Chances are, after you actually have a baby, a lot of your ideas on parenting will change. Among those things is how to be of help to a new mom, what to say to her, and what to do to make her life a little easier.
Oh, and, what NOT to say.
What to Do
If you’ve been invited to visit the family in the hospital, call and ask Dad when it will be a good time to visit. Then, an hour or so before time to arrive, send him a text, ask if it’s still a good time and what you can bring them to eat or drink.
Wait for Mom to invite you to hold her baby. She may not be ready to give her up just yet. Maybe she wants her to sleep undisturbed. Maybe she doesn’t want to pass her around for whatever reason. Maybe she’s eyeing you, waiting for you to wash your hands. If some time goes by and Mom doesn’t offer to hand her over, then it’s probably okay to show her that you’d like to hold the baby by saying something like, She’s so beautiful. I’d love to get my hands on her when you’re ready. If Mom ignores or avoids your statement, leave it alone. For whatever reason, she doesn’t want you to hold her baby right now. Be okay with that. It’s (probably) not personal.
Wash and sanitize your hands before touching her baby. Don’t make her ask you to wash your hands; it’s uncomfortable. Just do it yourself and make sure she knows that you have.
Prepare a few meals in advance, freeze them, and bring them over to leave in her freezer.
Bring dinner for the family, clean out the dishwasher, offer to watch the baby while she takes a shower or naps, bring a basket of snacky items, etc. Just be helpful.
If you want to bring a gift for the baby, consider checking their baby registry to see if there are any lingering items that have yet to be purchased.
What to Say
You’re doing a great job! Chances are, Mom is feeling tired, overwhelmed and emotional. Tell her she’s doing a good job! And on top of that, pick out one specific thing that you’re truly impressed with/admire and point that one thing out to her.
Along the same lines, You’re a really good mom. It’s the best compliment you can pay a mom. Ever.
What a beautiful baby! Let me tell you, a genuine compliment about my child will get you further in my good graces than a glass of wine. And that’s saying a lot.
It will get better. Your baby won’t always cry. He will sleep through the night. He won’t always need to nurse every 2 hours. He will stop spitting up all over the place. He will eventually stop teething. The temper tantrums will stop. No phase is forever. You will learn how to balance your time better. There will come a day when it takes you less than 2 hours to leave the house. The days are long, but the years are, indeed, short. That doesn’t mean you have to cherish every moment, but just know that it does get better.
What NOT to Do or Say
Let me know if you need anything. That’s tough because it puts Mom in the position of having to call you and ask for a favor. Instead, say I’m going to bring dinner tomorrow. What would you like? or I’m at Publix. What do you need? or I’m going to do your laundry. Is that okay? or Where’s your vacuum cleaner?
Don’t stay too long. Go, bring dinner, help her out around the house, watch the baby for a bit so Mom can shower or take a nap–but then get out. Don’t cross the line between helping and becoming a guest. She doesn’t need to feel like she has to entertain you.
Sleep when the baby sleeps. That’s a great idea! So are you going to be the one to come prepare the meals, clean the house, take care of the other kids, or whatever else it is that she needs to accomplish in order to feel sane?
He’s so small! Since many people equate size with health, this type of comment can worry a new mom. The mom who thought her baby was just perfect may now look at him and start to wonder if something is wrong with him. Is he eating enough? Am I producing enough milk? Should I wake him to feed him more often? Instead, He’s so beautiful and has the most perfect _____! is always a good thing to say.
Isn’t motherhood the best thing ever? Motherhood is awesome. Most of the time. But sometimes it sucks. Please don’t make Mom feel guilty for sometimes wondering if she made a colossal mistake. Of course she loves her baby, but sometimes she’s exhausted and leaking milk everywhere and everybody is annoying the hell out of her and she’d like to run away. Maybe try, When you feel like leaving your husband and child and running off to Tahiti, you know you can call me so I can babysit while you get a pedicure, right?
Don’t give advice unless she asks for it.
Are you going to have more? Holy Jesus. At least let her episiotomy stitches heal first.
Need me to email this to somebody for you or for a friend? Just say the word and I’ll send it anonymously!
- 5 Things Not To Say To A NICU Mom (lifeinneverland.wordpress.com)