The Help New Parents Need
Hi friends - it's Racheal Nye joining for another guest blog post. I'm especially excited to share this one as a new first time mom myself. I've gathered these tips on how to help a postpartum mom both from what I have found helpful myself and what some of my new-mom-friends have shared as well. I know this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of how to help new parents, but hopefully this gives some ideas on what can be truly helpful during an exciting and challenging time. Enjoy!
Postpartum isn’t talked about much. Sure, we’re aware of it, but much of what women go through is kept silent. It’s usually the first couple of weeks people check in, primarily on the baby. But what about the moms? Often, it’s not even the first couple of weeks the mom might need help. There is an adjustment, and many women experience the baby blues, but after a couple of weeks or even a month, families are left to figure out their new routines, and too many women are left feeling alone while they learn to navigate their postpartum life. For too many women this includes depression, anxiety, and even rage. Postpartum is hard enough – we’re beginning to adjust to life with a newborn who constantly needs our attention, we’re running on little to no sleep, if there are other kids it’s learning to be present for them as well, and your relationship with your partner certainly begins to look different.
So I’ve compiled a small list of what I think could be beneficial from friend to mom.
1. Tell them you’re bringing something. Whether it’s their favorite coffee order or a meal for the whole family, don’t ask what they need, just bring it over. This will mean so much and save them a ton of time. Often, new parents are not eating nutritious meals because they are just trying to get by. Don’t wait for them to ask. If it’s on your heart, take it to them.
2. Don’t comment on her body. Her body is going to be so new to her. She spent the last nine months creating and carrying life, and now she’s left quite literally with a wound, and whether she pushed or had a c-section, she’s healing and learning to love her post-baby body. Don’t talk about bouncing back, don’t comment on her size and whether you think she looks like she just had a baby or not. Chances are, she’s battling her own internal dialogue, and your comment is probably better just left unsaid.
3. Encourage help. If you notice she may be dealing with PPD, PPA or PPR, encourage her to seek a professional to speak with or find a support group. Remind her that she doesn’t have to go through this stage alone and there are people trained to help. Don’t push her about it, but a kind reminder might be just what she needs – she may not even realize what she’s dealing with.
4. Help her out. Most moms probably aren’t going to ask you to clean the dishes or fold laundry, but when you go over to meet the baby, doing those mundane household tasks can be a tremendous help. The families’ goal is to take care of the baby and each other. Household chores often get pushed to the wayside, but having someone who just comes over and helps without making them feel bad can be a tremendous stress relief.
5. Remind her she’s doing a great job. Parenting is hard, and there is for some reason the feeling of guilt and the question “Am I doing a good enough job?” Sometimes all she needs is to be told she’s doing a great job and she’s just the mom her baby needs.
6. Check on her beyond the first month. There are so many stages beyond the newborn stage that are difficult. Ask her how she’s doing, and listen. Empower her to talk about what she’s going through, and maybe still take her that coffee or dinner if you learn they’re going through a sleep regression. Parenting is hard all of the time, not just the first month, and it’s often beyond that the mother needs the most help.
And if you’re a mom or parent trying to navigate life with a baby, whether it’s your first or fifth baby, know you are not alone, and it is ok to ask for help whether it’s with a meal or so you can get some sleep. All of these play into your mental health, and it really does take a village. Don’t forget to use yours.