There are some things people just say because it’s polite, but don’t really think it through or have any intention of doing it. Don’t be that person. Here are five ways to be a good friend, or sister, to a new mommy.
1. Don’t just offer to help
If you offer to help, your heart’s definitely in the right place. Please then actually help. I know you may be waiting for her to take you up on your offer by calling or messaging you to. But giving birth is overwhelming and takes a toll on you physically and mentally. For a long while, she probably won’t even know what day of the week it is. So, make things easy for her and just do.
How? Take things off her plate. The more the better; it’ll make a ton of difference. Mundane ‘little’ things still need to get done; do her grocery shop, take baby off her hands or run a couple of errands. Just because she had a baby doesn’t mean all of her responsibilities have magically vanished. And, unfortunately, her hubby will probably only get the standard few days’ paternity leave and have a ton of other things to handle himself.
2. Let her rest
Visiting the baby is all good and well and is much appreciated. What’s even more appreciated, however, is if you let the new mama rest while you’re there. If you have a couple of hours or even just one, go over to the house and while you’re ogling the baby, let mommy take a nap. I’ve seen it myself, where guests still expect to be hosted in a way while they’re visiting mommy and baby. If you’re around when that happens, let mama rest and take over the hosting for a bit. Make the guests a cuppa or grab some easy snacks for them. If she’s your friend, you probably have an idea of where key things are in the kitchen anyways.
3. Tidy up
A lot of household chores are still left to the woman of the house. Even after giving birth, there may be quite a few tasks for her to do in-between recovering, especially if she doesn’t live near family or have a regular domestic. I’m hoping that your friend has a husband who can lend a hand but let’s face it, many still don’t or don’t do it properly.
“Instead of buying another pack of cute onesies for her baby shower, try to give something for herself.”
Put a load of laundry in, wash some dishes or iron. The golden one? Cook! I had no idea how much I’d appreciate my mom and mother-in-law making us food and freezing it so we had a supply to eat for a couple of weeks. It takes up time and energy your friend is so scarce on, but she’s got to eat! Even if you don’t or can’t cook, no one will turn away a pre-cooked meal or healthy takeaway – I know I didn’t. So much goes on in a day with a newborn and breastfeeding can make you ravenous. This is a lifesaver – literally.
4. Spoil her
A lot of the time people forget the mommy at a baby shower. Of course, the whole point is to help by showering her with gifts for her baby, but she’s probably feeling fat, ugly and sweaty. So, instead of buying another pack of cute onesies for her baby shower, try to give something for herself. I recently gave a friend her requested baby registry gift and added a little pamper hamper with nice smelling bath salts, lotions, etc. just for her.
After having a baby, you may feel so run down and a little treat for yourself is much needed – and there is less guilt when someone else gets it for you. I received a lot of presents for my two (yes, two!) baby showers but the one that really touched me and made me cry – a Sorbet voucher! And boy did I cash that in as soon as I could leave the house for a couple of hours. I’m paying that forward and getting something for both baby and mommy for my expectant mommy friends.
5. Take her out
New moms are advised to limit the time they’re out and about with their newborns for the first six to eight weeks. And if you’re breastfeeding, you and your baby become one. Cabin fever is real and can get quite disorientating. As much as I loved having friends come over to visit and meet my boy, I was itching to leave the house for some fresh air. Going up the road with a friend to grab a coffee and brownie was like going on a beach holiday.
Even as my son got older, many people wanted to meet me somewhere but wanted me to bring him to lunch. I get it, you want to see the baby but she might need a break from being a mom for a moment and would like to put her girlfriend hat on. Offer to see and coo over the baby at the house for half an hour, but then take her out of the house so she can get some downtime.
If there’s no one with whom to leave the baby, why don’t you babysit while she goes out on her own? If that isn’t possible, you can’t personally make it or you don’t have the time, send her a voucher and order some chocolates to be delivered to her – just something for her to still feel a bit more human.
Some women are blessed to live near family or belong to cultures where the women come together to help with the everyday tasks to let mommy rest properly. Others aren’t that lucky and may not have family living nearby, or their houses are too small to accommodate people. If you know your friend has that tight support system, some of these things may already be taken care of, but it doesn’t hurt to contribute somehow. It’ll be much appreciated.
Aisha O’Reilly is a young African woman who loves natural hair, beauty and being a new mommy, among other things. Her aim is to inspire and encourage fellow women by giving them a peek into her life, with all of its ups, downs, questions and adventures in her blog, Aisha and Life.