Hi guys. It’s Tamara!
My son is 18 months old now, and lately, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on the earliest months and weeks of his life. Man, those first few weeks are CRAZY! I had a wonderfully supportive husband, but I still wish I could go back in time and tell him these 7 ways to support a new Mom.
1. New Moms cry because HORMONES.
It’s not unusual for a new Mom to start crying on Day 2/3 postpartum and then to continue crying at the drop of a hat for a couple of weeks following. She may also be irritable and have trouble sleeping.
These are called ‘Baby Blues’ and are very common. It is reported that up to 70% of new Moms experience it.
It’s all thanks to the brand new hormones that are surging through her body and throwing everything out of whack. Being totally, completely, and utterly sleep deprived and overwhelmed doesn’t help things either! One of the best ways to support a new Mom is by being patient and understanding while she navigates these waters.
In most cases, Baby Blues will pass in about 2 weeks. However, if things persist beyond a couple of weeks, or you ever suspect that she may be suffering from something more severe, like PPD or PPA, please talk to a medical professional and advocate on her behalf.
2. She feels like a stranger in her own body and everything hurts.
It is obvious that growing and giving birth to a human being is rather taxing on the female body. However, what is less obvious are all the ways things change after that baby comes out. These (usually short-term) changes can be surprising and not exactly pleasant.
Swelling of nether-regions, engorged breasts, perhaps she has a cesarean incision or an episiotomy that needs to heal.
Overall, her body will feel foreign, sore, and a bit deflated.
If you’re looking for ways to support a new Mom, be empathetic and attentive, massage the parts of her body that aren’t too sore to be massaged, offer to paint her toenails, and keep on top of her ibuprofen schedule.
3. Bring her food.
Labour and delivery takes a lot out of a woman. Many women are ravenous in the days after labour as their body scrambles to replace all the calories that were burned during the marathon of bringing a baby into this world.
If the new Momma is breastfeeding, she will be burning extra calories to make milk for that beautiful babe.
Keep her nest on the couch, chair, or bed well stocked with healthy, tasty snacks (and maybe the odd unhealthy thing too. That woman has earned a bowl of ice-cream!)
If she is in the early days of breastfeeding, eating things like barley, oatmeal, apricots, and fenugreek are known to boost breast milk production.
4. You need to be the Hand Washing Police.
It’s unrealistic to expect a new Mom, from her spot on the couch with her still-tender bottom/belly/body, to keep track of whether or not every person who comes into the house has washed their hands.
The non-birth-giving parent in the house should take on this responsibility by gently reminding everyone to comes into the house to please wash their hands before touching baby. Keep your hand washing area well stocked with soap & fresh towels.
And it goes without saying, that this parent should also be turning away anyone who comes to the house with so much as a cough or sniffle. RSV in newborns is no joke!
5. Take photos of her and the baby without her having to ask.
The #1 regret I have about my son’s earliest weeks is not having many photos of he and I together.
There are a few selfies that I took with my phone, and maybe one or two that I insisted my husband take with my camera. Those itty-bitty-early-days go by so fast, and babies morph from tiny newborns into plump, bouncing babies overnight.
Please pick up a camera or your phone and take photos of that gorgeous new Momma and her perfect babe. If she protests, remind her of how precious, and fleeting these moments are and take the photo anyway! She will thank you later, I promise.
6. Don’t fight with her even if she really seems keen to fight.
As mentioned in Point #1, hormone fluctuations and sleep deprivation can make new Moms behave in downright wacky ways.
Now is not the time to argue with your partner. If she is suddenly picky about how the rug is vacuumed, or how her steak is cooked, just smile, nod, and oblige her.
A one month grace period to be a bit high maintenance should be a given for all new Moms.
7. Let her hear you tell OTHER people that she is doing a good job.
For many new moms, self-doubt is a constant battle. Are we doing things right? Are we the mother than this baby deserves? Am I meeting everyone else’s expectations of me?
When my son was about 1 week old, I overheard my husband on the phone with his Mother. I don’t know what his Mom said on her end of the line, but my husband responded, “I know! I can’t wait for you to see what a great Mom she is.”
He had told me himself quite a few times how great he thought I was doing, but for whatever reason hearing him tell someone else it filled me with a pride and gratitude that I can not quite express.
Talk positively about the new mom in your life to other people, and let her hear you do it, even if it’s just on social media.
What are some other ways to support a new Mom?