What does a new mother need, the day after her little one is born? The list will be similar for new moms and experienced moms alike. And if you’re trying to help out a close friend or family member right after they’ve welcomed their newest addition to the family, hopefully this will give you some ideas.
1. Her Baby – Often, well-meaning “helpers” will offer to “take the baby so you can do something.” Right after the baby is born, this is the last thing most mothers want. With the exception of letting someone hold the baby for 10 minutes so she can get in a quick shower, a new mother will most likely want to hold and snuggle her little darling 99% of the day.
Instead? If you’re visiting on day 1 – this means you’re either a very close friend/relative OR overstepping; think about which it is BEFORE you show up on her doorstep – do a load of laundry, wash the dishes that are on the kitchen counter, and bring a meal or easy-to-eat snacks.
2. Peace – Hustle and bustle can be unavoidable sometimes, but right after a new baby is born, it’s best to spend some time “babymooning,” just basking together in the newness and love and sparkles and magic and happy-hormones. For me, with both kids, this meant lots of time snuggling in bed and nursing, cuddling, staring at my new baby, in silence or with quiet music. When I had Joey, Anneliese wanted to spend a lot of time with us of course, and I wanted her to be involved, but she was a bit rough sometimes, trying to climb on me while visiting.
How to help? Take older siblings for some playtime, even if it’s just in their own living room, a park nearby, or at your own house. (My husband took Anneliese to the playground a lot in the first few days while my uterus was very sore, and it helped a LOT with “peace.” Plus, she got special fun one-on-one time with Dada.)
3. Nutrition – The new mom worked VERY HARD just a day ago, and whether she had a vaginal birth or a c-section, she has some physical recovering to do. Having lots of nutrient-dense foods on hand that are prepared or easy-to-prepare will go a long way toward her feeling like “herself” more quickly. And water throughout the day is so important, too. Nutrition and hydration are also crucial for milk production, even if people constantly tell you, “Baby will get what it needs from mom’s milk regardless of what she eats.” (Does that make sense to you??)
Lend a Hand – Think beyond the casseroles and boxes of cookies people normally bring. Try giving the family some gift certificates to places that deliver. Or bring some fresh foods to snack on throughout the day, like pre-cut/washed fruit and veggie trays, deli meats, and cheese, not just a prepared dinner. Or cook up some of your favorite freezable foods and pop them in the new mom’s freezer (with heating/cooking instructions) so she can make them when she runs out of “ready to eat” things. A breakfast casserole or a basket of beautiful homemade muffins and whole fruit will also serve to round out the usual casserole offerings.
Need other ideas for helping out a new mom?
- Give a gift certificate for a trusted maid service. Let HER choose when they come though. The last thing she’ll want is unfamiliar people bursting in and bustling through her entire house when baby is 2 days old.
- Give a spa/massage/chiropractor gift certificate. (Baby can have a chiropractic adjustment too!) BUT it’ll likely sit unused unless you also offer to GO WITH THE MOM and hold her baby in the waiting room while she has her treatment. Moms aren’t going to want to hire a babysitter or leave their fresh new baby at home. But knowing baby is just a few feet away in case she’s needed will help her relax.
- Make a basic shopping run. Buy toilet paper, milk, and other basics mom might run out of in the early days.
- Give mom a “lazy kit.” Even if she’s the greenest person you know, she might get overwhelmed with dishes and diapers now and then… and it might not be right away. Give her a package of disposable dishes, utensils, napkins, paper towels, diapers, and wipes, and give her permission to use them guilt-free when she feels the need.
- Be available, really. Tell the new mom to call or text anytime for the first week. 4am isn’t out of the question. If she has the support of an experienced mom who doesn’t mind being “on call,” she’ll feel more secure and less lonely.
- Run errands. Ask if anything needs to go to the post office, or if she has books to return to the library, rented movies to return, or dry cleaning to pick up (hey, she might have dropped some off before the baby surprised her with its birth day!).
- HELP her run errands. Sometimes she will actually want to get out and do things herself, even if it’s early on. But it can seem like an overwhelming task, especially if her husband is at work. Offering yourself as an extra set of hands during those errands is a great way to help her feel more normal and get out of the house.
- Give MOM a gift. The new baby will be getting LOTS of attention and will be showered with gifts. Think of the new mom, and give her something special just for her. A pretty (comfortable, nursing-accessible) dress, or delicious handmade lotion (check etsy), a piece of jewelry, or your favorite “beach reading” (since it may be a bit hard to concentrate on anything too heavy). A fluffy new bath robe or a snuggly blanket would be great too. If you’re out of ideas, do some background research and see if mom has pinned any “wish list” items on Pinterest, or see if she has a wish list on Amazon.
- Pamper the pets. With a new baby in the house, pets can be ignored. Cats might not care, but dogs do. Take the dog for a walk or to the dog park to play for a while.
- Offer encouragement, not advice. Encouragement sounds like, “You’ve got this!” or “You’re doing an awesome job.” “Go with your gut; mama knows best.” Unsolicited advice is unsolicited for a reason.