One of the best, unexpected things I’ve enjoyed as an adult is watching friends become parents.
Some have teenagers and some have two-month-old babies, and it has been a wild ride watching them grow their families and guide those tiny humans through life.
But I’ll be honest. I am fully aware that I’m a much better support to my new mom friends after having my own baby than I was sans kid. As a strong Enneagram 2 who is personally offended if someone doesn’t accept my help, part of me cringes at how little I probably helped friends earlier in adulthood, but you don’t know what you don’t know!
Here are some things I found helpful to me when I was a new mom, or ways I’ve found to support my new mom buddies:
Bring Other Kitchen Things
Bringing food is probably the most common and obvious way that new parents are supported, whether it be through a home cooked meal or ordering delivery. But, I also suggest thinking outside of the typical meals, and restocking friends with fresh cut fruits or veggies, canned goods or freezer meals, and even napkins and paper plates – less dishes for the win!
Offer a Specific Suggestion on How You Can Help
It’s easy to ask a blanket statement: “How can I help?” or “What do you need?” However, it’s often overwhelming just to figure out what out of the 1,000 things weighing on your brain someone can do. I found it wildly helpful when I was a new mom for someone to say something very specific, even if it was the smallest thing. Try: “I’m out and about this afternoon. Can I bring you a drink from Sonic?” or “Is there an evening this week I can come over and fold clothes?” Just being able to say “yes” or “no” makes it so much less stressful. (And, you aren’t accidentally over committing to something.)
Be patient in your friendship
If you ask something via text or voicemail, reiterate that it doesn’t require an urgent response (unless it does). Also recognize that conversation right now is probably going to be a bit one-sided. There’s a chance she will want a mental break to talk about something other than baby stuff (like living vicariously through your previous night at the bar). BUT, there’s an even better chance that your text thread will shift heavily toward all things feeding, sleeping, hormones, etc. She may not ask about you, not because she no longer cares, but because she’s trying to find her own sense of identity in her new role. It’s easier said than done, but aim to not be offended and know it won’t always be this way.
Get Her Out of the House for a Walk
This is beneficial in so many ways. It not only gives her someone to talk to, it provides some physical activity to someone who probably feels like they are a complete stranger to their body. Not to mention, the baby probably will take a great stroller nap, and the fresh air will be good for all.
Or, Just Sit with Her
Although she has a 24/7 new sidekick, it can often feel extremely isolating, especially if she has a partner that has gone back to work during the day. Sometimes just having someone sit with you for an hour to have adult conversation or just be in the presence of someone from the outside world can make a person feel a sense of normalcy again. (But, always ask before stopping by, and don’t overstay your welcome. Read the room.)
Don’t Just Ask About the Baby, Ask About Mom
Because there’s a newcomer to town, we are often inclined to ask all about him or her: who they look like, how they are sleeping and eating, etc. But she has a new identity herself, not to mention just went through a tremendous physical feat. Ask her how SHE is doing.
Ask if you Can Come Over and Sit with the Baby
This tip is applicable if you feel comfortable holding and tending to a newborn. Sometimes the most valuable thing is an hour alone. She can take a long, hot shower, go to Target alone, or just exist without someone needing her.
Keep Advice Limited Unless Asked Questions
I’m 1000% guilty of wanting to throw ALL of my new mom knowledge into other newer moms. (Sorry, friends, if you’re reading and nodding.) Five nuggets of wisdom from 10 friends is probably way more advice than she wants to hear. Just let her know you’re there in case she does want some thoughts.
Rein in Excessive Positivity
Out with the positive vibes only, and in with the “yes, sometimes it just sucks and that’s OK. Try not to continually respond to her hard times with things like “look on the bright side,” or “but this is the best gift ever.” She is well aware that the new baby is a blessing, but sometimes new moms just want to know they are not alone in the struggle side of things: not feeling bonded, feeling overwhelmed, or just wanting to vent without feedback.
If You’re Also a New-ish Mom, Offer to Share your Registry Must Haves and Hospital Packing List
And, do not be offended if they do not want them, or do not buy anything remotely similar.
At the end of the day, do what makes you feel comfortable. The cliché saying “it takes a village” isn’t wrong. Your support, combined with help from others, is so valuable in this new season of life.
If you’re a new mom in the Kansas City area, there are also a ton of great support resources, too!