For the privileged few there are Doulas, nursery nurse’s even professional nannies who for a price can be at your beck and call post-birth caring for you and baby while you recuperate and adjust to your new life. Unfortunately it is often a bunch of flowers and a box of roses lovingly handed over to your Mum in the hope of a little at home help for those all-important first weeks – particularly if it’s baby number one who has made their cute, cuddly appearance, or indeed baby number three so that you can continue to spend time with little person number one and little person number two! So it got us thinking here at the Inhealth office, what are the best, most beneficial things you can do or offer a new mum? Perhaps it’s your best friend forever, your daughter, a neighbour, girlfriend or wife (yes Dads this applies to you too!) How could you make life just a little bit easier for them in the first few weeks after baby has arrived, as for most women the smallest of gestures can mean the most.
Make cups of tea!
Surely everyone understands that the humble cup of tea has magical restorative properties, nectar of the gods even! New mums basically mainline tea for the first few weeks, and if tea is not her beverage of choice, make it a coffee and a strong one, or for the sweet toothed, a hot chocolate (and throw in that marshmallow). Whatever her drink of choice may be, keep the new mummy hydrated with copious amounts of it and the key – without being asked.
Did someone say biscuits?
I bet at the ante-natal classes they didn’t tell you that new mums inhale biscuits? Yep, biscuits of all shapes and sizes, from the odd Jammie Dodger to Cash & Carry sized packs of digestives (chocolate of course!) because it’s proven by mothers globally that a broken night’s sleep induces a desperate sugar craving. Who knew? Biscuits are basically mummy-crack and don’t stop at biscuits, because if there’s a cake, throw that in too. A general rule of thumb is if it contains sugar, Trans fats and is disgracefully bad for you, bring it round, pack it in the bag and hand it over. A couple of weeks won’t do too much harm.
How about some food that doesn’t contain sugar?
Controversial, we know, but new mums are also partial to the odd hot meal, as a plate of sensible food with veggies and a few potatoes can cause the most sleep deprived mum to warm to a plate of “it’s good for you too”. If you’re a whizz in the kitchen, a lasagne, pizza or shepherd’s pie which only needs a touch of reheating is a great gift to the frazzled mum and ideal if there are other little people at home.
And we don’t mean offer her a bath (even though that’s a nice idea too) but get the gloves on mind the manicure and if there are any dishes in the sink, take one for the team and get stuck in. Same applies to the dishwasher if it’s full a simple unpacking and putting it away can bring a sigh a relief to any new mum.
Compliments all round!
Why not simply tell her what an amazing job she is doing? Little compliments go a long way to boosting self-esteem, make her feel like she’s the first female on earth to go through childbirth, she deserves it, contrary to popular myth it’s tough going and not every new mum feels apple-cheeked and ready to don the apron. It can be overwhelming and showing appreciation can boost her confidence just enough for her to reach for that Custard Cream and take a sip of that well-earned tea.
When a new baby arrives, the world is different, the house smells different and you are different, however, life does return to normal. Reassure her that she will find time again to read, go to the cinema or go for her morning walk. In the emotional whirlwind that is post birth, new mums often feel that they will never do anything normal again, and while it can be true for a the first few weeks, time passes quickly and life does return to normal. A little reminder here and there can give comfort.
Passing the washing machine?
As you pass the washing machine, fill it with baby’s clothes, blankets etc., taking the load literally of the new mum, who is amazed at how many outfits a day her little one is getting through, putting the Kardashians to shame.
Take baby off her hands.
Giving a new mum time for herself is like winning the lottery, encourage her to go and relax in a bath, hint (gently) at maybe shaving the legs if needed! Tell her to catch some sleep, give her time for herself, and that she can relax in the knowledge you’ve got her little bundle all safe, comfy and cosy.
Bring the shopping.
Never go in with your hands swinging. Why not pick up some bread, milk, eggs, chocolate, tea bags, oh yeh biscuits and cake and, of course, more chocolate. Leave the vodka for a couple of more weeks, tastes terrible with Bourbon Creams anyway!
Tell her she looks fabulous! Without a speck of makeup, sleep deprived bags under the eyes, a smattering of bed hair, her favourite trackie bottoms and a slouchy top that allows quick access to the boob for breastfeeding it isn’t her finest hour. She knows that, but heh a little white lie at this time can only cause confidence, so tell her she looks wonderful, totally at peace, almost zen like with her oneness with motherhood (yes lay it on thick), and make it believable!
So there you have it, a few tips and tricks to make a new mum feel appreciated and special, of course, there are women who sail through childbirth back to their six packs in a single bound without a hair out of place. But there are many women who don’t, so in the absence of a Euro lottery win and a professional night nurse, let’s be kind to all the new mums in our lives and give them a little love back.