Seven things you can do to help a new mum today
Becoming a new parent is an incredibly exciting and often overwhelming experience. Here’s some ideas on how loved ones can help out.
Flowers, balloons and cute outfits are lovely, but in those first few weeks it’s the practical support that’s often needed most.
There’s also a fine line between being there and being in the way. It’s important to remember every new mum or dad has unique needs and what works for some might not help others.
We’ve spoken to some new parents who’ve told us the most helpful ways loved ones have pitched in for them.
1. Bring food
When you’ve been up and down with the baby all night and day, cooking can seem all too hard. Everything revolves around a precious newborn baby, and it can be easy for new mums and dads to let their own health take a back seat.
Perhaps prepare some nutritious meals that can be frozen and easily reheated. Dropping around fresh fruit or healthy snacks is another good alternative to make sure time-poor parents are eating well throughout the day.
This is particularly important for single parents and those with partners back at work.
When you pop over for a visit, resist the urge to make a bee-line for baby cuddles on the couch and consider popping on a load of washing, stacking the dishwasher or wiping down the benches first.
If you think this may be a little intrusive for your friend or family member, a cleaning voucher as a gift is a nice idea, so they can use it when it suits them.
3. I’m at the shops, do you need a ….?
Some people won’t accept help even if it’s offered over and over. Instead of asking mum or dad if they need anything, try calling from the supermarket or department store and ask about specific items. It’s a subtle difference but when someone feels like they’re not putting anyone out it can be easier to accept the help offered.
Or if you notice your friend is low on detergent, milk or bread, let them know once you’ve dropped some groceries or a little care package at their front door.
4. Be there, but not in the way
Sometimes being bombarded with kind offers of help can feel overwhelming. Take cues from mum or dad or those closest to them on how you can help. Some people find it easier to appoint a ‘spokesperson’ or ‘gatekeeper’ who can offer ideas on when to visit and how to support.
Some people might like you to hold the baby so mum can have a hot shower or catch up on some sleep, while others might prefer space.
While it’s important to check-in to make sure mum and dad are okay, don’t be offended if they choose not to have you around all the time. They need family time too.
The first outing with bub can be really daunting for some parents, particularly for first-time mums and dads. They might feel more comfortable hiding out at home for as long as possible, but it’s good to help them build confidence to get out and about again.
Perhaps you could support mum to venture out by starting with a short walk around the block before moving on to a cafe or trip to the shops.
6. TV shows
Daytime TV doesn’t have the best rep, so why not drop around your favourite TV series for mum and dad to watch while breastfeeding or for the small amount of downtime available?
It might just be something in the background or something they can half watch before falling asleep, but it may provide some comfort and light relief during those first few weeks.
7. A massage voucher
A massage or spa voucher with the offer of babysitting is a nice excuse for new mums to take some time out for themselves.
An hour or two of pampering might be just what mum needs.