How to support a new mum – Practical Advice for Visitors
One of the most important and meaningful things visitors can gift new mothers isn’t baby clothes, flowers, balloons or items. (While they are nice).
What new mothers need is your presence. Your time, your non- judgemental support, your practical help around the home or with baby.
One of the best ways you can do that is by opening up a line of communication and working together, to become a village of support that new mothers desperately need.
How to support a new mum – Practical Advice for Visitors here!
1. Your Presence, not so much presents
Many new mothers experience isolation and loneliness.
Starved of adult conversation and connection many mothers are home alone with no one to talk to, cry to or share their journey with.
New mums needs a supportive circle around them they can turn to!
Pregnancy, birth and motherhood are on the biggest journeys we as humans can travel down.
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the postnatal period as the most critical and yet the most neglected phase in the lives of mothers and babies; most maternal and newborn deaths occur during the postnatal period.
Many new mothers are homebound for at least 6 weeks while they heal from pregnancy and birth and learn to adjust with life with a newborn baby.
Sleep deprivation, birth trauma, anxiety, tearing, cesarean section and PND are some factors that can make it difficult for a mother to get out of home during the first weeks and months after birth.
You can make a difference by showing up and showing your presence.
Checking in with a new mother by phone calls and scheduling visits when the mother and baby feel up to physical visits.
2. Physical In- Home Visits
When visiting a new mother, baby and family it’s important to understand that this is a vulnerable time.
A time of adjustment, healing and bonding with this newborn baby.
Many new mothers need hands on practical support, and visitors who are welcomed into their home and lives during this time need to provide emotional and practical support as much as possible.
Some ways you can help out a new family:
- Have a chat with the expectant couple before the baby is born and discuss ways in which you would like to support them – this opens a conversation and reasonable expectations can be set.
- Pop on a load of washing and hang out – bring some in (fold some baby clothes)
- Bring around some nourishing home cooked meals,or jump in the kitchen and whip up something!
- Making a cup of tea or bringing a nourishing snack for mother and dad!
- Hire a cleaner to help with cleaning
- Pay for a meal delivery service
- Provide gentle guidance and non- judgemental support
- Purchase a Journey into Motherhood Membership (where the mother can be supported for 12- months and connected with a like-minded community of mothers) Check it out here!
3. Breastfeeding takes time & support!
Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t always come naturally.
It is a learnt skill that both mother and baby need to take time learning and practicing.
This means feeling comfortable and safe to be able to breastfeed without worry of judgement or making someone feel uncomfortable.
Breastfeeding a baby in the early days, weeks and months can be time consuming and is often referred to as a full time job, clocking up to 8 hours or more a day!
It’s tiring and a new mother needs nourishing food, plenty of clear fluid and rest to be able to produce enough milk for her new baby.
Oxytocin also helps with the breastmilk let down, which means a mother needs to feel safe and be surrounded by things that bring her peace and joy to reduce stress and worry (which decreases oxytocin).
You can support a breastfeeding mother by:
- Being supportive
- Holding baby for a while when the mother needs a break to have a meal (even if the baby is crying) – Mothers need breaks to!
- Providing a comfortable space for mother and baby
- Bringing snacks and water/ cups of tea
- Getting up to date with breastfeeding facts here
- Don’t wear perfume as babies need to smell the mother and her milk – strong smells can disrupt the hormones
- Do not smoke near a baby, if you do smoke wash your hands and change your clothes when and if possible
4. Encouragement & words of affirmation
As I mentioned before the postpartum period and transition into motherhood, whether this is the first baby or fifth is a very vulnerable time.
The rise in hormones, the healing from pregnancy, birth and navigating life with a newborn baby is challenging and sometimes stressful time.
Gentle and loving encouragement and words of affirmation is sometimes all a new mother needs to hear.
Tell a new mother she is doing a wonderful job, that she is an amazing mother, compliment her on how she looks, how she is managing in this huge transition.
Love here, listen to her, comfort her, mother her.
There is often so much attention directed to this gorgeous new bundle of joy – that often the new mother gets left behind.
Remember the mother will spill any extra love and kindness she receives out onto her baby and will be able to care for her baby better if she is supported during this time.
5. The Stats!
- 1 in 3 women in Australia experience birth trauma.
- 1 in 7 women experience Post Natal Depression
- 33% of women in Australia have major surgery to birth their baby by C-section.
And a large number of mother’s experience exhaustion, sleep deprivation and isolation.
Unfortunately many new mothers slip through the cracks and do not receive the support they need during postpartum.
Often health care providers are not trained to support and assist mothers during this time.
Many mothers do not know what it is they are feeling, besides feeling a deep sadness during a time they know they should feel happiness.
Not wanting to cause trouble, or show they are “ungrateful” many suffer in silence.
Spending time confused, angry, upset, ashamed and scared with no one to talk to about their struggles.
6. Your Support Matters
If you are part of a new families life, your support matters more than you can know.
A kind and loving gesture will mean the world to a new family. Showing up and being present!
Helping with practical in home support or a non-judgmental ear will make a huge difference to a new mothers journey.
They say it takes a village to raise a baby, I saw it takes a village to raise a mother!
If you are reading this article and wanting to support a new mother, thank you so much for showing up. I mean that truly from the bottom of my heart.
If you want to talk to someone about how to navigate this journey or would like to be pointed to some helpful resources please don’t be a stanger – I’d be happy to help!
Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org