It shouldn’t come as a shock to most of us that having a baby is a really big deal. Regardless of how much we prepare, the classes we take, the books we read (more on that later), or the number of children we already have, a new baby means there is a defenseless tiny human who needs us to help them with everything. Babies require energy and stamina from their caretakers. We are at their beck and call at all hours, and their calls are loud.
It’s exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally to be a new mom. Most moms (about 80-85%) will experience the "Baby Blues." The baby blues won’t require treatment and will likely go away on their own in a couple of weeks, but it pretty much sucks while it’s happening. Good news is you can help a new mom feel better! You don’t need to have had the experience of new parentdom to be a helper, either. The beauty of it is, the type of help moms really need, almost anyone can provide.
Keep in mind whilst you’re lacing up your Helper boots, that your favorite new mom will probably suck at asking for your help. We read all of these books that tell us exactly how to do the best job. Most of those books disagree with those other books; so, we’re confused. We go to social media for answers, and the barrage of information and images of everyone else’s perfect babies and lives with a newborn overwhelm us. We ask our mothers and grandmothers for suggestions, and we hear sometimes archaic and often misguided suggestions as to how to do the best job. New moms are worn out with all of it, and we just want a little help that doesn’t make us feel terrible. We might also be too stubborn or embarrassed to ask. Don’t sweat it. Help us anyway.
Don’t fear, you oh mighty new-mom helper. Here’s a few simple things you can do to make her day-nay her week better.
Fold her laundry!
Babies poop, pee and spit up like it’s their job. Dirty clothes are a baby’s jam. Maybe, by some miraculous twist of merciful fate, that baby is a great napper and mom can predict how much time she’ll get to tend to laundry-related chores. But, yeah, no, let’s not assume that is going to happen. Be a peach, when you go over to visit (which you preferably scheduled via text or email at a convenient time for her), grab a basket of laundry and start folding. You folding her laundry might be uncomfortable at first. But trust me, she’ll enjoy the help. Bonus points: you sit down with her and talk with her about her baby. Moms love to talk about their babies.
Spend some time with the older kids!
New babies require a lot of mom’s attention and the likelihood is pretty strong that older siblings are getting the raw end of the deal for a bit. Offer to hang out with them! You don’t have to take them anywhere if that weirds you out, though it’s worth mentioning that older kids don’t tend to poop, pee and spit up NEARLY as often as their miniature counterparts. Stop by and play hide-and-go-seek with them, or color a dinosaur picture. Go out in the yard with them and throw a ball around. Everyone will love you for it. Bonus points: you bring lunch when you go. Kids love lunch.
Be her Social Media Sherpa!
Full Disclosure: I love Facebook. I do. I love it. But, it’s also sort of evil. As a group of folks, we aren’t notorious for putting the worst of ourselves on social media for all to witness. It’s far more common that what we present is a charming façade of the best moments of an otherwise ordinary or completely terrible day. When you are up with a newborn, providing the 134th feeding of the day, scrolling your news feed, it’s not likely that you have your rational hat on. New moms read the posts of other new moms with their cute perfect baby pictures and their awesome latches. Sometimes, new moms feel like failures in comparison. Be the friend that says “yo, dude, she probably had to take 75 pictures before she got that one perfect shot,” “I bet her nipples hurt too,” “Yeah, that baby is real cute and all, but how are her hemorrhoids treating her?” Bonus points: you offer to take a photo for her to post on social media so she can show off her perfect baby/life.
Let her be real!
Being a new mom is scary. Not every moment of the experience is a chocolate-dipped rainbow with a butterfly chaser. Some of the moments suck. They sore nipple, sore vagina, hemorrhoid, exhausted, “dear all that’s good in the universe WHY IS THIS BABY STILL CRYING?” suck. And that’s okay. Let her say those things to you, and don’t be freaked out by it. Bonus points: you offer to hold that crying baby so she can take a little break.
It takes a village to love a new mom y’all; a kind, supportive village that understands how awesome/awful new mommy land can be. You can be her village. Bonus points for letting someone else be the village idiot.
About the Author
Beth Shelton, LMSW, CPD is a Certified Postpartum Doula with Homecoming Postpartum Services and a Maternal Mental Health therapist with Appleseeds, Inc. Beth enjoys chasing her children and her chickens around her backyard, appreciates a long hike, and has a slightly inconvenient obsession with tie-dying.