Calling all friends and family of new (and soon-to-be) mamas! Whether you’re a mama yourself or not, we all know that having a newborn is nothing short of hectic. And, we all want to help.
Did you make the diaper cake for the baby shower? Gave them every item of tiny clothing they could possibly need? Purged their registry? Speaking as a mama of two, thank God for you. But, what if I told you that none of the best gifts are on a registry — or even able to wrap in a pretty bow?
Thanks to the selfless, knowledgeable Safe in the Seat community, here are the Top 8 new mama needs — created by mamas, for friends and family of new mamas looking for the best way to support.
- Arm her with experts
Outside food and groceries, a new mama doesn’t need new stuff to put away, flowers to change the water for or new baby clothes to wash. She wants answers on how to do this parenting thing the best she can, from real parenting and child safety experts (or just pros to do things for her). Think lactation consultant, house-cleaning service, errand runner, car seat safety consultant, etc.
- Food, food, food
Sometimes we forget that having a baby is literally a surgical procedure. Our new mamas are both recovering and expected to be everything for baby at the same time. On average, newborns nurse 8–12 times a day for the first month — and that’s where you come in to help feed everyone else.
Bring lunch for her. Bring a frozen crockpot meal for her partner and other kids. Drop off her favorite snacks. (Most loved ones bring full meals; it’s much easier to grab a quick breakfast or snack in busy new mama land!) If there’s a cooler on the porch, all food items can go right inside. And, don’t ask what they want; just tell her you’re bringing it.
- Be an in-house task tackler
On top of being baby feeding central, the first six weeks postpartum are considered a “recovery period” for all new mamas. (I don’t know about you, but mine was much longer than six weeks.) And, one of the best ways to allow room for this recovery period is to scoop up your new mama’s in-house to-do list.
Think laundry (washing, folding and putting away), all things dishes, scrubbing out those little baby bottles — literally anything you can do around the house. Plus, if you brought food over, clean up after feeding all hungry mouths in the house.
- Make an extra run to the grocery store
Mamas can’t run a house like a well-oiled machine without supplies, especially new mamas. (Truth: It never runs like a well-oiled machine, no matter how hard we try.) Plus, this one is even better if you’re already planning to go.
Does she need toilet paper or sandwich bags? Pads? Dermoplast? Probably. Try, “I’m hitting up the grocery store on my way over tomorrow. Send me your top 10!” And, everyone’s favorite, “What would you like from Starbucks?” Again, no yes/no questions. We take necessities for granted, but there’s also nothing like a cup of joy to make a new mama’s day.
- Help out with older kids (including the furry ones!)
Not your new mama’s first rodeo? Then the littlest one won’t be the only one who needs her. Or throws a tantrum. Or has to go for a walk. This one is fun; you get to hang out with the older kids!
Snag them all for a day of adventure. You can go to the park, a painting class, or just take a few laps around the neighborhood. Your new mama will appreciate the uninterrupted 1-on-1 time she has with baby — and the extra room to breathe.
- Give mama some time for self-care
Time is an awesome gift, especially when it’s 100% uninterrupted alone time. As mamas, we want to give and give as much as we can to our little ones until we have nothing left for ourselves — as new mamas, we have to. And, we can’t give from a nonexistent supply.
Say you’ll be over in a bit to hold the baby so mama can take a 15-minute power nap. Or shower. Or scarf down a quick bite of something healing. (Or all three.) Say, “Don’t worry, I got this. I’ll come get you if something is wrong.” Think of how you feel after a long vacation. This is the mini version of that.
- Allow for open, honest conversation around mental health
This is a big one — one most of the world still struggles with, mama or not. When there’s a new baby, that’s everyone’s main focus. “How’s the little one? What do they need? Send more pictures!” But, we forget there’s a remarkable, exhausted mama making that baby’s joy happen.
First, ask her, “How are you feeling?” Create a safe, no-judgment zone for her to answer that question honestly. If you’re a mama yourself, let her know that everything she’s thinking and feeling is 100% normal. Share a bit of your experience to help her understand she’s not alone. And, if you have the mental space for it, tell her you have a wide-open door for her whenever she needs one. (Truth: It’s okay if you don’t. It’s so, so appreciated if you do.)
- Just be present for her — and know when it’s time to go
If your new mama doesn’t need to talk, she might just need someone to be there with her and baby. Run errands with them, French braid mama’s hair to keep it out of her face and let her know that it’s OK to tell you what she needs when she needs it — including when she wants to be alone with her little one again.
As much as you love little babes, when you’re visiting, consider staying only 20 minutes. 30, maybe. Like I said, recovering includes having space to breathe, and having space to breathe from visitors is part of that! And, ask if you can hold the little one first, before reaching out for them. Not every baby wants to be handed from mama to a stranger.
OK, friends and family of new mamas, you’re ready. Once the baby showers have passed and the little has made their entrance, go be the best gift-giver you’ve ever been.