New motherhood brings joy and surprises, along with sleepless nights and turning the new parents’ life upside down for some time. And as the popular saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. So, what can you do as a member of that village to pitch in? We’ve asked other mums and collected their insights to help you make sense of it all. New mums (and dads), we suggest you email, tweet or post this list on your Facebook wall and let it do the talking for you.
1. Drop off meals
New parents are too busy and exhausted to figure out what to put on the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Find out what they like to eat (check that they don’t have allergies or other food restrictions) and arrange a convenient time to drop off the meal. Life with a new baby is often unpredictable, so call in advance and stay only a minute unless you’re sure the new mum wants company.
2. Drop off groceries
“Buying groceries for the household will be a huge help because I know how difficult it was in the beginning to move around with the babies,” says January Low, who gave birth to twins last year. Ask the new mum if you could pick up a few things for her or ask for her shopping list. She will really appreciate not having to worry about running errands with her new baby in tow.
3. Check in with new dad
For new mum Ai Sin, she preferred for visitors to make an appointment with her husband, so that they could visit when he’s at home to entertain them. “I might hop out to say hi and a few sentences, parade with my bundle of joy and then go back in to continue nursing,” she says.
4. Don’t stay too long
Call in advance and only visit for short periods of time. The first few weeks are exhausting, and all the visitors can take a toll and put pressure on a new mom who’s trying to figure out a new life balance.
5. Offer to run errands for her
Ask if the new mum needs help replenishing supplies like diapers, nursing pads, toilet rolls and pet food.
6. Offer to play social secretary
Help upload pictures of the new baby on the new mum’s Facebook/Instagram on her behalf or be her point of contact for friends and relatives. That way she won’t be bombarded with endless calls and text messages from visitors.
7. Bring a basket of snack foods
Granola bars, cookies (the healthy kind, of course), water bottles… all things that will give her some fuel – and that she can eat with one hand. These babies don’t always like to be put down.
8. Give her a gift to remind her of herself
Bring a book if she likes to read or gift her an iTunes voucher or Spotify Premium account if she’s into music. Everything is very baby-baby-baby after a baby is born… it’s nice to acknowledge the “old” part of a new mum!
9. Make yourself useful
Help around if the kitchen sink is full of dishes or if there’s a pile of clean clothes waiting to be folded. If you’re not into cleaning and are feeling especially generous, offer to pay a house cleaner for an hour.
10. Hold the baby
Offer to hold her baby so she can have some personal time to eat a meal, or take a hot shower, without having to worry about her baby. For daddies, mum of twins Li-Hsian suggests taking over some of the feeds. Li-Hsian says when her husband helped with feeds first thing in morning, she could have a little lie in to rest and reenergise.
11. Take photos
Taking, printing, sharing and framing newborn photos is high up on the “should do” list for most new mums. But on the list of things that have to get done in a day, it can fall pretty low. Try to take pictures when you visit, and then surprise the family later with printed copies (or even just the digital files by email).
12. Be a helpline
If you want to help out a brand new mum and you’re a seasoned mum veteran, offer to let her call you at all hours of the night.
13. Don’t dispense unsolicited advice
“See what the new mother needs and really help her, instead of bombarding her with what worked for you. This especially applies to older relatives who think they know best,” says mum of one Janet Tay.
14. Watch her older kids
That way, she can take care of the baby — and possibly catch up on some sleep — while the big kids can enjoy an outing with you.
15. Help her figure out baby gear
If she hasn’t put together all those gifts she got at the baby shower, you could help her out by jumping in and doing that.
16. Take her out
She might be ready to get out of the house for a bit. Agree to meet her at home, help her pack and get out. Having an extra set of hands pushing the stroller even for a walk around the neighbourhood will make a huge difference.
17. Don’t panic when the baby cries
New babies cry and it’s something that the new mum and you just need to accept. Getting all flustered about it and asking why it’s happening won’t make the situation better. Stay calm and let mum figure it out.
18. Excuse yourself
Give the new mum some space when it’s time to nurse the baby. The last thing she would want is for you to sit there and stare while she’s nursing.
19. Drop off her favourite treat
A newborn can bring a whirlwind of activity and excitement to the new mum’s life — and plenty of stress and fatigue. Drop off a cup of hot chocolate and a slice of cake from her favourite cafe to brighten up her day.
20. Don’t just focus on the baby
Gifting her with flowers, a manicure/pedicure session, or throwing her a low-key potluck with her girlfriends can all help her feel appreciated and special.
21. Stop by after all the hullabaloo has died
The first two weeks everyone is eager to help, but the adjustment period takes much longer. “Popping by even for an hour so that the new mum can shower and chit chat would be a huge treat,” says January.
Image Credit: Flickr user Phil Stefans