This one goes out to all the ones who have waited SO patiently for the new parents to bring their baby home so you can FINALLY meet him/her. Those who can’t wait to snuggle that sweet baby and breathe in his/her new baby smell that melts everything away. OH EM GEE just the thought of it brings me to my happy place!!!
You see, my husband and I come from pretty large families, including our “framily” (friends who are family). Whenever someone in our tribe is expecting, we become TOTALLY invested. Once the baby is born, it becomes a race to see who is going to hold the baby first or the longest. God forbid there are two of us baby hogs there at the same time!
BUT here is the catch…. If you have ever had a baby yourself, you remember the sometimes-overwhelming feeling that accompanied postpartum. You see, while there is NO harm in having so much love in your home, the postpartum period truly a time new parents could use a helping hand.
I really appreciated those simple gestures after my first AND second births. There were DEFINITELY moments where we felt exhausted, when those hormones would bring hot flashes and not so pleasant cramping and bleeding, when we let our home get a little unkempt after long nights, when we would skip a walk with the dogs in order to just close our eyes for an extra 15 minutes, and (with our second baby) when our 2 year old would crave one on one attention to simply get his wiggles out.
Because, as we all know, it truly takes a village. Here are Top 10 Tips For Supporting Those New Parents:
WASH YOUR HANDS. I cannot stress this one enough, which is why it is the FIRST thing on my list. The best way to prevent spread of infection is through hand washing, especially for a new baby with little to NO immune system. For new parents, it can sometimes be a little uncomfortable asking people to wash their hands before holding the baby. So take that step away from new and tired parents by simply taking an initiative to wash your hands as SOON as you get there. (**more points for vigorously washing your hands any time you are going back to pick up the baby**) Side note: if you are sick or feeling like you have a slight cold, wait until you feel completely healthy to visit. Better to be safe than sorry!
Do NOT allow new parents to cater to you, instead surprise them by catering to them! Try saying “have a seat, relax, do you have enough water, can I bring you a fresh glass? I am here to help!”
Offer to pick up items from the grocery store. Sometimes, even if we have spent SO much time nesting, we are bound to forget something or underestimate everything we needed during postpartum. Some of the most helpful things my family members did for me after my first birth was bringing over a couple nursing tanks, some witch hazel pads, chapstick, a water bottle, basic groceries, a tea, and Colace!
Pick ONE chore you can help with. It can be anything from washing dishes, tidying up the kitchen, vacuuming or sweeping, laundry, or even taking out the trash. While it may seem silly, and like you’re overstepping boundaries, MY GOSH is it a blessing to those tired parents.
Give attention to the other siblings or fur babies. It is going to take some time for everyone to get used to the new routine. For some children it can be so hard, especially if they are too young to understand. With my first, I had this enormous guilt that my two fur babies were kind of pushed to the side, then with my second, that mom guilt grew because poor Lady and Toby came after Tommy who came second to our newest Luna. The little gesture of playing with the other big sibling(s), bringing him/her a healthy fun treat (like an acai bowl that won’t make them bonkers after you leave), or taking the fur animals out for a walk is the BEST!!
Offer to watch the baby(ies) while the new parents shower or rest. Remember those lovely postpartum symptoms I described above… yeah, it can make any woman feel kinda yuck and isn’t the greatest confidence booster. Help her to boost her confidence by giving her that extra time to nap, take a long shower, to blow dry her hair, or to put on a little makeup for some instagram photos! That goes for the partner too!
Bring a meal for the new family or organize a meal train. The best way to anyones heart is through the stomach. Bring over a healthy meal for the new parents to warm up and eat. Breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to increase their caloric intake by 300 calories, and while a candy bar, or cheeseburger could easily fill that need, bring something that will help that new mom feel healthy and strong in her new role.
Simply ask “how is postpartum treating you?” That simple question can mean the world to a new parent. Sometimes just being able to express how they are adjusting to the new role can be so therapeutic. Regardless of what she/he may say, just LISTEN and be present.
Don’t overstay your welcome. Make a set time that you are going to leave, even if you do not have to be anywhere else. Even if the new parents are your best friends, they need some alone time to establish their new routine, bond with the baby, and walk around in however little clothes they want… not to mention there may be other visitors coming over later.
Be as supportive as possible. Every pregnancy is different. Every birth is different. Every person is different. Every method of parenting is different. Take the time to find at least ONE thing you can affirm the new parents with. There is NOTHING more encouraging and uplifting than hearing that you are doing a great job as a parent, especially when it feels like you have NO idea what you’re doing.
Follow these easy tips and you are sure to be welcomed back with open arms and (if you’re a baby hog) first dibs at snuggling that little one!