I'm in that phase of life where friends are constantly announcing a pregnancy. There was a short recent stretch where we attended six weddings a year, and on the heels of that, we now attend dozens of baby showers a year. So many babies, and with them, so many new moms that I'd like to care for and help.
In trying to reach out to my friends, it helps to remember back to those first weeks with my own son, seemingly so long ago. There were many different ways that my friends checked in and helped out, each one, a happy memory not just of that early time, but of the friendships that carried me through it.
- Meals. Perhaps the best known and most popular way to care for a new family is to deliver them a ready-made meal. I love this tradition, of course, as those first weeks leave little extra energy to make something hearty and healthy. There are even websites and meal delivery programs that make this process faster and easier. But, if you're not keen on cooking a full meal, fruits and vegetables chopped into bite-size snacks are a welcome treat to new moms, short on time and craving something fresh.
- Stop in for an hour so mom can nap (or shower). Babysitting a newborn can be a demanding task, but often parents don't need to be completely separate from the baby in order to savor some rest. Just stop by the house with an armful of magazines, and keep an eye on the little one so mom can take a quick breather. This was perhaps my favor treat from friends in my first weeks after giving birth.
- Offer to wash the dishes. This one was hard on my housekeeping pride. The entire house was assuredly a mess in the first days that we adjusted to this new person, new sleeping schedule (or lack of sleeping schedule), and new routine. Any friend who is willing to come by and tackle just one area of that mess is a true friend.
- Bring a hot cup of coffee (or tea) and some chat. While entertaining and endearing, babies are also all-consuming. A friendly visit with interesting conversation helped me to feel connected with the outside world.
- Lend clothes. After giving birth, a mom's body will go through all sorts of fluctuations. It was very nice to have a few hand-me-downs to pass around as my body found its way back to a stable place.
- Take her out. Probably my biggest fear in those first few weeks was that life was changing forever. That, along with all of the happy and good new changes, I would need to also embrace some somber ones. I was afraid that my new role as mom would eclipse my role as friend, that I wouldn't have time to go out and enjoy the same places and activities I always had. Friends that insisted I go out for a bite or a short walk in those first weeks home eased those fears, and also offered a respite from the demanding duties of early motherhood.
What other ways can you suggest to help out a new mom?
Liz Moorhead is an English teacher-turned-writer and illustrator. She paints stationery, writes for a top wedding site, and blogs at Happy Sighs between walks to the park with her two boys.