How to Support Postpartum Moms
"accept help. whenever anyone offers it, even if you don't think you need it."
if there is anything the last year and a half of being a mom has taught me, is that it truly does take a village.
when I was pregnant with my son, people kept telling me this, but I didn't fully understand.. looking back, there are a few ways that my friends and family supported me that helped me and my husband transition to parenthood tremendously. so much advice is given throughout pregnancy, whether wanted or unwanted. most of it is how to take care of your newborn. but i truly think the best advice given to me by a coworker was how to take care of myself.
as a new mom, it's so hard to accept help. it's also so hard to get up off the couch and cook a meal or clean your house or do the laundry when your body is healing and you just want hold your new baby. i've asked my clients and friends and family what the most helpful things were for their postpartum period, and these are the top answers!
- MEAL TRAINS. Having your friends and family set up a meal train for you is one of the best ways to help relieve stress in the postpartum period. Meal train sites, such as mealtrain.com, allow you to send the meal train to friends near and far. Your friends can sign up to deliver a fresh meal to your home, or to donate towards a giftcard for Doordash or Ubereats. You can also pick what days and times you want food dropped off, and have the option to say that you aren't taking visitors. This helps you feel like you aren't "hosting" people when you have a newborn!
- HELPING WITH HOUSEHOLD CHORES. If your friend just gave birth, one of the most helpful things to do is to text her and say "Hey I'd love to come help do laundry, (vaccuum, dishes, etc) what day works for you?" This sets the expectation that you as a friend are coming over to help mom, not to just hold her newborn. I know it's so tempting to go over and just want to hold their new baby, but really, mom needs that time to bond! (if you're a mom and your friend asks if you'd like help, say "Yes! I'd love if you helped with XYZ. " Same for family. My friend had a rule that if you came over to meet the baby, you also had to help with one thing around the house. and no, it's not bossy to ask for help! As a new mom, its tempting to show that we can do it all. But truly, accepting help, even if that help is your friend or MIL holding your baby so you can nap or shower, is life-giving.
- HELPING WITH OLDER SIBLINGS. Offer to take your friend's older kids to the park or local children's museum. Juggling the addition of new siblings is a transition for everyone, not just mom and dad. Knowing their friends and family are there to help love on their other kids during a big transition is so comforting and helpful. It also helps new big siblings to feel like they are loved, valued, and not forgotten in their new role.
I hope these ideas are helpful! I know that as a new mom, saying yes to someone offering help, or offering to help a new mom can be intimidating. But I promise that having help of any kind is important and special!