I have noticed that in this new role of motherhood, other people’s lives have not radically changed, and their pace of life is the same as before. They may not remember to call or visit or to ask you if you need support. Its the nature of busy lives.
We were lucky, for three weeks after Atira’s Birth friends came and delivered home cooked meals in our cooler outside the front of our home. And if we were not napping and were in the space to receive visitors, they would come in and visit for a short while. It was sacred to have this sweet space after the birth and time to really recover.
And in this process some thoughts came about tips that may be helpful for those who may not be so familiar with the parents of a new born.
A note to partners, family or friends:
If a breast feeding new momma expresses that she is going through a hard day, or is feeling vulnerable in her new role, here’s what is really helpful.
Think about offering help in this way:
1~Make them a meal and drop it off, maybe don’t expect to stay for a visit as it may be nap time, perhaps even leave it by the door and leave a text letting them know. The truth is, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to make lunch, so this will feel super supportive and nourishing.
And remember to avoid bringing foods that she can’t eat: spicy food/ foods with anything in the brassica family that may cause gas in the baby…..
2~If you drop by for a visit: Take in the needs of the new mama, maybe reconsider pulling up a chair and asking for a cuppa. If there is a pile of laundry, feel inspired and go full steam ahead and fold it. If there are dishes in the sink, please: wash them. If there is cat hair or general debris on the floors, get the vacuum cleaner out and clean those suckers. Let her sit and nurse her baby, or nap, or even just sit and do nothing…it is rare for a new momma to be able to do that.
3~On a smilier note: when visiting, don’t always jump to take the baby so momma or poppa can get to doing tasks they simply cannot get to, ask if they would like you to do those tasks instead. They may not want you to, but ask and see. Doing this could let them have unhindered love time with their babe where they no longer have to think of those things that simply linger and never seem to get done! That is a real gift….on the other hand they may want you to love up their baby and create a bond, its worth asking though.
4~ In the first week or two help them feel supported by being curious about the sacredness of parenthood, or the challenges, ask about the whole spectrum of what is unfolding for them right now. Ask them what they need to feel supported.
5~And don’t be hurt if she doesn’t seem to be able to concentrate on what your saying, or is not totally jazzed about your news, she is sleep deprived and tired!
6~If you visit: think about making it a short one. This may change while you are there, but intend to stay only for a short time. I have noticed that if a visitor stays for hours I get distracted and very tired. A new momma needs to focus on her child. It is not always easy to hold conversations when your new baby is needing their love and attention.
7~ A new parent doesn’t always know what they need in any given moment. However, if you are there, it is easier to see what needs to be done or ways you can help. Again, don’t intend to stay and fill momma in on all your news about online dating, support her for now. She can hear about that some other time!
8~Don’t take it personally if she doesn’t call you back. She has a million other things on her mind about how to keep her child alive, well and thriving! She cannot get to everything right now and her priorities are her baby. And if you are on the phone to her, be mindful of her time. The hour spent chatting could be the time she may actually need to wash diapers, eat, go for a walk……she may not always be good at telling you that.
9~ Make a bag of treats, if you’re into that kind of thing: what does this momma love? Maybe its some homemade face cream, or a salt scrub with relaxing essential oils, or some sweet treats to feed the soul (avoid chocolate though!) . Some nice nettle tea bags, or Epson salts with rose petals for a foot bath…use your imagination and go wild!
10~ Go ahead, give her a massage!
Her shoulders, neck and back are probably sore from carrying, feeding, walking with the baby. She would most likely love a bit of an auld rub. And a tip on the subject: extend the time for more then 5 minutes….go for gold, give this momma some good rubbing for 15 minutes or more. She really really needs it. Anything less then 5 minutes feels like a tease.
And if you’re a foot person, massage her feet. After the added weight from the last stages of pregnancy to holding the new born and walking with them constantly, her feet get tired and sore. She would, if she likes her feet being touched that is, to have some tender loving foot care.
11~ Help in any small way….We are not use to getting help in this culture, and quite often when offered help we decline saying, “no thanks I’m fine”. Well world let’s open up to more support, both giving and receiving! So if the momma or poppa you know are saying no thanks, help in any small way you can. Bring over some shopping, and even putting it away for them. People are in the habit of not making themselves a nuisance or being any trouble, but believe me: They will appreciate it.
This is a sensitive time, especially the 6 weeks after the birth. And also a lot of the time new parents receive the bulk of support straight after the birth, and the following 2 weeks. After that a lot of the extra help seems to drop off. This usually coincides with the time the partner has to go back to work. In the united states anyhow.
When the partner has to return to work, an added boost of support can really be needed and deeply appreciated. It can be a time where the baby changes rhythm, and all of a sudden the milk momma needs to be the sole nurturer, and its not always easy. This was the time my mother came to visit, in this transition, and it was a very welcomed relief to know she was by my side.
So also think about continuing your support even weeks after the birth, a warm meal is always welcome, and lets face it the vacuuming always needs doing!
If you take these pointers and sample them on any friend or family member that has just had a baby, they will deeply appreciate your support and feel honored and cherished, seen and acknowledged. Isn’t that what we want for every new parent? SO reach out, be mindful and love that momma or new parent up to the max, because they need it and will revel in it!
A BIG thank you to my community and my own momma bear who helped make my transition into motherhood a graceful one!
blessings to you all!