It's 9am. You get THEE call. Your sister in law (or best friend, or anyone you love) has just had their baby! You're ecstatic for them. You're thrilled for the whole family. You wonder, "What can I do to make her feel loved and supported? How Can I help make their postpartum period easier? How can I mother the mother?" Well, here are FIVE ways you can help your loved one after they bring their new baby home.
1. Ask if they're ready to have visitors. Better yet, wait to be invited.
Only you know your nearest and dearest and how to read them, but sometimes after a baby enters their lives, they aren't quite the same. Sometimes they want to be alone for a while to cocoon as a new family unit. Sometimes they want to share their new bundle of joy with the world. Try your best to read their cues and only come over when they are feeling up to having visitors.
2. Anticipate the new family's needs.
So this can get a little tricky. Try to think what makes you feel better when you're not 100%. No matter what type of delivery the new parents had, they will most likely be tired and running a lot of endorphins. They will likely need a little help around the house, and possibly a meal.
What can you do? When you come over, wash your hands then ask if they have eaten in the last 3 hours. If the answer is no, make them a snack. If the answer is yes, make them a snack. No seriously, snacks always win. If they really don't want to eat, make them a drink.
Now what? Go to the kitchen and do the dishes. Simple as that. If they have a dishwasher, check it. Clean? Empty it. Dirty? Run it. You get the idea. Now, go see if they need a load of laundry washed or folded. Then go take out the trash (and wash your hands again for the next one).
3. Wait to be asked to hold the baby.
I know I know I know! You can't wait to smell that delicious baby head. It IS intoxicating. I get it. What the baby needs is it's parents. What the parents need is you to help them meet the needs of their new baby.
Now, this is not to say that you can't hold the baby, but it may not be as soon as you walk in the door. Chances are, if they invited visitors over, they want to show that gorgeous new wee one off. Just try to be patient and wait to be asked if you'd like to hold their sweet babe. While you do, ask them if they'd like to take a nap or a shower. They MAY just take you up on it.
4. Be on your way sooner than later.
New parents are tired (remember from above?). Even if you are doing your very best to be helpful and out of their way, it's not the same when there are others in your space. Try to be mindful of that. It's easy to just sit and hang out and treat this as any other visit. It might feel that way for you, but it won't for them. Trust me.
That said, offer to run an errand before you go. A trip to the grocery for some milk and eggs for tomorrow's breakfast is a godsend to new parents trying to get the hang of their evolving schedule. You could drop off their mail, maybe they have some thank you cards from the baby shower to send out. Offer to do a coffee run! That will win you extra extra points (at least in my book LOL).
5. Tell them that you are going to call to check in tomorrow, and do it. (or text...probably text!)
There might be times when new moms or dads need help but don't know how to ask, or don't want to be a bother. Try to head that off by being there for them to talk to before they need it. If you have children of your own, try not to offer "advice", but rather...be a nonjudgmental shoulder to lead on and and open ear and heart to vent to. They will need it at some point. Probably...and if not, then at least they knew you were there and you cared.
That's really the point of all of this right?
The whole reason you are excited to be with your loved one is because you CARE about them. Having you there to mother the mother, making sure they feel loved and cared for is of the utmost importance when it comes to the immediate postpartum experience. Feeling supported and loved, with tangible ways to seek out assistance, can make a world of difference. I'm so glad they have you!
Resources for mothering the mother and the postpartum period: