In today's world of independence and "I can do it" mentality, it can be hard to ask for help or accept help. Receiving help from others can feel as though we have failed but it cannot be further from the truth!
As a friend of a new mama, I urge you to reach out to them with help and to continue to follow up. New families are undergoing a completely new and exciting change in their lives, much of it so unexpected that they can't even understand what is happening. Out of habit we say no to help even when we really need it and want to say yes.
Offering your help to new families is one of the greatest gifts you can offer. Don't forget about the families having their second, third, or fourth child. Just because they have already been through it doesn't mean they don't need help anymore. Multiple children can pose more of a challenge for new parents!
1. Bring a meal. A warm, nourishing soup or stew is ideal. The warmth of the soup after birth will help rejuvinate the body and keep the body strong. If you can add fresh, homemade broth (bone or vegetable) that is even more ideal. Consider organizing a meal train with friends whereby everyone brings a meal on a certain day. Remember to drop the meal and leave as soon as possible.
2. Put together a new mama kit filled with some key items: Nipple Butter, Booby Tubes, Nursing Bra, Postpartum Herbs, New Mama Bottom Spray, Lavender Bath Soak. Have the packaged delivered a few days before or after baby is born.
3. Tidy up the kitchen. Stop by at the end of the day and help tidy up the kitchen after a long day. Do the dishes, clear out the fridge, check for expiry dates.
4. Create a healthy snack basket. New moms, especially breastfeeding mamas, love to snack. Throw together a mixture of your favorite healthy snacks - homemade granola bars, energy balls, oatmeal cookies (oatmeal is great for increasing milk production), fresh fruit & veggies, Mother's Milk Tea, Smoothies.
5.Take care of any animals that the new family may have. Does the dog need a walk? Does the cat's litter box need changed? What about the animals food? Are they all topped off? Do they have food in their home? If not, head out and stock up for them!
6. Run some errands for your friend. Offer to pick the kids up from school, go grocery shopping, grab some toilet paper or
7. Do laundry! Laundry piles up incredibly quickly in the early stages. Help the new mama by taking a couple of loads of their back. If they are using reusable diapers, consider purchasing a month or two of a diaper service to make it easier for them in the beginning.
8. If the family has more than 1 child, offer to take the other child(ren) to the park or for a hike. Take the kids outside and give mom some time alone with her new baby.
9. Don't live in the same city as your friend? No worries here! Organize a cleaning service for your friend. Do they need their driveway shovelled through the winter? What about grass cutting services? Pay for a babysitter for the older kids. Find ways to help from far!
10. Spend a couple hours holding the baby while the new mama showers, naps or reads a book. If the baby is sleeping, help the new mom by tidying up around the house.
While some new mamas may not appreciate all the tasks above (be sure to ask before) find a way to help them out without getting in their way or without making them uncomfortable. Maybe they are not comfortable with you doing their laundry but would love for you to clean their house! Seek out ways to help that will fit within their life and that will create ease in their life.
Remember too that the purpose of your visit it not to be an inconvenience or more work for the new mama. Avoid bringing your kids with you and try to keep your visits short. We know that everyone is excited to see the baby and chat with the new mama, but she needs time to bond with her baby, recuperate and rest. She needs lots of rest! There will come a time when the baby and mama have gotten into a rhythm for you to visit and spend time together.