by Kristen Kardos
Through my own experience as a new mom (three times!), work as a postpartum doula, and exchanges with countless new moms via Rhode Island New Moms Connection, I have heard some of the craziest things…that people say to new moms. Women are often made to feel uncomfortable by others they encounter on the street, at the grocery store, at restaurants – and even in their own home! Sometimes we need to just say nothing-at-all and show our support by doing things that help a new mom: cook her a meal, carry her bags, pick up the item she dropped, hold the door, give her a smile…and leave it at that. But, if we must say something, why not say something like this:
How can I best support you right now?
Having a new baby is hard work. You’re not sleeping much; you’re figuring out how to feed, soothe, and love your new baby. You are likely feeling overwhelmed. If you know someone who is a new mom, ask her what you can do to be helpful! And momma, take that help!!
You’re doing a great job!
Motherhood is a job that doesn’t come with a lot of positive feedback. It’s so nice to hear someone say you’re doing it well. Comments like “The sleepless nights are so hard” – “Your patience with the baby is so amazing” – “I’m impressed with how well you’re able to care for yourself and the baby!” will help her feel good about the job she’s doing. Positive energy…keep it comin’!
Yes, you can nurse here – change baby’s diaper – throw that out – borrow some sugar – use that blanket – bring your baby – drop your toddler off – go upstairs to rest…(you get the idea!) Do what you can to ease mom’s comfort and help things flow more smoothly.
Would you like to…?
New moms need to get out of the house! Motherhood can be lonely and isolating. In addition to joining a new moms group where they’ll make new mom friends, women need the community of friends they’ve had for years to be present ~ even if they don’t have babies of their own. Invite her to tea or for a walk (yes, she can bring the baby). Encourage her to get out and spend time with others. And don’t assume she won’t be interested in the next ladies’ night just because she’s had a baby. Let her decide whether she’s up for going or not.
How are you?
At least 80% of new moms experience some kind of baby blues and an additional 5-10% have postpartum depression or anxiety. Women typically don’t follow up with a midwife or obgyn until 6 weeks after they have their baby ~ which would be a long time to feel sad and hopeless. Ask the new mom how she’s doing; and if things seem really overwhelming, she may want to consider taking the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Assessment to determine if her feelings of sadness are within a “normal” range or if she is depressed and needs additional support. Often times once a baby arrives, all of our attention is on the baby. Momma needs a little love and attention too.
Photos courtesy of Rhode Island New Moms Connection.