A new baby can bring so much joy, but also some pretty difficult times, particularly in the first few months. So I’ve put together some small things you can do to make life easier for a new mum. This is not about gifts, but about small acts of kindness. If you’re after gift ideas, read this article for some ideas for gifts other than flowers.
Firstly, ask and never assume! I know this may seem like common sense, but first ask what you can do to help out a new mum. Do not assume you know what she wants. Some mothers want some time to themselves to bond with their newborn during the early stages (the fourth trimester!), so visiting a sleep deprived mother every day when she just wants to be resting may just put you in her bad books! Do not assume she is comfortable with you washing her clothes or cleaning her bedroom without asking first, some people do not like their personal boundaries crossed. Often times people will try to be polite and not express their true feelings, but the least you can do is ask and give her an opportunity to tell you what she really needs. She might politely decline you doing her laundry, but prefer you pick up some groceries for her instead.
2. It’s all about food
Sorry, but it’s mostly around food, glorious food! Don't go to a new mums’ house empty handed, without some sort of food. If you are popping by in the morning, be sure to check with the mum first to ensure the time doesn’t clash with her sleeping plans. A hot coffee (or decaf coffee), along with some breakfast would be suitable for a morning visit. Dropping off some home cooked meals will earn you heaps of brownie points. New mums are often so exhausted, especially when breastfeeding, they often find themselves wanting to catch up on sleep rather than preparing a meal. Meals that can be frozen are a godsend, things like soups or lasagne.
3. Offer to do the school run
Doing the school run can be particularly challenging with a newborn and in winter when the weather is cold. In the event that the mother has older children, offering to drive the children to and from school or day care will be a godsend.
4. Run errands
Offer to run errands for her. Often with a newborn, it can be a struggle to do day-to-day tasks in a timely fashion, especially when it is raining and cold. Things like: getting some groceries, going to the post office, filling her car up with petrol, picking up dry cleaning and taking the car to get serviced or washed.
5. Go shopping with her
Shopping with a baby can be particularly challenging when you want to try on clothes, or get your eyebrows waxed. So offering to go with her to keep an eye on the baby will show how much of a great friend you are.
6. Check in on her and listen
Post-natal depression is real for a lot of mums out there, so checking in on her to see if she is okay is something simple you can do. Whether over the phone, via text message, or popping by for a quick 15-minute visit (checking with her first of course, and never overstay your welcome). The best thing you can do is listen.
7. Never overstay your welcome
Sorry guys but no matter how comfortable the mother makes you feel at her house, do not overstay your welcome. In the early weeks, a one-hour visit is more than enough, and do not bring your whole family if you can avoid it. The last thing a new mum needs to do is entertain a group of people. Also, try not to visit during meal times like lunch or dinner.
8. Offer to do house chores
Offering to help out with house chores will also earn you heaps of brownie points. Things like: gardening, vacuuming, mopping, laundry, ironing, washing the dishes, emptying the dishwasher or even making her a hot cup of tea.
9. Offer to look after the baby or other kids
Often new mums put their baby’s needs above their own, this means that having a warm shower, or slowly eating a full meal, is often not a priority. Offering to hold the baby while mum has a shower or nap is a small thing you can do that can really help out a new mum. Also if she has older kids, taking them out for the day so she can have some time alone with her newborn would probably make her day.
Breastfeeding mothers often find themselves up at all hours of the night, often nursing for hours on end. You could give her a box set of a television series you know she loves.
11. Thank You notes
Ask if she needs help with the Thank You notes. Most new mums receive a lot of gifts and kind gestures, and she’s probably behind schedule on formally sending them out. You can help with writing them and/or posting them.
12. Help with her to-do list
Everything from buying nappies or groceries online to making phone appointments is something you can help with while you’re there, either by holding the baby while she handles things, or just doing them for her.
13. Be positive
Always be positive and encouraging. Do not make judgmental comments about her parenting or share stories on how you did things back in your day. Do not comment about her weight or ask why she is breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Just tell her she is doing a great job.