5 Priceless Tips on How to support a New Mum
It pains me to admit that I didn’t feel supported after becoming a mum; I wasn’t capable of reaching out for help (as I had never done it before in my life, and it was uncharted territory), and no one offered to help me out.
Most of the friends I had before giving birth, randomly texted me and didn’t generally offer to come and visit; some of them went to the extent of asking me to go to their place for a cuppa.
I held on so much resentment during the first months of my motherhood journey, and it took me a long time to let that go and to start vocalising my needs.
Women in the past were held, nourished and supported during the very delicate postpartum phase, but in this day and era postnatal mamas, unless they have a lovely and understanding family, find themselves completely isolated, and ridden with fears and doubts.
This is why I have decided to come up with this very and quick shortlist of actions and conversations that could change a mother’s life almost immediately.
If you are the mother, friend, partner, child of a new mum, please ask the following:
The “Are you ok” rule
I have a friend that calls me and says “How are you and Luna? Well? Good! Guess what happened to me…”. I can’t describe how wrong this conversation is on so many levels. When you talk to your mum friend or any human being in general, ask the question “Are you ok?”, and then pause. Pause for as long as it’s necessary, without trying to fill in the silence with useless chattering. Maybe you are going to find the empty space quite uncomfortable, but keep on trying, and you will quickly become the best friend in sight.
Mothers need to talk, and somehow they feel ashamed to share what’s in their brain, or they are afraid of boring other people to death. I don’t find nappy changing conversations more boring than others; it is a way of sharing how overwhelmed, stuck in a rut and hopeless she feels. So ask, and listen up!
State a fact, instead of giving options
“What can I do for you?”
Let me think…nothing?
If I can give you a golden piece of advice, don’t ask open questions to an overwhelmed mother, simply offer.
I will bring you a lasagna tomorrow night, at what time do you have 30 minutes for me?
I watch your baby for the next 15 minutes, go and have a shower.
I will bring the cake on your birthday, I will be there 10 minutes before everyone else.
And the list goes on and on. “What can I do for you” it’s just a nice way of saying: I have offered, but I can’t be bothered to change my schedule to fit your needs, and I hope you won’t ask me for anything too inconvenient.
Cut out all this overthinking, and simply offer what you got, and can do.
I understand you want to have brunch on Sunday at 11.30am in the hype café on the other side of town, but my child sleeps at 11 am, I need to take 3 buses to get there, and I will need to deal with a poo explosion and a couple of breastfeeding sessions, and I really don’t want to stay out for a long time.
I’m sure there are friends that are really keen to follow you on an impromptu adventure, but if you have a friend that is going through a rough patch, don’t feel annoyed to meet her where she is (physically and mentally); you don’t know how tired and panicky she feels just at the idea of catching 2 buses with a crying child; do not underestimate how exhausting it is to push a pram around town and up and down public transports. Meet her where she is, and save the cool café outing for a better season.
Ask about the baby
I understand that babies aren’t your favorite topic of conversation, but at least ask; I’m sure you will have plenty of time and you already had plenty of time to talk about your careers, relationships, struggles, desires, the latest yoga class…but for now, ask how was last night, how is the baby, what is happening in her life. And be willing to listen. Make a mother feel supported, hug her through words, be concerned about her feelings and how she is handling her new role. Be there for her baby as much as she was there for you and you are there for her.
And if you are the partner…
Do instead of asking
If you see your wife holding a bay, while making breakfast, and brewing some coffee, please don’t say “Can I help?”. Just go there, hold the baby, and let her drink that cup of coffee; or if the baby doesn’t want to be with you, invite her to sit and make breakkie for her.
Do you understand the gist?
Book a date night, and book the babysitter.
Do the groceries, and cook a meal.
Take the baby out for a walk, and let her be.
There are so many ways we can show love, but acts of service and supporting words are of the uttermost importance for a new mum.
Tell her she is doing an incredible job. Every day. Remind her how attractive she is. Every day. Tell her how much you love her. Every day. Kiss her. Every day.