They say the first six weeks after having a baby are the hardest. I don’t actually remember the first six weeks after Angie and Emmy – or much of the first year, either, to be honest – but the first six weeks with Rafe haven’t been too bad. (I could do with more sleep, though.)
A new mom can always use all the support she can get, so here are a few ideas if you’re looking for ways to help your new mom friend.
1. Feed her (and her family)
The last thing a new mom feels like doing is cook supper for her family, particularly if she already has children keeping her busy and she can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, as everyone tells her to do. With each of my babies, I have been blessed by my home cell and other ladies in the church who provided meals every day for the first couple of weeks after we brought the baby home from the hospital.
With Rafe, I was even organised enough to prepare my own freezer meals the week before his birth, so we were sorted for the first month. (Getting back into cooking-mode has been somewhat challenging, so I’ve been sticking with easy-to-prepare options. One day I’ll cook from scratch again, but not this day.)
One tip: check if the mom you’re cooking for is breastfeeding, and if so then try to avoid onions, cauliflower, broccoli and strong spices or curries. Some babies won’t react to these, but others can get really gassy.
2. Don’t be a stranger
A new mom probably expects people to visit, even if she may not feel up to company. She wants to show off her baby almost as much as she wants to sleep, so if you do visit then don’t overstay your welcome. Check with her before arriving at the door, don’t comment on the state of the house or that she’s still in her pyjamas, and if you want to make her love you forever, then don’t show up empty-handed. Bring a meal (see #1), or a small gift, or tell her you’re there to cook/clean/wash dishes/hold the baby so she can sleep (see #3).
Good ideas for gifts: chocolate (for energy, of course), hand lotion, comfy socks/slippers, a voucher for a pamper treatment. Because, yes, it’s great that people want to spoil the baby and she does appreciate that, but it’s nice to know that she hasn’t been forgotten amidst all the excitement of Baby’s arrival.
If you don’t visit, then send her a text message every few days to let her know you’re thinking about her. These messages will help her with the cabin fever that is sure to set in at some point.
3. Extend a helping hand
Are you looking for some practical ways to help your new mom friend? If she’s had a C-section, she won’t be able to drive for at least six weeks. If you have the time, take her grocery shopping or to the clinic for baby’s check-ups.
If she already has children, she may need help getting them to and from school or extramural activities. She may also appreciate having someone come over to babysit them, or the new baby, while she has a nap or a shower.
A clean house is probably the last of her worries. (Okay, even without a newborn, a clean house is the last of my worries.) Do the dishes piling up in the sink, or was a load of laundry for her. She will appreciate you forever.
Do you have other suggestions?