Motherhood

What New Moms Really Need After Having a Baby

Posted by Anneliese Lawton

I’ve been a new mom three times now. That means three different babies with three different needs and three different postpartum recoveries. It’s been a ride, and I’ve learned so much along the way. While my husband and I decided to cap our children at three (sealed with a vasectomy), I often regret that we never tried to have a fourth. I’ve grown in leaps and bounds as a mother. With newfound confidence (and fewer craps when it comes to judgment), I could genuinely embrace babyhood if we did it all again.

Alas, the shop is closed - but the lessons remain. While I could go on and on (and on) about the lessons I’ve learned in my years of parenting, I want to share a different perspective. One that puts our mothers first. Because truth be told, despite our best intentions, mothers tend to fall through the cracks. You may be surprised that there are moments we even feel forgotten. For example, some of the ways family and friends celebrate the arrival of a new baby.

When my first baby was born, family and friends lined up outside my hospital room the way people line up for an iPhone unveiling. Equip with lawn chairs and granola bars (one may have even brought a camping stove, I can’t be sure); they waited through 22-hours of my labour.

Once we were back home, our front door was oscillating with visitors. Some brought food, some brought coffee, some brought gifts for the baby - and some brought nothing. While I tried to appreciate visitors who overstayed their welcome and the wide assortment of onesies, there were several things I certainly needed more.

Here are a few gifts every new mom desperately needs, wants, desires,....you get the point.

The Gift of Consideration

My number one gift for moms (and new parents) is the gift of consideration. Meaning:

  • Do check-in. Ask how the parents are adjusting to life with their new baby and if there is anything they need. They will likely say no. Proceed to bring one of the gifts listed here.
  • Do not invite yourself over. Look, I want to smell that fresh baby smell as much as the next guy, but new parents have a lot on their plate (and it’s not hot food). Let the parents know that you would like to visit when the time is right for them.
  • If invited, arrive with something to eat and drink, and don’t overstay your welcome. A good rule of thumb is to stay an hour - tops - unless otherwise directed.

The Gift of Food

I’ve been a mom for five years now, and for the last five years, I’ve basically survived off toast. Time is of the essence when you’re a parent - and when it comes down to deciding whether you should eat, clean, shower, or sleep - something has got to give.

One of the most thoughtful things you can do for a new mom is to make eating food as easy as possible (aka already prepped). No chopping. No mixing. No cooking. Bring something ready-to-eat that can be easily popped in the oven or microwave. Bonus points if it’s moderately healthy.

The Gift of a Clean Home

New parents feel this bizarre pressure to be the ultimate host...I did, at least. A few days postpartum, I was whipping up muffins and coffee while hobbling around in my mesh undies. And after all of that, some guests didn’t give me the decency of putting their plates in the dishwasher. Here are a few ways you can help while still respecting boundaries:

  • Ask! “Hey, what can I do to help?” Now, new parents also have a lot of pride behind those baggy eyes, so they’ll probably say no. But they’ll appreciate the offer.
  • Clean up after yourself (and them, too). Did you have coffee together? Rinse off those mugs (and anything else in the sink) and put them away. It’s a small and simple gesture that makes a significant impact.
  • Have tons of money and nowhere to spend it? Gift a cleaning service. If they have a second kid, they’ll probably name it after you.

The Gift of Time Alone

I have to be honest...I didn’t want ANYONE to hold my baby. It made me incredibly anxious (which is a topic to discuss all on its own), but it made things like “alone time” difficult. While “alone time” probably would have had to be adapted to my own level of comfort, time for a nap, a quick shower, or simply time to brush my teeth would have been greatly appreciated.

Here’s the other thing...a new baby eventually becomes old news, and people start to disappear. By the end of month two, parents are often left fending for themselves. Call your friends and offer to babysit and throw in a gift card for dinner–anything that allows them to get out of the house and rekindle the romance. Again, do this...and they’ll probably name a kid after you.

The Gift of a “Get Out of Jail Free Card”

Here’s the truth. New parents, parents with young children can’t always take the time to go out with friends....but we still want to be invited. We want to feel connected to that old, wild, young, and free side of us from time to time. Sometimes though, we don’t want to go out, we’d rather sleep instead. This is where you need to be *understanding*. Please don’t tell new parents to just “hire a sitter” (sitters are expensive), or that they need the night out (we know we do), or that they’re changed since becoming a mom (of course, they’ve changed!). If your mom-friend says no, kindly accept it and invite them out the next time. If they say yes - give them the best darn time they’ve ever had (and lay off when they check on their baby for the fifth time in ten minutes).

You may have noticed many of these gifts were simple acts of kindness and FREE. While physical gifts are always loved and appreciated, there is nothing new moms value more than your support. By the time my third baby rolled around, no one really cared. They’d already seen the genetic combo of my husband and me...twice...and we were six months into a pandemic. We were truly on our own island alone. But the thing is, I needed support more than ever. Being a new parent is just as jarring each time you do it. Parents, especially moms, still need your support despite the number of children they’ve had. *Oh, that reminds me: if the family has multiple kids - bring a gift for big brother(s) or sister(s) - keeping the older kids occupied while caring for a baby is tough work!*

With any one of these items on this list, you’ll be sure to weave yourself into a special and very permanent spot in their hearts. We honestly never forget the people who show up for us (and not just to see the baby).