Supporting a new mother during those first few weeks and months of parenting is incredibly important and rewarding. New mothers are so thankful for help, and oftentimes in our culture, taking care of Mom gets pushed aside once the excitement of a newborn takes hold. Visitors may want to come and see the baby or hold the baby, which is great in its own way, but can also feel like a burden to a woman who has so many other demands placed upon her shortly after a birth.
A new mother needs to feel that she, too, is being cared for and given appropriate time to rest and recover. Historically, in cultures around the world, close family members dutifully helped a woman acclimate to the job of mothering. A mother, sisters, aunts and friends would take over a woman’s household duties so that she could devote her time and energy to recovering from her pregnancy and birth as well as getting to know the new little human now looking to her for everything.
Certainly, things have changed. Many families no longer live close by these days, making it difficult if not impossible for a mother to expect the type of care she needs postpartum. New mothers are also expected to return to work mere weeks after giving birth. She may rely more on her chosen community to help her when she feels overwhelmed about the many responsibilities that come with motherhood. So, how can a friend or family member help? Besides delivering meals, there are many helpful ways to support a family with a new baby.
Laundry, laundry, laundry
If you’ve ever cared for a newborn, you know how much laundry adds up over the course of even a few days. Offer to pick up a whole load of laundry, take it home and wash it. You can return it folded so that the family doesn’t have to worry about this chore.
Hire a housekeeper
With the family’s permission, hire a cleaning service to come to their home once or twice. Alternatively, you can get a community of friends to pitch in and perform this service for a few months. The new family will rejoice that they don’t have to worry about cleaning their home when they have a little one (or ones) to tend to.
Hire a postpartum doula
A postpartum doula is a woman who comes to a family’s home to help with anything from breastfeeding to laundry to helping the new mother eat healthy and nutritious meals. She is a wonder to have around after birth because she knows what a normal recovery looks like and can answer questions about anything from bleeding to baby blues.
Take the older kids out for the day
If the new mother you’re supporting has older children, offer to take them for an outing to a park, movie or somewhere special for the day. This helps a new family to get some much-needed quiet time with the new baby, which we all know comes sparingly when there are other siblings in the house!
Make a grocery trip
Call a new mother to ask if she needs anything from the grocery or if you can get their food for the week. This will save her a trip out with the baby, which includes car seat juggling, fear of germs and can also push her still recovering body too far.
Bring a basket of snacks
Find out Mom’s favorite snack food and fix her up a healthy variety to keep near her nightstand or feeding station so that she remembers to feed herself at the same time she’s feeding her baby!
These are just a few tips, but we’re sure you can think of more. Asking a new mother what she needs is important in empowering her to take care of herself. Maybe she desires a listening ear to vent about her birth experience or maybe she just wants a nice warm meal that she doesn’t have to clean up after. Either way, supporting a new family is a rewarding way to give back to your community, family and friends.