After my first baby was born, a friend of mine from China told me that back home, a woman is a queen for a month or two after her baby is born. All of the local women, as well as family members, help out with meals and cleaning so that she can rest and spend time with her baby. Sounds wonderful to me!
I don’t think it has to be a complete dream, however. I think we can be queens here as well, with the right attitude and support system.
Sometimes it’s hard to be a queen and let others take care of us. We moms think we have to do it all and be it all. But having a new baby, whether it’s your first or fifth, can be quite an adjustment.
I’ve learned this lesson and now make it a point to stay in my pajamas all day after having a baby. It’s true. Just ask anyone who brings a meal to us after we have a baby. I find that it helps me relax and stay in bed more if I’m in my jammies all day long. I also have the added bonus of c-section recovery, so physical rest is even more vital for me, and staying in my jammies is my way of saying “I’m off duty.”
It’s important to rest and recuperate as much as possible after having a baby. Maternal exhaustion after the birth of a baby is linked to incidences of post-partum depression, so the more R&R you can get, the better off you and your family will be months later
What can we do to help our friends who are having babies? It can be difficult to know how to help, especially if you’ve never had a baby yourself. Check out my list of what every new mom needs and see if there’s just one thing you can do to be a blessing to a friend when she has a baby.
What Every New Mom Needs
1. Rest: If you really know the mom well, the best thing you could do for her is help with late night duty. This requires the greatest of sacrifices, your sleep! I had the opportunity to spend a night at my brother’s house just days after his daughter was born. He and I rotated caring for sweet little Harli so that his wife could get the rest that she needed after giving birth. I paid for it the next day with morning sickness, but I learned that there’s a reason it’s completely impossible to have a newborn and be 5 months pregnant at the same time. God never intended our bodies to handle that level of exhaustion! That said, it was totally worth it to be a blessing to Heidi and bond with my new niece.
2. Hot Meals: Bring a hot meal to the family. I can tell you from experience that they won’t really care what it is! At our house, our attitude is if it’s edible and you bring it over, we’ll eat it for dinner. We appreciate meals so much. And it really doesn’t matter if it’s homecooked or not. If you don’t have time to cook, bring pizza or fried chicken over. And if the mom is a nursing mom, they’ll probably appreciate that meal even more. After the baby is born, it becomes so difficult to put dinner together because the baby is eating around the clock. TakeThemAMeal.com is a great website for organizing a meal rotation.
3. Cold Meals: Huh? Yep, cold meals. As in freezer meals. It can be a bit tricky to work out the logistics, but with proper planning, you can do it for a friend. When one friend was pregnant, I planned her freezer meals about a month or two ahead of time. As I made lasagna, chili, crawfish fettucini, or breakfast casserole for my family, I put aside a pan for her family as well. Then a week before her baby was born, I delivered the goods to her. I wish I had time to do this more often, but it’s just not always possible. One of the biggest ways I was blessed after my first child was born was when a dear friend rang our doorbell and delivered a stack of 4 pans to my husband. For our small family, it was the equivalent of 8 days worth of meals!
4. A Clean House: By the time the baby is 3 or 4 weeks old, you can bet those showers and floors are in need of a good cleaning, but I’m sure she’s not up for it yet. Offer to clean them for your friend! She may not take you up on the offer, but it wouldn’t hurt to try!
5. A Grandmother: Someone once offered to rock my baby for me! A sweet older woman at church told me that if I ever needed a nap when my baby was fussy, give her a call and she would rock my daughter. How sweet is that? I didn’t take her up on the offer because the logistics didn’t work, but just the idea of it warmed my heart!
6. A Nap & a Break: If the mom has older children, offer to borrow her minivan and take them for an afternoon. You can take them to the park or bring them back to your house, but offer to let her have some time with her newborn for a bit. If you time it right, she just might be able to squeeze a nap in!
7. Encouraging words: There’s nothing a new mom needs more than encouragement. After I had my first baby, I had a lot of struggles with nursing in those first two weeks. Emotionally, it was very difficult, but one thing that helped was knowing I wasn’t alone. I received several phone calls from friends just to check in on me. I was too tired to pick up the phone, but just hearing their messages was all the encouragement I needed.
And when we started bringing the baby out, I remember how sweet it was to hear people comment on how beautiful she was, instead of saying “how tiny!” New moms are sensitive. If we hear too many “how tiny!” or “how plump!” statements, we start worrying. Maybe she is too small! Maybe she is too chunky. Maybe his head is kind of big. Maybe his legs are too skinny. Most moms with newborns worry about something, so try to keep your comments positive. I distinctly remember a friend of ours (who actually delivered our second baby) referring to our first, Isabelle, as a Thumbelina baby. For some reason, this sounded so kind and positive in comparison to the gazillion “she’s so little”s I’d already heard. No one intended anything negative, but new mom paranoia always runs pretty high.
Along those lines, avoid criticism and unsolicited advice. When a woman has a baby, her hormones are still in full swing, and the last thing she needs is negativity. I don’t care if she stopped nursing pretty early on or if she never tried to begin with. You can bet that mom is doing the absolute best she can, and she needs the affirmation of other women, not harsh words. Tell her what a great job she’s doing, tell her how perfect her baby is, and tell her she can do it, but save the criticism.
I’m sure you’ve picked up by now that I’m just a tiny bit passionate about breastfeeding. But honestly, I also believe that good moms feed their babies. Period. Your method of feeding does not determine your worth as a mom.
Or maybe it’s something different that you disagree with. Maybe she (gasp!) lets her baby sleep in the bed with her! Or she gives it a pacifier. Or she puts it to sleep on its tummy. Or she has her baby on a schedule. Or she doesn’t! Or a thousand other things that half the population disagrees with and the other half thinks is perfectly fine. It’s not our job to be the mommy police. That’s a lesson I’ve been learning lately.
Edify. Encourage. Serve. But don’t criticize, especially with a new mommy.
What would you add to the list? What are your favorite ways to show love to a new mom?