Being a new mom (whether for the first or fourth time) is a wonderful experience. But it's also an intense period of change that can quickly become overwhelming. It's no surprise that many new moms feel isolated. In fact, a Mother & Baby magazine survey found that new moms spend only 90 minutes a day on average in the company of other adults.
The good news is that there are easy ways to support a friend after she's had a baby. You can help minimize feelings of isolation and help make her new adjustment a little smoother. After all, self-care is an important part of making the transition to motherhood. And your friend will need your help in making sure she takes care of herself. Try these seven thoughtful things for a friend who's just had a baby.
01. Bring her favorite treat.
A latte splurge might have been your friend's pre-baby habit, but chances are those weekly treats have disappeared from her new routine. Spare her the hassle of taking a newborn out into the world by bringing her her favorite treat instead. Check in to see if she has any special dietary restrictions (avoiding caffeine or limiting sugar intake, for example). Or, if you had some other tradition with your friend, consider reviving it in a simplified way.
"Last night my husband had to work, so my friend came over and I was able to just hang out with her and watch Scandal while Evelyn slept," says new mom Victoria. "It helped remind me of what normal is while everything else is changing." Your friend will value your thoughtfulness and the chance to incorporate her old favorites into her new life.
02. Offer to run errands or do household chores.
Regular chores fall by the wayside with a newborn in the picture. Errands like grocery shopping, which were once quick trips, now involve a greater production: diaper bag, car seat, stroller, etc. Offer to run errands or pitch in and do a few chores around the house. What did new mom Sarah appreciate most in those first few weeks after her daughter was born? "It may not sound like much, but my family coming over and cleaning the house (especially the bathrooms) and doing laundry right after Evie was born was so amazing—not something you feel like doing post-delivery." Even taking 30 minutes to help out your friend will make a huge difference in bringing some order to the chaos.
03. Spend some time watching the baby at her house.
When only mom is at home, leaving the baby's side for even a few minutes can seem impossible. Offer to stop by and babysit for a little while. Your friend can shower, power nap, or get anything done that she hasn't had the chance to. "Offering to come over and hold the baby while you do some cleaning, cooking, or simple things like take a nap or shower without having to jump out halfway through because you hear baby crying is really nice," says new mom Jenny.
Being a mom can be exhausting and lonely. Offer to stop by or give her a call just to talk. She's likely getting a lot of advice from the experienced moms in her life. So offer her the time to just talk and vent if she needs to. The most important thing you can do is tell her that you hear and understand what she is saying. Show her you care by actively listening: Listen carefully and respond to what she says with validating comments like, "That must be frustrating/difficult/emotionally taxing." Ask her to elaborate on how she's feeling. Avoid the temptation to problem solve unless she asks for your help. This doesn't mean you can't vent about the goings on in your own life. She wants to know how you're doing, too!
05. Offer to come over and make dinner (or order in).
Even with a new baby in the house, your friend and her family still need to eat. Rather than just dropping off a prepared meal, offer to come over and make dinner and clean up afterwards. Order in if cooking is not your specialty. Your friend will appreciate the social time and the fact that she won't have to worry about cleaning up as her nighttime routine probably revolves around her newborn. If you live out of state, consider sending your friend a gift card to her favorite restaurant or offer to order delivery for her.
06. Pamper her.
It's tough to pamper yourself when you've got a baby to pamper. Consider hiring a trusted sitter or teaming up with another friend who can babysit while the two of you get a manicure or blowout. You can also offer to babysit so that your friend and her husband can go out to dinner and a movie. For bonus points, come over an hour early so she can get ready while you help watch the baby.
07. Affirm her.
Chances are your friend is bombarded by well-meaning advice from friends, mommy blogs, and the world at-large. She may even be second guessing herself. Let her know that you think she is doing an amazing job as a mom.
Showing your friend that you support her is as simple as one of the gestures above. And you'll both have a better chance to maintain the friendship she cherished long before this new person came into her life. Not only will your friend feel loved and grateful, but you will also be helping her invest in the ever-important task of self-care. As they say, happy mommy, happy baby!