As a Midwife and person of age where many of my friends are starting to have babies I've naturally become a fly on the wall as to what is really important to new parents in those first few weeks and months. I have compiled a simple list of things you could offer a new parents, all easy and mostly free but will mean the world to the recipient.
1. Bring food.
I cannot stress enough how helpful and lovely this really is. As a new parent the last thing you want or need to be thinking about is food preparation, who to feed or what to feed them. The gift of a hot meal really is the best thing you can give a new family. Whether this is home cooked or baked, or a frozen ready meal (eg COOK, allplants or Mindful Chef ) it really is so thoughtful and will always be so gratefully received. One more thing... make sure she actually has time to eat (and enjoy!) it; offer to take the baby whilst she sits and eats a proper meal. It really is the little things that mean so much.
2. Help around the house.
Make sure she isn't hosting you. If you are going round to see her and her new baby then make yourself useful! New mothers feel that their house should always look ready for visitors; tidy, kettle on and in proper clothes. Allow them the space to know it's absolutely okay to be in PJs all day with a load of washing in a pile. Sit her down with a cup of tea and put the dishwasher on, stick a load of clothes in the machine and wipe the surfaces/ hoover. It's so easy and takes 10 mins but it makes a world of difference to them - just one less thing to worry about!
3. Play with her other child(ren).
Maybe she has another toddler or older child and her partner is working. One adult and two little people is ALOT. Nap times, snack times, play time, BED TIME... Offer to take her toddler off for a little walk or just sit and play with them whilst she is settling the baby - or visa versa. Even 15 minutes just takes the pressure off and the toddler will absolutely love that one-on-one time with another adult. Talk to the toddler about their new baby, ask what they love about them and encourage that relationship to grow. It can be turbulent bringing a newborn into a family unit and routine so having another person there to help out can really take the pressure off, even if it's for 5 minutes.
4. Give her space to share her birth experience.
In a recent Instagram post I shared my musings on our perceptions of birth (you can read it here ) and feel that society still isn't comfortable with women sharing their true experiences of birth. If it's a positive birth it's seen as bragging, if it's negative it's seen as scare-mongering. There is space for every birth story and every birth experience, we just need to allow it. Give her space to share as much or as little as she wants. Listen, talk and reflect with her (if she wants you to) and let her process what has happened, whether this was a positive experience or not. However this reflection unfolds she will thank you for taking the time to listen and be there for her.
5. Call or text in advance to say you are popping by.
I know it sounds lovely to make a surprise visit to a friend with a newborn but it may just be the last thing they need. They may have had a horrendous night and no sleep, or maybe they've just settled the baby to sleep and catching 2 minutes to have a shower themselves. The moment they hear that doorbell they will race down and try to sort their home out to make it visitor-ready. Always giving some warning before dropping by; not so that they have time to tidy but so they can say when it's a good time to visit. Also being mindful of making sure they know you are only visiting for a short time and not out staying your welcome. They will never be bold enough to ask you to leave, not because they don't want you there but probably because they are exhausted. Make sure the visits are short and maybe drop a text when you're home to tell them how well they are doing and that you will pop by soon with groceries (it's much better to just offer up particular help rather than to ask what you can do to help, it takes the pressure off them).
A final bonus number 6: Consider gifting them a Postnatal Doula. Never heard of one? Put simply, a doula is a trained professional support system who is there to lend a hand to new parents. Whether this is to help with feeding, caring for a newborn, helping around the house or cooking meals - they really are sent from heaven! You could buy a couple of hours worth of Doula time or club together with a group of friends to give this amazing gift of support.
Thanks for reading! As always I'd love to hear your birth story or any other themes you would like me to cover on this blog/instagram. Just drop me an email at email@example.com