Being a new mom can be a difficult transition – help from others can burden that load just a little bit. Here are some tips for visiting a new mom – and the dos and don’ts of how to help her.
Whether you are having your first baby or tenth, adding a new member to your family changes your life.
Some people are able to bounce back immediately and others take weeks – or even months – to feel “normal” again.
Regardless, I feel so passionately about supporting and celebrating new moms. I think it’s easy to forget the new mom, especially after the first few days, but in reality, it takes quite some time to recover from childbirth.
Today, I want to celebrate new moms. I’ve partnered with Pampers at Sam’s Club to share some different do’s and don’ts for visiting a new mom.
I am sharing my own experience – as well as that of others – to help you get a better understand of what it’s like to be a new mom. And why new moms need support and celebration!
Above all else, simply ask the new mom what she needs – and if she says nothing, ask again in a few days. In my experience, most moms won’t ask for help, even when they are desperate.
This is also helpful because all moms are truly different. While one mother would appreciate a nice visit, another mom would much rather you drop by a meal and run. Never assume that you know what the mom needs – asking is always helpful.
“Family coming over to watch the baby so I could nap was life saver!! My mom came over and cooked meals for us, made sure my water cup was always full, brought snacks, bought groceries, etc. I appreciated all of that SOOO much!” – Amanda
“Laundry, dishes, cleaning, take the dogs for a walk, hold baby so I can take a shower, take out the trash, make sure I have water/snacks… all the stuff you forget about or don’t make time for.” – Faith
“Laundry- especially folding and putting away and fresh sheets on the bed. Taking our dogs out for some exercise and “people time” the first few weeks.” – Rachel
“My mom and sister came to my house cleaned, stocked my freezer with meals, and grocery shopped before I got home from the hospital then took my older kids on vacation for a week. Then it was nice just having people come over to visit me and meet baby.” – Kels
“What I wish someone would have done was bring some home cooked meals over. Or helped watch babe while I cooked. We ate out a lot, which cost a lot, but also just didn’t make me feel great.”
Or “let me change that diaper for you, you eat. Idk, I missed a lot of meals, too and I love food. Showers and food are the two things I wish I had more of.” – Yasmin
Text her, send her a message on Facebook, or even give her a call. So many mothers that I work with feel as if they’ve been forgotten after they have a baby. I remember feeling that way after Jack was born – and it meant so much to me when one of my friends would text me or ask if they could drop by.
After I had Oliver, I remember my friend Hilary checking in on my constantly – once I didn’t respond for like 12 hours, and she just kept messaging me until I did. Everyone needs a Hilary in their life – so be one to someone else.
“Bringing meals and doing dishes/ laundry. But honestly, it was just nice to have some human contact. The 4th trimester can get lonely and consuming!” – Brienna
“Messaged me every day for weeks to check in on me.” – Katelyn
Bring Diapers and Wipes
If you are wanting to drop a gift by, diapers and wipes are ALWAYS appreciated – no matter what number baby she just had. After Oliver was born, I don’t think I bought diapers until he was six months old because people had been so generous.
I think it’s super helpful to buy diapers in sizes they will need in the future – if you are curious, here is some information on how many diapers a baby needs during the first year (and the approximate sizes!)
When I asked moms in my breastfeeding Facebook group, SO many of them mentioned food in some way – whether it was a freezer meal (or offering to help prepare some with her before baby is born), starting a meal train with some friends, or bringing by a piping hot dinner – or even a pizza – food is always appreciated.
Make sure you ask about any food preferences or allergies. I had a few people give me some restaurant gift cards that had pickup, and we loved that.
“Cooking was the last thing on our minds, with baby number three we didn’t have time and so the meals that people brought over were so helpful!” – Heather
“I thought my lifegroup bringing meals was extremely helpful. They took turns bringing my family meals for a few weeks after baby was born. It made it so much easier on me not having to worry about dinner.” – Amber
“Bring food, but try to avoid pasta and red sauce dishes. I loved that everyone was so thoughtful bringing us meals, but by the 5th day I couldn’t stomach any more pasta.” – Rebecca
“Bringing meals but also bringing paper plates, plastic silverware and napkins. Also, bringing meals in disposable pans is a bonus!” – Carrie
“One of our friends picked out a healthy restaurant in town and sent us a full day’s worth of meals. It was nice to have some healthy choices and not just frozen dinners.” – Becky
Volunteer to watch/help her kids
When you have multiple children, it can be hard to balance your attention with the needs of all your children, especially when they are younger.
Sometimes it is just nice to be able to have a few hours where you can snuggle your newborn without worrying about if your other children are feeling neglected (or if they are sneaking their 10th cookie for the day). Offering to take her kids or even play with them in the basement for a while can be just what a new mom needs.
“If you have younger kiddos, offering to take them for a couple nights also helps just bc you are so worn out and tired and sleep is a much-needed thing.” – Amy
“Having 4 older kids it was a great relief to have help getting them to and from school, help with laundry (4 boys in elementary school), and dinners.” – Jennifer
“My mom helped by making my oldest feel special. She took him to pick out a gift for the baby to bring to the hospital, took him to the park to play with his cousin, and a bunch of other things when we first had the baby. He loved being the center of their attention and I was able to get a few naps in while the baby slept.” – Kimberly
Offer favorite baby gear
If you see a mom has a need for something and you have it (and aren’t using it) – consider letting her borrow it. For instance, if baby has really bad reflux, she may find a Rock ‘n Play useful. Perhaps you’ve noticed she doesn’t have a baby monitor – maybe you should offer yours.
Of course, make sure you know you’ll get it back eventually (unless you don’t care), but babies are expensive and not all moms can afford to get all the latest and greatest!
Throw a lunch
This would be good to do after baby has gotten a little bit bigger, but if you have a lot of mutual friends, you can throw a little “meet baby” luncheon. This is especially nice for moms who have multiple children who may not have had a baby shower. It’s a great way to make them feel loved and also introduce their baby to everyone.
Hold her baby
Of course, ask her first. But it can be nice just to have someone else hold your baby for a few minutes, especially in the first few months. Make sure you don’t hog the baby though and make her feel awkward if she has to take the baby away to feed them.
At the same time, don’t just grab the baby without asking.
“Someone to hold the baby while Mom gets to shower/eat/nap.” – Amanda
Clean her house
This is one of those things I would ask first – and don’t be overly, “Wow, your house is a DISASTER! Let me clean it!” Simply ask if there are any chores you can do that she’s having trouble keeping up with.
“Brought dinner! My mother in law also paid a cleaning service to come clean a few weeks after baby was born. That was nice!” – Jessica
“A friend of mine received a gift in form of a paid cleaning service and she thought it was a big help.” – Paulina
Do Seasonal Chores (or ones unique to them)
Depending on the time of year, it might be helpful to offer to water her plants, rake leaves, or shovel the walkway. We’ve had people shovel our walkway during the winter – as well as put down salt – and it was the kindest thing!
“MIL Came and walked our dogs when she would visit.” – Jessica
“A friend mowed our yard and that was such a relief.” – Amanda
Take pictures of her
I can’t tell you how many moms I know who say they have hardly any pictures of them with their child, and I think that’s sad! You don’t have to do a full on photo session – but I think most moms would appreciate you asking them if you could take a couple pictures for them. Some of my most precious memories are photos of me with my children in their first few months of life.
“Did newborn photos for me as a gift.” – Katelyn
Talk – but more importantly, listen
Having a baby can be hard and lonely – sometimes new moms just need to have someone to talk to who will listen without trying to solve all the problems. Let her rant, cry, or rave about how much she loves her baby. So many new moms just feel lonely and need a friend.
“Food, grocery store or Target run for you, and just having someone hold the baby so you can simply have a hand free, take a shower, or nap. I agree, someone to talk to, too. I had a couple people volunteer to come over to watch the baby so I could sleep, and I was so desperate for human conversation I skipped the sleeping and just talked, I was so excited.” – Lauren
“I wish I had been more informed and prepared for the emotional effect it would have on me. I experienced a lot of anxiety in the first 2-3 weeks and literally cried every day even though i had a ton of help and support. It helped for me to talk to friends who’d experienced the same thing but it would’ve been even more helpful to know going into it that what I felt was normal.” – Anonymous
“To be honest, having people come over to pray with me. I’ve been so sleep deprived and overwhelmed, that the hope I had in Jesus sustained me. Also, friends answering questions because I don’t know a thing! Lol. Giving me space and not rushing over to see baby because I’m tired!” – Bri
If you offer to help – follow through. A lot of people will say “oh let me know if you need anything!”, but not everyone is actually willing to follow through. I think this is why a lot of moms struggle to even ask for help, because they don’t know who actually wants to.
“I wish more people would have actually offered to help me… instead of just blindly offering and expecting me to say oh no thank you, or asking to hold my baby while they watched me clean my house on no sleep.” – Sami
Offer to Run Errands
It can be quite the task to run a simple errand when your baby is new and you are still recovering. Ask if she needs anything picked up at the store (she can even order groceries online and just have you pick them up) or if there’s another errand she might need you to run.
“I think having people offer to run errands was so nice, or bring you a coffee. It seemed like such a project to pack to leave that I never wanted to bother.” – Katlin
Show up unannounced
I remember someone knocking on my door when I was home alone, Oliver was screaming, and I was in a robe that was covered in milk. I did not answer that door, and I don’t feel bad one bit. While it might seem like a great idea to surprise a new mom with a visit, I think she will always appreciate a heads up first.
Give unwanted advice
So, I love to give advice. But I never give it unless someone specifically asks me. I think we all like to share our experiences – and when we see a mom struggling, it often seems like a good time to jump to the rescue.
However, in most situations, moms have a general idea of what they want to do and how they want to parent. If a mom is doing something that might be harming her baby, then yes, I would definitely give advice where it was needed. But if she’s talking about how her baby is eating every two hours, and she is so tired, don’t jump in with your expert baby sleep advice.
Belittle her experiences/compare
When you get to talking about your experiences as a mother, it’s easy to start comparing your experience. While I don’t think most people mean to make someone feel bad by doing this, when you are newly postpartum, feeling like you are doing everything wrong, and someone starts talking about their experience, it can make you feel like you are doing something wrong. Just be careful about what you share. And don’t tell a mom to just get over something or that she’s being over dramatic. That is not helpful!
It’s easy to get tired after you have a baby, and hosting guests can be overwhelming. As much as I appreciated people popping in to show they cared, I appreciated shorter visits. I know many moms feel this same way!
“Bringing food and keeping visits SHORT! I hated feeling like I had to take my baby out of someone’s arms bc it was time to nurse them and they weren’t getting it.” – Laura
“Someone to come for a short visit so you can take your time in a nice hot shower and not worry about listening out for a baby cry. I found the most overwhelming thing to be the amount of visitors in the first week, and how long they stayed. I was beyond exhausted and it was way too much having constant company while you are trying to get breastfeeding down and bond.” – Caitlin
Make the visit about you
When I had both of my boys, my mom was such a huge help. She cooked, she cleaned, and when I had Oliver, she took care of Jack so, so much. She never once complained, and she did so much to help lighten my load.
Unfortunately, I hear a lot of moms who don’t have the same experience. They have family who claim to be coming to help, but in the end, they expect the mom to entertain them, feed them, and take care of them. If you aren’t willing to help the new mom – then don’t ask if you can come stay at her house shortly after the baby is born.
Even if you are just visiting for an hour or so – make the visit about the new mom. Listen to her. Talk about the baby. Talk about her. Maybe she wants to hear the latest news from around the office – but wait for her to bring it up!
“My MIL made soooo many freezer meals when she came. It was so nice. My mom cleaned my house and kept up the laundry when she visited.” – Liz
“Bringing meals and holding the baby while I got to eat. Then doing the dishes after the meal. My parents came over every evening with dinner and took turns holding the baby so we could eat together. They also took the trash out and moved the trashcans to the curb the night before trash day. Very helpful!” – Stephanie
“My MIL would clean up or do the dishes when she came to visit. My mom would occupy the baby so I could take a shower. My husband would come home from work and take care of babe so I could nap.” – Megan
“My mom… she is awesome… she cooks food for me… she prepares juices every 2 to 3 hrs.. gets me milk with bm enhancing supplements thrice a day.. laundry work… bathing my baby and cleaning when she poops…My hubby helps in feeding me food while I’m feeding my baby.. they both do a whole lot.. both takes care of my baby when I have to do bathing and all.” – Cassendra
“Coming over to give me and hubby a break to rest – one of the best days was when grandparents visited and held my boy as soon as i was done feeding him so i could sleep. It was the first nap i had where he didn’t wake me early!” – Jessie
Bring your kids without asking (especially if they are sick)
Some people will be thrilled to see your kids when you come to visit their new baby…however, I’m willing to bet most are not chomping at the bit for this. If you want to come see a new mom, and you have to bring your kids, make sure it’s okay with her first (and make it very easy for her to say no).
If you, your kids, etc. are sick at all…do not go! No illness is worth exposing a newborn or a newly postpartum mother to simply so you can see them.
Try not to assume she doesn’t need help because she has family nearby or because she’s had other kids. It really does take a village, and we all need a little bit of help. I think I’d rather someone ask a few too many times if they can be of service rather than not ask at all.
Forget about her
As I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to feel forgotten as a new mom. Even when you have visitors coming by, the visit is often all about the new baby. This is understandable – and I think most moms are excited to share the joy of a new baby. However, make sure you don’t forget about the mom.
“Feeling alienated is horrible especially when you’re so emotional so it was nice to have someone sit and just talk with me.” – Jennifer
If you’ve had children – what did you find most helpful as a new mom?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pampers at Sam’s Club. The opinions and text are all mine.