How to support your new mum friend.

5 ways you can show your love & support | Including over 60 practical ideas

Let’s be real for a moment. Postpartum can be rough.

Don’t get me wrong, it is such a beautiful and special season – one that I personally look back at fondly.

But all the amazing highs of welcoming a new baby also come with some really hard lows.

Recovering from physical demands of carrying and birthing a baby takes time.

Your body is figuring out how to survive on broken sleep – which leaves you feeling more tired than you thought was humanly possible.

You’re learning a bunch of new skills on the fly. All while dealing with things like the baby blues, unsolicited advice, engorged & leaky boobs, afterbirth pains, cracked nipples and the worst period of your life… it’s a lot.

If you’re reading this as a mum, I’m sure you can relate.

When my babies were first born I was blessed by some incredible people who offered invaluable support. I also took to my social media to ask my followers for their opinion. They shared some of the help they received, or things they wish people would have done for them during the fourth trimester.

What NOT to do

First of all, let’s quickly chat about some no-no’s

Most of them should go without saying, but I have experienced some of these, as have many other mums so we’re going to say them anyway.

  • Don’t invite yourself over or show up unannounced. Instead, say something along the lines of “Congrats, we would love to visit when you’re up for it”. That said, if you are close enough that a random pop-in isn’t out of the ordinary a text that said “Hey, I’m at the coffee shop near your house, is now a good time to drop you around a coffee and say hi?” might be appreciated.

  • Don’t bring kids to a visit without asking. If you’re popping in and want to bring your kids, make sure to make that clear.

  • Don’t pick up a baby without asking or assume that you’ll get a cuddle when you visit. Some mums would be more than happy for a little arm break, but just make sure to ask.

  • Don’t disregard boundaries. If parents put specific rules or restrictions in place, it’s your job to follow them. Whether this is having certain vaccines before visiting, staying away until a certain time or only visiting for a short time. Their baby, their rules.

  • Don’t visit a newborn if you are sick. This one really should go without saying. Spicy Flu or not, just don’t do it.

  • Don’t wear heavy perfumes or colognes around the baby. Some fragrances can negatively affect newborns more than adults. Plus scent is really important for a baby’s development and attachment, so it’s safer to just avoid wearing perfumes around them.

  • Don’t offer advice unless it’s asked for. Every baby is different and everyone’s experience is different. If they are looking for you to share your wisdom, go right ahead. But receiving advice that you didn’t ask for can sometimes be frustrating or disheartening.

Offer some words of encouragement

Motherhood often comes with a generous serving of self-doubt. You want to do the best possible thing for your child and that can sometimes leave you second guessing yourself.

It’s amazing how a few kind words can make the world of difference (and they don’t cost you a thing).

Here are some fool proof phrases that might make a new mum’s day:

  • You’re doing such an amazing job
  • You look gorgeous
  • I believe in you
  • You’ve got this
  • I’m here if you need someone to talk to
  • Trust your instincts
  • How are you doing?

After you have a baby it sometime feels like people only want to talk about the baby. As a mum, your identity can feel like it is completely wrapped up in your title, rather than who you are.

Taking the time to ask how she is doing can be such a simple, but important way to let her know you care. And you don’t need to wait until you catch up in person, an encouraging text or a note dropped into their mailbox also works.

Offer to help with something practical

When I asked other mum’s on social media, so many of them said they wish they had received more practical support. A few mentioned that even though family and friends had said “let me know if you need anything” they didn’t actually reach out and ask for help.

If you want to offer a helping hand, it could be a good idea to offer a specific task or even a choice of a few options. And you may need to insist that you really mean it so they know it’s not an empty gesture.

Here are a few practical things that you could offer:

  • Food – cook them a meal, organise a meal train amongst their friends, drop over some lactation cookies, stock their fridge with snacks, pay for a meal delivery service or even sort out school lunches for older siblings.

  • Cleaning – Offer to do their dishes, vacuum the floors, chuck on a few loads of washing or pay for a professional cleaner to come over.

  • Babysitting – I personally would have felt awkward about accepting help with cleaning, but I would have loved someone to come over for an hour and look after the baby so that I could catch up on housework, take a shower or have a nap.

  • Taking care of older kids – Offer to take their toddler to the park, have their kids over for a sleepover or look after the school drop off for awhile.

  • Taking care of pets – Offer to walk their dog or pet sit for a week.

  • Ask if she would like a photo of her and the baby, chances are her husband hasn’t taken any good ones.

  • Run errands – Ask if there are any specific tasks you could take off their hands, like picking up something from the shops, collecting their prescriptions from the pharmacy, dropping their car at the mechanic etc

  • Take some of the mental load off – One mum mentioned that she had a baby just before her son’s birthday and a family member offered to organise his birthday party.

Bring a gift

My strongest love language is gifts, so it’s one of the ways I like to show and receive love.

I love giving something tangible that will brighten someone’s day. It’s not about how much you spend, it’s about choosing something that shows you’re thinking of them.

Here are a few gift ideas that a new mum might love to recieve:

  • Body products – A nice hand cream, belly oil, postpartum bath salts or lip balm

  • Treats – A mama tea, lactation cookies, their favourite chocolate or a cup of coffee

  • A new pair of pj’s or slippers

  • Gifts for the baby – you can never have too many nappies or wipes

  • A personalised piece of jewellery with baby’s name, initials, birth date etc

  • A new water bottle to keep her hydrated while breastfeeding

  • A house plant or fresh flowers

  • Money to put towards a bigger purchase that was missed on their baby registry

  • Entertainment for older siblings – this could be something little like colouring books or a quiet activity, or something more significant like a voucher for a day out

  • Pay for a date night – maybe a restaurant voucher and an offer to babysit, or an at-home date like some popcorn, chocolate and a list of your favourite movies on Netflix

  • A voucher for newborn or updated family photos (hint hint 😉)

Please don’t feel like gifts have to be expensive or cost anything at all. When my son was really fresh, a mum friend who is also a midwife let me borrow a hospital grade breast pump. She also gave me so much encouragement and much needed advice throughout my breastfeeding journey, which was a real struggle for us.

Another mum friend gave me a bag of hand-me-down onesies in sizes 000000-00000 when our baby girl was born much smaller than we had expected.

Both of these examples meant so so much to me and really went a long way in making life easier. And they didn’t cost them a single dollar.

Be her community

Even though you are rarely alone, motherhood can sometimes be incredibly lonely.

A lot of mums go from spending their days surrounded by people at work to having only a baby to talk to. We crave adult conversation which sometimes results in us launching into a DNM with the postman…

When my first child was born, most of my friends didn’t have kids yet and weren’t available for a coffee date at 10am on a wednesday when I was in need of some company. I would sometimes wander aimlessly around they shops because I was so sick of being home alone.

Some ways you can offer friendship and community to a new mum:

  • Invite her to your house (or offer to come their house if it’s easier for her)

  • Invite her out for coffee, or a walk around the neighbourhood

  • Offer to meet her at a park with some snacks so her toddler can play and you can chat

  • Invite her to your mum’s groups and help her connect with your other mum friends

  • Ask if she wants someone to go to a class or event with – like mums and bubs pilates, a social night for mums etc. I really hate going somewhere new when I don’t know anyone, and having a friend to go with would be amazing.

Offer support beyond just the first few weeks

Mums that have a really great family support system may not need help during the first few weeks. This is the time that Dad’s are usually on paternity leave, you may be getting visits from midwives and / or your doula and close family members are more likely to be around to help out.

For some mums, the time they need support most is a little later on. When their partner goes back to work, when school holidays start, when their baby starts going through leaps / sleep regressions or teething.

My hope is that every mum finds herself surrounded by an incredibly uplifting village of people that are willing to offer support and encouragement for the long haul. This mum stuff can be hard sometimes – but it’s better when we are there for each other.

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