New moms have it rough. You’re adjusting to a major life change, recovering from the trauma of giving birth, and trying to figure out how to care for a newborn. That’s why it’s so important for new moms to have that support system that’s interested in the best ways to help a new mom. New moms need their friends and family to help out, but what they need is usually different than what people think.
People want to come over and see the new baby, but that’s often not helpful. Many moms don’t want to hand their baby over to be held by someone else, and if they have to clean or prepare for you, it’s even less helpful. So, if you’ve got a new mom in your life and you’re looking to help or if you’re wondering what you’ll need as a new mom, this is the blog post for you.
Food is so difficult when you first give birth, not just for you but for everyone. You’re beyond exhausted, so it’s hard to put together food for yourself, cook meals, or even go grocery shopping. Breastfeeding moms have it harder because of the number of calories they’re burning, but all new moms are desperate for easy food.
So, if you’re going to go for a visit, bring lunch or dinner for the family. This doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. You can make a freezable lasagna or shepherd’s pie that they can pop in the oven later. Bonus points if it’s in a container they can throw away. You can even make everyone sandwiches. They just need food that’s going to keep their energy up and maybe comfort them a little. Trust me when I say that food goes a long way when you’re postpartum, so if you’re looking for ways to help a new mom, food is at the top of the list.
Go grocery shopping
As I mentioned above, getting the time and energy to go grocery shopping can be rough. If you can go grocery shopping and stock up her fridge with easy, fresh food, the new mom in your life will thank you.
Do some laundry
If you’re looking for an easy chore that you can help with, laundry is top of the list. Once there’s a baby in the house, you start to go through laundry so fast. They’re constantly throwing up, soiling their clothes, and going through bibs. Plus, for similar reasons, parents are going through clothes fast too. Because who wants to stay in a shirt covered in spit-up or breast milk? So, if you’re visiting a new mom, offer to do some laundry and see what she says. She might find it extremely helpful if you’re willing to stick around for a load or two.
Do some dishes
This is another relatively easy chore that needs to get done. When there’s a new baby, there are always dishes to be done, either because the parents are too tired to take care of their own dishes or because there are always bottles or pump parts to be washed. Offer to take care of the dirty dishes, so the new mom can have at least a cleaner kitchen to work with.
Ask if she wants to take a shower
When it comes to handing their baby over to take a shower, every mom is different. Some moms will be relieved to hand their baby over to someone safe so they can have some time to themselves in the shower. Some moms won’t want to hand their babies over at all. It typically depends on their personality, desperation to shower, and what kind of birth they had. But the offer never hurts.
Let her tell her story
When you’ve been through the trauma of giving birth, sometimes you want to talk about it. Sometimes you just want to go through all the details because you find it cathartic in some way. So, ask the new mom in your life if she wants to talk about it. Let her go through the whole event and ask her questions. She may not want to talk about it, but on the other hand, she might find talking about it to be a relief. So, give her the opportunity.
Take care of any pets
The poor pets tend to fall by the wayside a bit when there’s a new baby. This is understandable, but it still weighs on new parents. So, take the dog for a walk or clean the litter box. Give the pets some play time so they can get some energy out. If you’re able to, regularly stopping by to take care of the animals or even taking them for a bit can be a great way to help a new mom.
Entertain any older children
If your new mom has older children, one of the best ways to help her is to entertain them or even take them somewhere like the park. This is especially helpful because the older children might be struggling too with feeling like they’re getting enough attention or playtime. Plus, taking the older children out for the day means the new parents get some special one-on-one time with their new baby, which is always appreciated.
Bring her a present
A lot of the presents that new parents get are for the little one, but new mom needs some love too. This doesn’t need to be big or fancy. Sometimes just a new comfy shirt to relax in, a way to pamper herself, or even just something delicious to eat. Really anything that’s not baby-related. But you can also put together a postpartum kit full of great things to help her recover, like protein bars, witch hazel pads, and nipple cream.
Tell her how good she’s doing
This is one of the best ways to help a new mom emotionally. The thing about being a new mom is that you almost never feel good about how you’re doing. You always feel like you’re drowning or falling behind. You’re struggling to figure out what to do with a new baby. Even if you’ve read all the books, you can never be prepared for being a new mom. So, sometimes, new moms just need to hear that they’re doing good. Tell your new mom friend that you see everything she’s doing and how hard she’s working. Tell her she’s doing amazing, and you’re so proud of her. Trust me. It helps.
Take pictures of her and the baby
It’s amazing how no one thinks to take pictures of a new mom and her baby. Somehow there are always photos of dad and baby or even just baby, but never any of mom and baby. So, ask her if she would like some more photos of her with her new little one. She might say no because she feels gross. But she might say yes, please.
Give her an opportunity to sleep
Sleep is so hard to come by during the newborn stage. There’s that old advice “sleep when the baby sleeps.” But that can be hard because you also need to do so many other things when the baby is sleeping or the baby only wants to sleep in your arms. So, offer to take the baby so that the new mom (or honestly both parents) can get some much-needed sleep. The new mom might be anxious to be away, but just let her know that you’re here, and she can sleep for as short or as long as she’d like.
Come over to see her specifically
This may seem strange, but with so many people coming over to see the baby, it can feel lonely. So, one of the best ways to help a new mom is to have a visit during which you make it clear that you love the baby, but you’re there to see her. You want to spend time with her and hear all about how she’s doing. This is especially important as time goes on and fewer people come over. It’s really easy to feel isolated when you’re postpartum or even all throughout that first year. So, make it your mission to regularly talk to and visit the new mom in your life, even after the newborn stage.
By this, I mean text and check in on your new mom regularly. She might not always be able to answer, but I guarantee that those regular text messages and visits will mean the world to her. Even if she can’t answer in the moment, she’s reading your text messages and appreciating them. So, even if you don’t hear from her, text her every couple of days to make sure she knows you’re thinking about her and here if she needs you.
Be aware of where she’s at
Of course, your new mom loves you, and she’s interested in your life. But unless you’re going through an actual crisis, she might not be able to be there for you right now. Right now, it’s time to be the selfless friend and be there for her, even though she might not be the greatest listener right now.
Just know that she’s going through a rough time, and it will get better. She will one day soon be able to focus on the details of your life, but right now, she’s obsessed with how many times her newborn has pooped, how many ounces they ate in their last feeding, and how she needs to wash the pump parts when she can barely get up off the couch. So, just be aware of where she’s at and meet her there if you can.
You may have noticed that many of these ways to help a new mom start with “ask her” or “offer.” That’s the important part because you don’t ever want to assume what she needs. However, offering specific things is helpful. If you simply ask a new mom, “how can I help?” you might not get an honest answer. Honestly, she might not even know what she needs until you say it. So, ask, “Can I throw in a load of laundry for you?” or “Is there anything from the store you need?” Targeted questions can help you and her figure out how you can be the most useful.
Because that’s the key. If you’re looking for ways to help a new mom, the key is to be useful. If you’re just coming over to see the baby, wait until things have way calmed down. If you’re willing to really help out, new parents will probably welcome your presence.
Erin Lafond is a writer, website creator, and mom. She survived new motherhood by Googling things a lot, calling her mother, and embracing trial and error. Now, she shares her knowledge with all new moms. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and son (soon to be two sons!).