New mothers really need, and deserve, as much help as they can get from their friends and family. Here are 9 things moms with newborns wish you would do for them! Help a new mama by surprising her with something onthis list.
Guest Post by Emily McClements of Live Renewed
Emily is giving us some WONDERFUL ideas on how to best help a new mama once her baby arrives! Emily is a true kindred spirit, and I’ve been reading her blog for a long time now. You will definitely want to pay her site a visit!
The days and weeks following the arrival of a new little bundle of joy can be overwhelming for a new mama. I know, I’m currently right in the middle of those days with my daughter, Blair, who was born on June 8th. For a new mother, trying to care for her family, especially if she has older children, and manage her home while still recovering from the birth of her baby, nursing around the clock, and dealing with the ups and downs of postpartum hormones is not an easy task.
Many times close friends and family have good intentions of trying to help out new moms as they transition into their life with a new baby. But often, those intentions either get left as just that, good intentions, or they fall short of providing the kind of help and support that a new mother truly needs.
It also seems like our culture does not really value the time and space that a woman needs to be able to rest and recover after birth. Our culture expects moms to just jump back into their old routines and responsibilities within a few days, or at least a week or two, after their baby arrives.
And some of this falls on the new mother too, who also expects that she will have to just continue on with taking care of her family and home without much outside help. This might be due to pride, or feeling bad about asking others for help. I know this was the way I felt after my first two babies were born.
This time around with Blair though, I really wanted, and expected, to get a lot of outside help and support. And while I did get some from close friends and family, it honestly wasn’t as much as I was hoping for. It did leave me somewhat sad that I had to get back to my responsibilities sooner than I had hoped.
New mothers really need, and deserve, as much help as they can get from their friends and family. Providing help and support in the days and weeks following the birth of a new baby can help a new mother feel loved and cared for, and help relieve feelings of isolation and even postpartum baby blues.
Maybe you know a new, or soon-to-be, mama and you really do want to help, but you’re not sure the best way to go about it. I’ve put together a list of some ideas to get you started that would be a great help, and blessing, to a new mother. These things will help give her the time and space that she needs to rest and recover, while still making sure that her family is well cared for.
1. Bring Meals
This is the type of help that is most often offered, and it is definitely needed and appreciated. Not having to worry about getting dinner on the table for your family at night is a huge burden lifted off a mama’s shoulders. If you are coordinating dinners for a new mother, try to make sure that they have at least a month, or more, worth of meals. It will probably be at least that long before she will feel ready to add cooking back into her daily routine.
Also, if you are bringing a meal to a family with a new baby, don’t stress out too much about what to bring. I always say that any food that I don’t have to prepare or cook myself tastes especially good, and it’s also nice to sit right down to a warm meal without a dirty kitchen waiting for me afterward. But, do make sure that you provide enough food to allow for leftovers, which are great for a family’s lunch the next day.
2. Provide Frozen Meals
Along with bringing meals, another great idea is to provide frozen meals for the family. They can use these either for the early days when a meal is not provided for one reason or another, or for after their scheduled meals are over, so that they still have something quick and easy to pull out of the freezer for dinner and don’t have to resort to running through the drive-through.
Frozen meals can either be made by friends and family and given to the family, or, consider spending a freezer cooking day with an expectant mother, helping her cook and prepare meals to fill up her freezer with before her baby arrives.
3. Watch her older kids
As I write this right now, my two older kids are at a friend’s house playing, and hopefully getting lots of energy out! But the point is, they’re not here and I have some quiet time to myself with just the baby to get some things done.
Offering to watch a new mama’s older kids is such a huge help because often the most overwhelming part of having a new baby is juggling the needs of older children with those of the newborn, neither of which are very patient!
You can invite the older children over to your house for a play date to give the mama some time at home. Or you can offer to watch the kids at her house while she goes out and runs errands with the baby. If you’re watching her kiddos at her house, be sure to see the next suggestion for another way to help while you’re there!
4. Clean her house
Now, this one can be little uncomfortable, especially for the new mother (it’s hard to let other people see our messes, isn’t it?), and it’s one that she is least likely to ask for help with. Cleaning the house is the last thing a new mama wants to do, yet trying to take care of her family in the midst of a messy, or dirty, home is overwhelming and depressing. So, offer to help clean her house, and let her know that you don’t care, and are not offended by, the state that her house is in (all of our homes get messy and out of control at times, right?!)
Here are some easy things to do that aren’t too personal or uncomfortable:
- wash dishes
- clean the kitchen
- vacuum or sweep the floors
- start a load of laundry
- clean up toys in the kids room or play room
If you’re family or a really close friend, then definitely offer to help clean the bathroom or fold and put away laundry. Guys can even help out the new dad by offering to mow the lawn or help with other outside work.
5. Stop by to talk (and bring Starbucks just because)
The first few days and weeks can feel isolating for a new mom. It feels hard to get out of the house by yourself with a new baby, especially if you also have older children, so most days are just spent at home.
I know the first week I was at home by myself, after my husband went back to work and my mom went back home, was really hard for me. I didn’t leave the house all week. By Friday the kids and I were pretty stir crazy, and I was definitely feeling quite lonely.
So, instead of inviting a new mom out for coffee, offer to bring her Starbucks and stop by just to talk for a little while. She will welcome the change of pace in her day, and having an adult conversation will help her to feel connected. Oh, and feel free to wash some dishes before you leave too! (see above) 🙂
6. Call or text
If you aren’t able to stop by because you work during the day, or have young kids at home yourself, then make the effort to simply call or even text her, just to check in. Again, those early days can be isolating, so any kind of encouraging word and connection with friends and family can lift her spirits and help her not to feel so lonely.
7. Seasonal help
Depending on what time of year her baby is born, you could offer help that is specific to that season. There are probably things that that the new mama would like to do, but won’t have the time for after her baby arrives. Your best bet would be to ask her what kind of help she would like. Here are a few options for each season:
Spring: Start some seeds for her to later transplant in her garden, or just go ahead and grow a few extra plants yourself so that you can give her the extra harvest. Offer to help with spring cleaning and/or organizing.
Summer: Help by preserving fresh produce for her. Freeze berries, make jam, or can peaches, pears, or tomatoes for her family to use throughout the year. My mom helped me clean and freeze strawberries while she was here. I was so grateful because otherwise we would have missed out on that this year.
Fall: Help with outdoor chores like raking leaves and yard clean up, or make homemade applesauce for her family.
Winter: Offer to help with holiday shopping, either by watching her kids, or picking things up at the store for her. Make Christmas cookies for her kids to decorate, help her with wrapping presents, or offer to shovel their driveway.
8. Grocery shopping or running errands
As I’m writing this, Blair is six weeks old, I have only been to the grocery store one time. Trying to manage all three kids at the store just doesn’t sound like a fun idea to me right now. I ask my hubs to run by the store on his way home from work to pick up some stuff we really need, but our fridge and pantry are definitely looking sparse, and I often look and wonder what we’re going eat for breakfast, lunch, or snacks.
Also, there have been days when I’ve tried to do a craft or activity with my kids, but realized that I was missing one or two supplies. I can’t just run out quickly to pick them up, so I haven’t been able to do those activities yet with my kids.
If you’re running to the store, or will already be out running errands, ask a new mama if you can pick up a few things for her. You could also ask for her shopping list and make a special trip to pick up groceries or other supplies just for her. She will really appreciate not having to worry about running errands with her new baby, and other kids, in tow.
9. Hold the baby
Helping a new mama doesn’t have to be all chores and no fun for you. One simple way you can help a new mom is just to offer to hold her baby so she can have some personal time to eat a meal, or take a shower, without having to worry about her baby. Many newborns are “in arms” babies and like it when you hold them most of the time, which can mean that a new mama’s arms don’t get much of a break. Once the mama feeds and changes the baby, you can provide a set of safe and loving arms so the mother can take a little time for herself. And you get to enjoy some new baby snuggles too!
Helping a new mama after her baby arrives doesn’t have to be complicated. But, it does have to be intentional. If you know a new, or expectant, mom, take the time to connect with her this week and see how you can bless her and her family with a little extra help.
She will feel loved and cared for, and will appreciate the help more than you know. And besides just the meal you make or dishes you wash, you’ll be providing the time and space that she needs to rest and recover with her new little bundle of joy!
What are some of your ideas for helping a new mama after her baby arrives?
Emily McClements is passionate about caring for God’s creation while saving money at the same time. She is a blessed wife and mama to three young children, including a new baby girl, and blogs about her family’s journey toward natural and simple living at Live Renewed.
Come check out our other “After Baby Comes: Postpartum Recovery Tips & Blessings for New Moms” posts all month long!