The days and weeks following the arrival of a new baby can be overwhelming for a new mama.
Often, friends and family have all the best intentions in the world to help out as new mamas transition to life with a new baby.
But these intentions are often just that, and go no further. Sometimes, people focus on the baby and forget to support the mother in the way she really needs.
New mamas need plenty of support but they’re the least likely to ask for help. They might be desperate for help but hate to ask for it.
13 Ways To Help A New Mama After Birth
Here are 13 ways you can help out a new mama after birth. Be sure to find out which would be most helpful, so you don’t overwhelm her with what you want to do.
This is quite often the most helpful support you can offer. Trying to organise meals for yourself is hard enough when you have a tiny newborn and you’re experiencing sleep deprivation. Feeding a family can be even more challenging.
Rope in all available friends and family and get together a bunch of meals and snacks that are freezable or easily reheated on the day. Even if you can only cook one dish, make a big batch and freeze it in portions, for several meals.
If you’re organising meals for a new mama, make sure she has least a month’s supply of dinners. And don’t forget healthy snacks she can easily eat with one hand if she’s breastfeeding.
#2: Help With Older Kids
There’s nothing quite like watching your older children bond with their new sibling. But a new mama and her older children will appreciate some help when it comes to getting them to and from school and other activities, or even just taking them on an outing or to a play date with peers.
The first few weeks with a newborn is a huge adjustment for the whole family. As much as possible, older children need to feel their world is continuing as usual. This makes the new changes in their life feel less of a challenge.
#3: Clean Her House
Honestly, this one can be a little touchy. Cleaning her house is the last thing a new mama wants to do, or should be doing, right now. At the same time, trying to feel comfortable in the middle of a messy house can be really hard. Even so, not many of us really like others to see the state of our homes when we’ve let things go.
You can get around this by either giving her a voucher for a cleaner (it’s a perfect baby shower gift!) or by offering to do it, and promising you don’t care what state her house is in.
#4: Do Some Chores
If she’s really uncomfortable with you cleaning her house, or if she already has a cleaner organised, then you can still help by picking up some daily chores. This is super easy to do when you visit. You might:
- Wash the dishes or unpack and restack the dishwasher
- Tidy the kitchen and sweep the floor
- Get a load of laundry on and fold any clean laundry
- Tidy up the space she’s in, so she’s not surrounded by clutter.
Close friends or family can offer to do some bigger chores like mowing the lawn or cleaning the bathroom.
#5: Stay In Touch
One of the biggest and weirdest feelings new mamas have is how isolated they are. Everyone else is getting on with life, as normal, while new mamas feel as though they’ll never leave the house again, thanks to a tiny human being who wants to sleep on them or feed constantly.
That’s why you should make a point of staying in touch. Check in via text, to see how she’s going, or call her and remind her how amazing she is right now. If you can (and if she’s up for it) drop in for a catch up on the latest gossip so she feels connected to the rest of the world.
#6: Do Her Shopping
There is nothing harder than trying to get the shopping done with a newborn who randomly sleeps for three hours straight, then cluster feeds for the next three hours. It’s even harder when there are older children involved.
If you can, pick up her grocery list and stock up her pantry. Even if you buy just some extra staples like bread and milk, it can really help. And to make it even easier, text her while you’re out and about with ‘I’m at the shops. What do you need?’ so she doesn’t feel like she’s putting you out.
At times she’ll be so tired that driving just isn’t an option. Or she might not feel up to navigating traffic with a newborn and other kids in the car.
If you have the time, offer to take her to well baby visits or appointments. This will take a big load off her mind. Having someone with her to entertain the older children is also a bonus. It can be a problem if she wants to talk to the paediatrician about a worrying rash while Mister 2-year-old is threatening to have a tantrum because he needs a snack – right now.
New mamas might need a shoulder to cry on. Hormones, lack of sleep, isolation and lack of support can really take their toll. If she needs to offload, she’ll find it really helpful if you sit with her and listen, so she can process her emotions and figure out a solution.
Some mamas might display signs of depression. Just by being there, you can help her find the support she needs. Don’t be tempted to diagnose her, but encourage her to seek advice from her doctor or midwife.
#9: Give Her An Afternoon Off
A few hours to herself can be such a luxury. If she’s comfortable with it, offer to look after the baby while mama takes herself off for a shower, a bath or a long nap. If she is desperate for a haircut or has the chance of a pamper treatment, offer to go with her, so you can hold the baby while she gets some self care.
An afternoon off could mean popping her into bed with baby, while you take care of the domestic chores and the other kids.
#10: Make Memories For Her
It’s a well known fact new mamas end up behind the camera instead of in front of it. There’s probably a lot of beautiful memory-making going on, and she’s missing out. Ask if you can take some photos for her – even if it’s just a close up of her, with her freshy in her arms, or the older siblings doting on the new baby.
There’s no need for her to get ‘presentable’; candid shots are often the ones we appreciate the most when we look back on them.
#11: Help With Pets
The family cat or dog probably isn’t getting much attention right now. If you have half an hour to spare, offer to take the dog for a walk.
They are no-one’s favourite jobs, but cleaning out the litter tray, topping up food and water and grooming pets will be a great help for a mama with a newborn.
#12: Give Her Something For Herself
Does she love reading? Are Netflix series her thing? She’ll be spending a lot of hours under a sleeping baby, and if she can’t catch up on sleep (which you should encourage her to do) make sure she has plenty of options for keeping herself entertained. These could include the latest edition of her favourite magazine, or a new book by an author she loves.
#13: Turn Up After The Shine Wears Off
Most new parents are completely overwhelmed in the first two weeks after birth. Everyone wants to see the new baby and will rush over in the first weeks to help out.
Then life starts to return to normal. Her partner will likely return to work. People tend to drift away a bit, and go back to their own concerns. The adjustment to having a new baby lasts much longer than two weeks. Show up to help when everyone else might’ve forgotten.
New dads can be a great support too. Find out how in How Dads Can Help New Mothers After Baby’s Birth.