Supporting A New Mom

Postpartum is an incredibly challenging season for a lot of women. It is during this time that a new mother’s body is healing while they are simultaneously having to adjust to an entirely new version of life. Often times, friends and family want to support their loved one but are unsure of how to best do so. Postpartum needs differ for each individual and it is important and helpful to engage in communication with the new mother in your life to see what would allow her to best feel supported.

Respect Boundaries and Parenting Decisions

One of the simplest ways to support a new mother is to respect decisions she makes regarding her child. Postpartum is an isolating season of life where new mother’s are doing everything they can to protect their child. Postpartum is a season of learning and growing, and with that comes boundaries. Although it can be hard for families who want to meet the baby and hold the baby, it is important to respect decisions made by the baby’s parents. This can sometimes look like implementation of health and safety rules such as washing hands, no kissing the baby, wearing a mask, or getting certain vaccinations. This can also include checking in with the mother before passing the baby to someone else, asking if she would like her baby back if they are upset, and checking in to make sure they are comfortable with any actions you may take with the baby. Simply following the boundaries set forth by the mother can reduce both emotional and physical stress during postpartum.

Help With Household Responsibilities

Although the assumption is usually that a mother wants a break from her baby, this is not always true. The pressure a mother feels to balance the different roles in her life can be overwhelming. It can be helpful to offer to assist with chores such as dishes, laundry, or cleaning. Offer to make a meal and drop it on the porch or cook for the family. These things can allow for mothers to spend time with their baby without the pressure of daily responsibilities. Sometimes even offering to sit with a new mom while she holds and nurses her baby can be a show of support.

Check In

Checking in gives a new mom the space to share feelings and receive validation. It can help decrease the feelings of isolation. It is important to note that a check-in is not the time to share advice or give suggestions. It is the time to listen, validate, and create a safe space for the mother to share how she is feeling. Some examples of supportive ways to initiate a check in would be: “How have you been feeling this week?”, “How has sleep been going for you?”, “It sounds like it has been really exhausting, would you like to talk about it?”, “You are doing a great job, I am here if you need anything!”, “What is something I could do that would help you feel supported?”, or “When you have the space, I would love to hear about you and your day!”. With check-ins, validation and active listening are both essential pieces. Statements like “soak it all up, you will miss this someday” tend to increase feelings of isolation and guilt. Emotional support is a powerful tool in this season.

Offering Help

Whether you are finding ways to meet physical needs, emotional needs, or both of a mother during postpartum, it is important to be open to feedback on how to best meet their needs. Mothers in the postpartum period often struggle to ask for help on their own. By initiating this support, it can help alleviate stress for the mother and allow it to be easier for her to get the help she needs most. Be the one to reach out, don’t wait for her to reach out first.