How to support a mum with a new baby
We see it all the time….
A mum arrives at coffee afternoon with her baby.
She has bags under her eyes (that she may have tried to cover with make up) and her skin looks tired. The obvious give away for us is that she has no ‘sparkle’ in her eyes.
I ask her “hey there, great to see you – how are you doing?”
Her response?? ‘Yeah, I’m fine’.
Fortunately for us we have often built a relationship during pregnancy and so I am able to look her in the eyes and gently ask ‘mm, are you sure about that?’
Just occasionally a mum will put up the barriers, smile on through and say “yep, I’m doing great” – so I will invite her in and offer to make her a drink so that she can go and sit with her friends and feel like a ‘real person, not just a mum’ for the next two hours.
But often a mum will look at me with a look of despair and say “no – i’m not fine really – this is SO hard being a mum!”
And so I listen.
So many mums with tiny babies have the same concerns and worries:
I’m SO tired
I need some sleep
I need someone to help me with laundry / cleaning / cooking
I just want a break
Is this it? Is this my future?
I need a home cooked meal
I would love to stand in a shower alone for just 10 minutes
Oh my days I would LOVE to lay in a bath
I wish someone would hug me
I just want a day off!
I would just like an hour or two alone with my partner
Unfortunately many mums struggle to vocalise what it is they need and often well meaning family / friends offer advice on how they can be a better mother, rather than simply offering practical support. They question their own value wondering “why can’t I cope with it all? Everyone else manages! I know they do, because I see their wonderful happy faces on Facebook!”
So if you are visiting or calling a new mum the best way to support them is give a specific offer of practical help – if she wants emotional support or parenting advice she is more likely to ask for it and not feel judged when she isn’t trying to juggle EVERYTHING at once. Until then don’t offer your opinion on how she should raise her child or which parenting approach she should use!
Try the following for starters!
Could I bring you a dinner over? (Or better still just make one, and drop it off unannounced!)
Could I come over and watch the baby whilst you have a bath?
Would you like me to take the baby out in the pram for an hour?
Why don’t you put some laundry in a bag for me to wash / iron and I can drop it off tomorrow?