Moms tend to take on the care and nurturing of everyone around us. Especially during the postpartum time, we need someone to care for and nurture us! When a friend had a new baby, I used to walk into her house and think, I want to be helpful, but what do I do? Through my postpartum doula work, it has become second nature to make a quick scan of everything that’s going on and identify where she needs help right away!
My personal top five are:
- If she’s nursing or holding the baby, is she comfortable, with her body supported by pillows so her arms, shoulders, and back are not straining?
- Does she have a healthy snack and beverage within reach?
- Scanning the kitchen — can I do something simple like load or unload the dishwasher, or wash any baby bottle or breast pump supplies that may be needed quickly?
- Give her some love and appreciation! A hug, a compliment, an acknowledgement of her work and efforts, an appreciation of her just for who she is, a thank you — these all mean so much in different ways whether they come from a doula, a partner, a sister, a parent. A few kind words or a simple squeeze of her hand can send a strong message of love and support.
- And if I can’t be there in person — call her to ask how she’s feeling, to listen to her, and to express love and support. She may not be able to get to the phone or to talk much, but hearing your voice, a voice message, or even your words in an email can mean so much.
Giving and accepting help can be difficult in our culture, but it is a wonderful feeling when your relationship with a friend or partner includes real unconditional help and support. You can make such a big difference for a new mom and it feels so good, to both of you!
Here are a few more resources with ideas for offering support to a mom and her baby, directed towards partners but useful for other close friends and family, too.
From Postpartum Support International, some quick tips and a great article on how partners can support moms with postpartum depression or anxiety. Many of the suggestions can be helpful for postpartum emotions overall.
A handout, below, from our neighborhood parenting center, Natural Resources. (My daughter added the scribbles.)