Ways to help a new mom

Our first baby

Our first baby was born during my last semester of college.  I had to go back to school when she was just ten days old.  I was able to bring her to class with me, so it wasn’t all that bad.  But that first morning, as I was trying to shower and get ready to go, all she wanted to do was nurse.  Finally, in tears I called my mom asking her to come help me get ready to go.  She did.  And finally I made it out the door to class.

Whether a couple adds to their family by birth or adoption, there’s always an adjustment period, a time when the family needs to find their way  to a new normal.  During that time, those of us who care about them are often eager to help out.  But what are some of the best ways to do it? I’ll share some ideas that I think are helpful, and I hope that you also will comment below and share what others did that you found most helpful when you were adding new children to your family.

1. VISIT GRACIOUSLY.  Wait awhile before visiting and keep visits very short.  Even if you tell a momma not to clean up the house or get dressed, having company very soon after a new child’s arrival can be stressful and tiring.  Bonus points if you stick a load of laundry in and do a few dishes before you leave.

2. FEED THE FAMILY.  Bring food in disposable containers.  If you’re not sure of your cooking abilities, Pizza Hut gift certificates are awesome.  Do check for food allergies and family preferences. Bonus points if you add a stack of paper plates to relieve the family of dish duty for a few days.

3.  OFFER TAXI SERVICE.  If you have a comfortable relationship with the other children in the family, offer to run them to sports practices, pick them up after school, or take them to the park for an hour or two.  Bonus points if you ask the new parents what they need at the grocery store while you’re coming to their house anyway.

AmandaAscher4. ENCOURAGE HER TO COCOON.  As much as you love visiting with your new-momma friend, she may not have the energy to be out and about visiting and running errands for awhile.  Especially in the case of a difficult delivery, or a newly adopted baby, it will probably benefit everyone to stick really close to home for awhile.  Later will be soon enough to rejoin the larger world and be social again.  Be the kind of friend who encourages and respects that time of quiet.

What did friends and family do that most helped after you added to your family?

{ 15 Comments }

  1. Mary, I just had my fifth a month ago. The ladies in my prayer group gave me one of the best post-baby gifts I have ever received – grocery delivery for three weeks!! I emailed them my grocery list and they dropped them off at my door (along with the receipt so I could reimburse them, of course!) I’m sure you can imagine how wonderful this was to me and how deeply grateful I was for those friends and their gesture. I will always remember this for when a friend of mine is home with a new baby – it’s a perfect way to help her “cocoon” AND help her feed her family at the same time!

  2. Food, Food, and more Food but church body was smart; they waited until baby was about three months old and then brought over main meal for the family for the next three months.
    We as a church body have learned that there are co-workers, neighbors, relatives who are more than willing to help out the first few months but after that things kind of disappear but that is when the new mama is no longer operating on a ‘high’ and really needs help.
    Also a very dear friend came over a couple times during the week and visited with me for a few minutes and then I would go and take a bath or shower and spend a very relaxed time to myself while she watched the baby. It was absolutely heaven to take a bath and not worry about anything!

  3. Mary,
    When I was pregnant with my fifth child, I was put on bed rest. The ladies from my Bible study came by to clean my house, do my laundry, brought meals, bought groceries, bought clothes for a kiddo that went through a growth spurt and took my toddler on “outings”. In addition, because it was Christmas, I had ladies volunteer to do my Christmas shopping and all of my wrapping too! WOW. After the baby was born, (early) on Christmas’s Eve’s Eve — my family was in town to do all we needed. FAMILY did all the cooking cleaning etc. for the holidays…I sat by the tree and played with my kids and my newborn. After Christmas settled down, I was gung ho to do it ALL by myself. :-) What an amazing act of friendship/generosity we experienced!

  4. The friend who took our first son while our second was born cleaned our house for us. It was so wonderful to come home to a tidy house, especially since we don’t have family nearby and had to rely solely upon church friends.

  5. We have ten. One of my close friends always offers, “Would you like me to bring dinner or do you want to come to my house for dinner?” I know this violates the “let new mama cocoon” thing, but my answer is always, “YOUR HOUSE!!!!” It is so fun to be pampered somewhere that my other children can play loudly with her kids, run outside, etc. And it is SO refreshing to me.

    So now I always say to new mothers, “Would you like to bring dinner or do you want to come to my house?” And so far, everyone has wanted to come here!

  6. I only had one child, and he’s 19 now, so I don’t have any great suggestions. However, this really caught my attention: “Our first baby was born during my last semester of college. I had to go back to school when she was just ten days old. I was able to bring her to class with me, so it wasn’t all that bad.” I had the EXACT same situation. He was born on Friday, and classes started the Monday a week later. He was 3 weeks early, though, so it actually worked out better that he was born then rather than me having to miss school later. My hub’s family all lived out of town, and my family wasn’t even in the same country. His mom dropped everything and came to stay for a week (and put the crib together), then we managed on our own for the next few weeks, then my mom came to stay for a month. (she had non-changeable plane tickets so she couldn’t adjust to the change of birth arrival) He was a really good baby, too, so I only had to leave a class once due to him being fussy. That was a challenging semester…

  7. My 4th was born the day of my kids program at school. This was significant to me because it was their FIRST program and we had been talking about it for months….they were SO excited to have me there. Well, my water broke 2 hours before I was supposed to be there cheering them on. SO, when anyone asked what they could do I would tell them to go make my others feel loved and give them lots of attention. This took away the mommy guilt I felt for needing to just be with baby (and focus on getting her out). In addition to the school program it was wonderful to have people come over and do a craft, game, play, read to, etc. the other 3…..let me rest with baby and just be by myself knowing the others were happy and not lacking attention.

  8. Jess Guest says:

    We only got “help” with one of our babies (we have 7) due to family with poor health/living out of town. When we did get help, it was because our baby was sick and DH was on his own as I was interstate – for 2 months! People from our little town and even a church we used to attend before we moved rallied around. They bought cake…..and cake….and cake. At one point he had no clear space on the kitchen benches because of all the cake! And our kids don’t like cake. A handful of others gave lasagnes. So he had more cake than you can poke a stick at and a freezer full of lasagne. We like lasagne, but are limits! It was well intentioned but I have to say, at times it was heartbreaking when we were already pushed beyond our limits to have “help” that just wasn’t helpful. When I am bringing food to a family now, I bring a salad (big one if it is for a family) so they can have something fresh to go with all those frozen meals, a pot of soup that can be eaten straight away or frozen depending of what the family needs, a huge batch of muffins (snack, breakfast, lunchbox fillers for those sending kids/husband off each day) which can be frozen as well, some sort of savoury and/or just a special treat like a carton of nice icecream or box of chocolates. I have since had a dear lady at our church offer to take baskets of dirty laundry and return them clean and folded (our special needs kiddo is still very hands on so we appreciate the support) and when she is able, it is a Godsend.

  9. My sister-in-law came a week after we had our 4th. Our other kids were school age and had to be driven to school daily. She completely took over with the older kids & spoiled them a bit (they still talk about how great it was). She also would get up when I did those late night feedings with the baby & take him when he didn’t want to sleep after I had fed him so I could get some sleep – bless her! It was amazing.

  10. My sister-in -law sent me a subscription to the “Mothering” magazine. Oh what a delightful gift. It encouraged me to follow my instincts rather than doctors and I could read when I had a (rare) spare minute.

  11. Two of my very dear friends hired their house cleaner to come and clean my house for 3 weeks after I had my 3rd baby!!! I will never, never forget that.
    Also, when we adopted our 4th, we had to move right after bringing her home. On the day of the move, 3 different families showed up to be helpful with the older 3 kids. One friend came and took the kids to breakfast and the park. One family took the older kids swimming and fed them lunch. And one single lady came and took the kids to a movie and dinner that night. It helped my husband to be able to focus on the move, and it helped me to be able to make sure that my newly adopted 11 month old felt secure and at ease with another transition.
    I’m so thankful for the body of Christ and what a joy it is to serve each other in times like this!

  12. We just had our tenth child, and have been blessed with meals the whole three weeks since her birth. I have been very appreciative of the diaper gifts and simple breakfasts that accompanied dinners. I will second your suggestions Mary to ask what they need from the grocery store, to offer to shuttle older children, and to bring disposable dishes.

    We received mostly pasta and salad for the last three weeks, which we were really thankful for, but those meals that WEREN’T pasta or salad were especially relished!

    I didn’t really appreciate people stopping in to visit more than a minute or two, but some ladies might like a visit. One day we had 6 different visits, and another we had 7, which really wore out introverted me. I have appreciated some who have just dropped off my children and left (rather than coming in to visit) and who have come in, dropped off dinner, oohed and ahed at the baby then insisted that they needed to fly.

    Two ladies came together with children and came in to see the baby, then stayed and let the children play, then it was lunch time and I felt like I should invite them to stay for lunch. That was a little difficult at 6 days postpartum, though we did have nice fellowship. Another friend came 5 days postpartum and stayed the whole morning, which was a little difficult for me.

  13. I had a couple of friends prepare a huge sack full of healthy snacks for a nursing mom. Things like almonds and yogurt covered raisins and healthy crackers etc… It was my fourth baby, others brought meals, but those snacks were so wonderful. I don’t know about you but when hunger strikes when I am nursing I need something to munch just to be able to make a meal. They knew it would be the just right thing and I was so grateful. It was also their love and care that came with their gift that made it wonderful.

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