If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve already had the magical yet draining experience of bringing a child into this world, and then caring for it while trying to physically and mentally bounce back from this experience. It’s amazing and I wouldn’t miss it for the world, but man are those first days and weeks after the baby is born exhausting. And lonely. And just plain old HARD. Somehow this tiny little being takes up such a significant amount of time and mental space in our lives, and it’s hard to get much done besides surviving.
The postpartum period is hard to really understand if you’ve never been through it yourself. I’m embarrassed to admit that as a teenager, I once visited a new baby and wondered why no food was served. Clearly, I get it now. But new moms today are presented with so much pressure from social media and even family and friends to see this period as nothing but sunshine and rainbows (ha). What can you do to help a new mom through this time? Read on for some ideas. They might not all be a good fit for your friend, but I’m pretty sure you can find something here that will work.
Bring something when you visit that baby!
Do NOT show up empty-handed, but this doesn’t mean you have to spend the big bucks. Just think about your friend and her family and tailor what you bring. Is big brother or sister feeling neglected? Maybe grab a sticker book or something else they can easily do together while Mom rests. Do her older kids go through milk like nobody’s business? Grab a gallon on the way over. Did she mention that her bleeding is really intense? Maybe a box of pads is the way to go. Not only will you be super helpful, but new mama will be reminded that she has a friend who knows her really well and cares. Sidenote: If these suggestions seem a little too intimate, you probably shouldn’t be visiting this person right after childbirth.
Have dinner delivered
Everyone knows that bringing a meal over is a big help, but frankly, it’s all I can do to feed my own family most nights, let alone make a second meal. So order a pizza from a place with delivery, or check out what you could get delivered through Uber Eats or doordash. Again, no need to send a gourmet meal! Chinese food, burritos, sub sandwiches, or burgers would all hit the spot for a hungry postpartum mom.
Have Supplies Delivered
Thank you, internet, for amazing services like instacart and shipt. Send her a few basics that you know she’ll use (diapers, wipes, paper towel, case of water, etc) and throw in a couple treats. Make sure you check with her before you schedule the delivery so hopefully baby won’t get woken up!
Offer to help out with the older kids
Take them to a movie, bowling, to the playground, or anywhere else that sounds fun. Offer to drive them to practice or classes, or pick them up from school for a few days. If her kiddos are too young for her to feel comfortable with them going out without mom or dad, bring over a fun activity to do with them and let Mom take a nap or a shower. New games, books, or stickers are perfect for this. Bonus that you’ll make her feel better that the kids aren’t just having more screen time. And make sure you clean up the mess before you go!
Get some pictures printed
Listen, printing and framing pictures is too much work for me in my everyday life, let alone postpartum. I have a friend who has printed and framed a photo of my new baby after the birth of both my sons. Not only did I love having pictures to look at, but it also made me feel like I had my house in a tiny bit more order in those crazy days post-childbirth.
Pay for her to get her house cleaned
Ok, this is clearly on the pricier side, but check out Groupon or other deal sites and get her a one-time cleaning that will make her feel like her life is a little more in order. Everyone hates living in a mess, but almost no one is going to take you up on an offer to personally clean their toilets.
Hire a postpartum doula for a few hours
Also a slightly more expensive option, but sometimes a few hours of help is just priceless. A postpartum doula can assist with the baby, nursing, chores for the baby, and older children, giving Mom some much-needed rest time.
After a couple of pricier options, this one is free. And bonus: it takes zero physical energy! You can do it from your couch while you watch your Netflix! Emotional support and connection are SO important after a baby is born. Texting to check in or sending her a funny meme will remind her that there IS a world outside her home. Life won’t always be this draining, and she definitely hasn’t been forgotten.
Be HER Advocate
Above all, make sure you are the kind of support that she can count on to not only have her best interests at heart, but trust the decisions she makes for her child. Her mother-in-law is crazy? Listen to her stories and take her side, then make her laugh. She really dislikes her pediatrician and wants to switch? Give her some suggestions and remind her to trust her gut. She wants to switch to formula? Remind her that we all drank it in the 80s and we’re still here today, and congratulate her on making the best choice for her family. Don’t get sucked into the mom judging that’s so popular these days. Sometimes the best support is just knowing you have someone in your corner no matter what.