If you’re wondering how you can support a new mom, you’ve probably realized this period is just as important for mom as it is for baby. Her wellness is everything, and here are five ways you can provide much-needed support.
The early days of motherhood are laced with the most precious moments for a new parent. Bringing home a tiny person – the newest member of a growing family – sparks so much joy. But it’s also a time of transformation, which, for many new mothers, can be a silent and unexpected struggle.
Five ways to check on and support a new mom
As a new mama myself, trust me when I say she needs you, but she might not know how to ask for your help. Follow these tips to best support a new mom in your life today.
1. Deliver an encouraging message
Sending a message of love and encouragement makes a world of difference. Your words carry so much weight when she’s exhausted and swimming in self-doubt. The messaging is simple yet powerful.
- You’re doing a great job
- You’re an amazing mother
- It’s okay to not love every single moment.
- You’re not alone. I’m always here for you.
- I know this can be hard, but you’re so capable and strong. You’ve got this.
These messages help her feel heard and understood.
On her hardest days, all that’s needed is the acknowledgment that her struggles are completely valid. She wants to know that everything will be okay. Whatever that message looks like to you, it will have more impact than you can ever realize.
2. Keep the spotlight on her
When you reach out to the new mama in your life, it’s okay to keep the topic of the conversation focused on her and less on the baby. It’s definitely challenging not to talk about her beautiful, squishy newborn, but she’ll find it completely refreshing to discuss things other than feeding and diaper changes.
Give her an opportunity to talk about herself.
Remember what brought about the smiles and the laughter. You’re helping to restore a sense of normalcy. You’ll find that it’ll be easier for her to be honest and open with you when she’s comfortable.
One of the toughest parts of postpartum is realizing that your identity is changing, and casual conversations like these help her remember that she’s still the same person before becoming a mom. That person is still there. Not gone. Never gone. Just making space for the woman she is becoming.
3. Ask intentional questions
I had a few people check in on me during those early days of motherhood. It almost always started with a well-meaning:
- How are you?
- How are things going?
- Do you need any help?
The truth was I didn’t know what to say. I wanted help and knew deep down that I was struggling, but I was afraid to admit it. Why would they want to hear how exhausted I was? Or how I was frustrated and overwhelmed with being a mom?
I had a million and one things running through my head. It was just easier to give a shorter answer. So, I told everyone that I was fine rather than expressing what I was truly feeling at that moment.
And the result? They didn’t know I needed help or that my needs weren’t being met.
She may not know exactly what support looks like for new moms or how to ask for it. Open-ended questions make it easy for her to give an answer that is sometimes far from the truth.
Instead, try some of these more pointed questions:
- How are you feeling today?
- I know hard it can be. How is the transition going for you?
- You’re doing a great job, mama. What’s one thing I can help you with?
- I’ve been thinking about you! What’s on your mind today, mama?
When she starts to answer honestly, she’s opening up a very vulnerable piece of her heart. By listening to her feelings and acknowledging that this journey is a process, she’ll feel less alone and more deeply supported.
4. Offer specific and actionable help
Life at home with a newborn is a blur. For those first few weeks, a mama is living her days in two to four-hour increments depending on the baby’s needs. She’s going to try to manage it all, including the everyday chores. And most likely, she’ll be hard on herself when she can’t meet her own expectations.
Offering your help is one of the kindest gestures you can make to a new mama. Before you ask, understand that it’ll be hard for her to accept help and even harder for her to tell you her exact needs, but that doesn’t mean you should stop offering.
Be specific with your approach:
- Can I bring you your favorite meal?
- What can I pick up from the grocery store?
- Can I help you with the dishes?
- Do you want me to watch the baby while you rest?
- Can I bring you a coffee, juice, or tea?
You’re there to help, but keep a limit on your time spent in her home unless she doesn’t mind you being there for long stretches.
It’s your generosity that makes every difference. While it may not seem like much, you’re giving mama a well-deserved break, a few minutes to catch her breath, and a moment to recenter herself as best she can.
5. Take initiative when necessary
The postpartum period is a delicate time for mama.
Approximately four in five mothers experience the Baby Blues, which can last anywhere between a few days to a couple of weeks but will generally go away on its own without medical attention.
However, as many as one in eight women experience symptoms of Postpartum Depression.
Sometimes it takes a fellow mom or a friend paying close attention to recognize when a mama is struggling. Too often do we reach out after we are deeply overwhelmed, and the symptoms of a postpartum disorder are serious – when our thoughts are at their most intrusive and debilitating.
Trust your gut when it comes to the new mom in your life. Gently offer to do some of the heavy lifting so there’s less on her plate:
- Suggest that you can research doctors that are covered under her insurance
- Offer to find some resources that will help build a sense of community with other moms
- Connect her with a provider to begin the conversation of scheduling an appointment
There’s a fear of being judged, so she may not be able to take this step by herself.
When you check in with her, know that it’s beneficial to listen and offer support. You don’t always have to have serious talks. Discussions that bring about joy can have just as much impact. You never know when your thoughtfulness and grace for mom will save the day.