There’s a New Baby in the House!
Your best friend/sister/neighbor/co-worker just welcomed a new bundle of joy to the family and you can hardly contain your excitement. You’ve posted the congratulations on Facebook, thoroughly stalked their Instagram account for the photos of those little baby toes, but you absolutely can’t wait until you get a good long sniff of that sweet Baby Head up close and personal.
Before you go banging down the door and shouting “Lemme see that baby!” let’s chat amongst ourselves for just a minute about what New Mom is going through right now and how we can be bringing her what she REALLY wants and needs during this time of transition as she gets to know this new little person who has stolen her heart.
*Note: These suggestions are great for EVERY new mom, regardless of if that new baby has arrived via birth, adoption, foster care, surrogacy, or otherwise. New Baby means Big Transitions and these ideas are applicable for all journeys!
Did you catch our segment on Real Milwaukee? Be sure to check it out and see what our favorite products and tips are for visiting, blessing, and supporting a New Mom!
What a New Mom REALLY Wants
When a newborn baby hits the scene there are four basic categories of New Mom needs:
It’s no secret that a new baby in the house makes sleep a challenge, but that is a very tame way of describing how sleep deprivation can turn a normal human woman into a version of herself she hardly recognizes. The sleep struggle is so very very real and literally anything you can do to get Mama some much-needed rest would be HUGE.
- Give the gift of a white noise machine to help baby sleep as soundly as possible or perhaps a gift certificate for the services of a sleep consultant or a postpartum doula. Another great gift idea would be a visit to Float Milwaukee where she can rest, renew and recharge her mind.
- If you are close enough with Mama, offer to snuggle that baby in the living room for a couple hours while Mama takes a nap in her own bed. Bring along a soothing sleep mask and maybe some heavenly pillow mist or an essential oils diffuser with some lavender oil as a gift and you’ll be her favorite person ever.
Babies need stuff. A LOT of stuff. They also need a lot of care around the clock and the last time we checked, life as usual doesn’t just stop when a new baby arrives. Older siblings still need to be parented and fed and shuttled around, laundry still gets dirty and people still need to eat!
- FOOD. This is the Number #1 request of new moms, hands down. Gone are the days of throwing together Aunt Pamela’s tuna casserole and showing up on the doorstep unannounced! No, ma’am! Instead, hook them up with meal delivery from a service like The Real Good Life or order them groceries from Amazon Fresh. You don’t even have to be able to cook to send food — what a time to be alive! Got some skills in the kitchen? Sign up for the meal train, but make absolutely sure that you TEXT (for the love, DO NOT CALL) well in advance to arrange a drop-off time and be sure not to go in with expectations of hanging out for too long. Remember, Baby needs to eat too, which means the clock is ticking from the second you walk in with your lasagna in hand. Be cool with a quick stop and go! In a pinch, you can always opt for restaurant gift cards (Bonus Points if they deliver!) or UberEats. The gift of food is truly one of the best blessings you can give to a new mom.
- DIAPERS AND WIPES. Lots of them. Bring ’em on. The amount of diapers newborns go through every day is absolutely staggering. Pro Tip: Bring 2 sizes of diapers — one pack of the size Baby wears NOW and another pack of the next size up. You just might be the hero that saves them from a future midnight run to Walgreens.
- MAMA MUST HAVES – Dry Shampoo, simple and healthy snacks, a cute water bottle, cozy socks, actual pajamas, coffee or yummy tea
- SERVICES – Stuff still needs to get done and finding a way to make sure Mama doesn’t have to do it is an awesome way to show you care. Hook her up with a gift certificate for housecleaning or maybe a voucher for a newborn photo shoot!
This is a very general term to define a very big need. We focus so much on what to do and bring for Baby, but new mamas need to feel supported, heard, valued, and that they do NOT have to do it all or understand it all! They need as many things as possible taken off their plate and encouragement in their role as Mama. So, how do we do that?
- Sometimes, the best support you can offer a new mom is by staying away. Yeah, we know that sounds strange, but hear us out. If you are sick, even with just a cough or snotty nose, wait until you are healthy to meet Baby. Nothing, and we mean NOTHING, will stress a new mom out more than her brand new babe being sick and those little immune systems are pretty touchy when they are fresh. And even if you are fit as a fiddle, if Mama just wants some alone time with her little family, be respectful of that and keep your distance until she is ready to welcome visitors.
- If there are older siblings around, it is a HUGE help to entertain them so Mama can have special time with Baby or maybe even get those older kiddos out of the house for a bit. One-on-one time with Baby when there are siblings in the picture can be so precious in those early weeks!
- Listen. When we want so badly to be a huge help and to stand firm as the pillar of support, we can often forget to check to see what the other person is actually comfortable with. Ask Mama flat out what she is comfortable with and respect her wishes. Don’t pry, overextend your welcome or offer unsolicited advice. Often, being the shoulder to cry on or the person who is willing to listen to her vent is the biggest need of all.
- Remember that postpartum doula suggestion? That one works great in this section too!! These wonderful women are dedicated to offering support to New Mama in numerous ways so she can bond with Baby without having to worry about all the other things!
The transition into motherhood is a rough road, no matter what route we take to get there. We can feel isolated, exhausted and overwhelmed. The good news is that there is a whole heap of women who have walked this same road who can carry new moms through.
- Validate her feelings and never try to explain them away. She desperately needs to feel free from all the expectations….all of them. Help her get there.
- Mama is gonna need her girlfriends. And she will need them to love her through a time when she struggles to remember who she was before Baby showed up and to be there as she figures out how to adjust to this new version of herself. When she’s ready, take her out for coffee or lunch or maybe a pedicure — some sort of outing that gives you the chance to connect and talk as adults, even if it is just about how tired you both are!
- This Mama Gig is hard. Sometimes it crosses over from just being “hard” to becoming a struggle beyond what is normal and Mama might need someone she trusts and cares about to point her in the right direction. Knowing the resources available to moms both in her local community and online can literally be a life-saver. (For our Milwaukee Mamas, we can’t recommend Mom’s Mental Health Initiative enough!)
We polled our Contributor Team and asked them this very question: “What did you REALLY want when you were a brand new mom?”
The meal train people did for us was fantastic. I was able to go online and look at the calendar and see what people were bringing when. I think logistically, it’s genius. Also, someone coming over AFTER Dad goes back to work or while Dad is gone. It always felt overwhelming to have everybody swarming around at once in my house. The alone time is when I really wished someone could just hold the baby so I could shower. – Lindsay
Clean my house and do my laundry. (But we’d have to be such good friends I wouldn’t be self-conscious) Let me know when you’re making a Target run. And, I cannot stress this enough, stay away from my newborn if you aren’t vaccinated and/or have even the slightest sniffle. I don’t care how much you want to help, getting my child sick is not helping me. – Kate
Food, coffee & help around the house. Time feeling heard. LOTS of grace. I loved when people brought me their favorite baby things. A giftcard for a massage. Time to take a shower. Naps. – Jill
Honestly, as a first-time parent, I didn’t want/ask for any help. I felt I had to do it all by myself otherwise I wasn’t a good mom. I holed myself up in my house and was terrified to leave. Thankfully my mom picked up on it and would come over and make me get in the shower and would take me to the mall to walk and have lunch. – Alexa
I didn’t want anyone to show up unannounced. I didn’t mind company and actually enjoyed having it while the baby was sleeping after my husband went back to work- as some said above just having someone to talk to was appreciated. I loved it even more if they brought me their fave dry shampoo, a smoothie or easy to grab snacks for nursing. – Jaclynn
I wanted friends who encouraged me to get out of the house. Friends who had kids, who had been-there-done-that and could remind me I wasn’t the first person to ever have a baby. As anxiety-ridden as I was, I needed people who could give me a reality check AND would take the time to get me out of the house! – Callie
A lot of the time I just wanted people to leave us alone and let us adjust especially from one to two kids. It’s weird people like feel hurt if you don’t let them help, but I didn’t want it. What I did want is coffee, wine, food, diapers! The first time around I was uncomfortable nursing and I really wanted people to leave when it was time for her to eat, I scheduled time slots for a reason and people often overstayed their welcome. And be on time! If I said a specific time it was because of our schedule so no, 45 minutes later is not ok. – Shauna
Don’t pry. Let the new mama tell you what she wants. My lens is that of a foster parent who got all sorts of inappropriate questions but I think it applies across the board. – Abby
I wanted freedom from expectations. Some days I wanted visitors, some days I didn’t. I didn’t want angry family/friends when I changed my plan last minute or said I didn’t want to go on a long trip with my new baby. Basically, I wanted to be free of guilt (put on by others) when I was doing what I needed to do my little family in those early months. There are so many adjustments to one kid…then two…expectations from others made some of those moments extremely stressful when they didn’t have to be! – Lauren