what boob their baby last nursed on. Long story short, they have no concept of when would be a "good time" and they can't make "planning" for a time to have someone over, even if it is in an attempt to come help out. Plus, unless you are their mom, they're going to feel like they need to tidy up for you and as friends that is the LAST THING WE WANT A NEW MAMA TO DO.
So you're going to have to take some initiative, and be okay with the fact that you won't be able to stay a while and visit, hold the baby, or even see your bestie for more than a couple of minutes. If you want to bring over dinner to the family, try texting her husband and ask when mama is feeding the baby/in the shower/sleeping so that she doesn't feel obligated to chit chat and fill you in on the nitty gritty of delivery or explain the non-existent sleep schedule they've rigged up, and you can drop it off, congratulate the fam, and slip out. This will do more for a new mama than you can even imagine.
If you've reached out a few times and offered to bring things over, or want to check in, or haven't heard anything from the new mama, it's worth it to send a text and say you're coming by with some take out that she can eat for lunch and a couple of books for her older son. Make sure to ask if it's easier to drop them off on the porch or come in. Let her know you're "in the area" and wanted to "swing by" and "drop something off." All of these things allow the mama to have the excuse to avoid the contact but accept the help, and I'm telling you, she will thank you!
When you've got a new mama in your life who is dealing with everything for the first time, it can be nearly impossible to hold your tongue and not spill all of your experiences and wisdom and sage advice with them in the first couple of minutes that they complain. I think that any mama who has ever had a baby at any point in time can tell you that if she wants your opinion on ANYTHING she will (I promise) ASK YOU.
If you're sitting down holding a brand new babe, and you've got a new mama on the couch next to you, you should just be listening, listening, listening. Chances are good that she has been inside her own head a lot since the delivery, and hasn't been able to talk about the things that have been weighing her down, or worrying her, or annoying her, and she needs you to listen to her, help by reassuring her she's doing well and that you're there for her. The advice time will come, and when she comes to you and wants to know what kind of baby monitor you use, or how old your babes were when you stopped swaddling, you'll be there to give your experiences and recommendations. But first, be a listener!
This is one that I think is important for every new mama, but is especially important for mamas who have family flying in for the delivery/birth/postpartum, but then they are leaving after a week or so. These mamas, who are living without the support of their moms or sisters or cousins, and are relying on their friends to support them, will need you more than they will ever be willing to admit, and that means that as a friend of a new mama, you should do your best to just be available.
When you think about all of the things that happen in the first couple months with a new baby, your mind starts to spin when you consider doing all of that without the help of your husband or mom, but that can be the reality of some mamas. Text her and let her know that you can come over and watch the baby while she goes to her 6-week check up, and tell her to stop and run any errands she wants (or to go get her nails done) and to take her time. It's not always convenient to be there during the middle of the day, but new mamas need a little break. Be willing to help in the evening after your littles are in bed, run and grab groceries for your friend, and drop them off at her place. Venmo makes this a complete no-brainer! Be available when she finally decides she's ready to head out of the house and meet up at the park or the mall, and do your best to talk about things OTHER than her new little babe. She needs to remember who she is, and that's why she has you!