Monday, May 1, 2017

Five Ways to Help a New Mama (and Three Things Not to Say)

Welcome home, baby!  Ahh, postpartum.  I talked about it here too, but those first few days (okay, weeks) after having a baby are quite possibly the craziest time in your life.  And all people want to do is come into your space and hold your baby!  Nothing made me more hormonal and mama bear angry than seeing someone hold my baby in the beginning.  Like, seriously I had to sit on my hands.  My husband and I did a great job (we were well prepared by our midwives and doula!) of making our home a sacred space and didn't allow any visitors right away.  Well, except my mom, who mostly just made food, ran the dishwasher, and did laundry.  But once the visitors are welcomed, here are some ways you can be of service.  

1.  Tell her "YOU'RE DOING A GREAT JOB!" Because she is.  Shower her with compliments.  "I've never seen such a cute baby!" "What a glow-y mama!" The constant thought running her head is "Can I do this?" and a little support can be so affirming.

2.  Bring food. Takeout is good, especially if you know a place she likes.  Don't text a bunch of questions, just bring something wholesome (something like fruit or good chocolate would be amazing!) Energy bites are perfect for eating one handed- and good for nursing!  Even better would be dropping it at the door and texting Dad that it's there.  Don't ring the doorbell! 

3.  Ask her if she wants to talk about the birth.   All the focus is on the baby, and this HUGE, HUMONGOUS thing just happened to the mom.  Sometimes it's nice to process it out loud.  Ask her how she's feeling!

4.  Offer to clean while she naps or just snuggles with her babe.  This was my absolute favorite thing my mom did for us- every time she came over, she was doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, or bringing me food.  She'd tell me to go doze with Ophelia, and it made me feel so much better about just laying around.  If you ask what you can do to be helpful, and she can't think of anything, offering to run errands for her would be sweet too. Put gas in her car! If she has older kids, take them to the park while she gets a chance to bond with the new babe. 

5.  Tell her a funny story.  Everything in her world just shifted, and sometimes its nice to escape for a little bit.  I remember when my girlfriends came to visit me and after all the ooohing and ahhing over the baby, one started gossiping about her weird landlord and it felt so good to laugh and not have everything be so intense for a little bit.  Make sure she's got Netflix- and maybe an Us Weekly.  Self care is way important.  

AND if you really do need to hold the baby- wash your hands.  Without the mom asking you to!

PLUS- here are three things not to say: 

"Is he/she a good baby?" - Honestly, what does this even mean?
"Are you sleeping?"- I would seriously be overjoyed if no one ever asked me about me or my child's sleep habits ever again. 
"Does he/she cry a lot?"- What's a lot? Does my baby cry too much? Making the mom stress is all that can come from this question.

I am wearing this top and these shorts in these photos- taken by my talented friend Angela Rose Gonzalez


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