Even after months of planning and anticipation, a new mom is never truly prepared for what's in store -- welcoming baby is a joyous occasion, but long nights, fatigue and recovery can take a toll. Happily, anyone can make this transitory period (yes, it gets better) a little bit easier for a new mom. Most ways you can help are pretty easy and may seem like no sweat to you, but they'll be greatly appreciated by the new mom in your life.
In no particular order, here's a list of some things you can do that just might make a new mom's life less stressful. Obviously you don't need to do everything (you're seriously awesome if you do!). And remember to offer; don't wait for her to ask. Many new moms aren't very good at realizing they really do need help.
1. Tell her you're there for her. This might sound like a "duh," but letting a new mom know you're there if she needs you might help her notice that she really does need you. Plus, just knowing you care can mean so much.
2. Visit her in the hospital. So long as you get the OK, poking your head inside her hospital room to make sure things are kosher -- and maybe bring along some tasty takeout -- is a great idea. There's a good chance your friend will need a nap ... or two ... or three. And you can hold the baby for her (after a good hand-washing, of course).
3. Offer to pick up last-minute needs. Your new-mom friend might need some Advil, a gallon of milk, some sanitary pads. Enter Wonder BFF.
4. Are you down with cooking a meal or two? Consider yourself a new personal chef for your friend. It can seem like an feat to prep a dinner with a newborn. Even if it's mac and cheese, it's amazing to her.
5. Stock her freezer with meals. Make a couple meals that are easy to stash in the freezer (lasagna, chili, etc.). That way, on crazy days when she feels like she has no time to prep dinner, she can just defrost, heat, and eat!
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6. Throw in a load of laundry. There's a good chance your new-mom friend has a pile of dirty laundry that's dying to be washed. Help a sister out.
7. Help with baby duty. Look, mommies will take what they can get when it comes to extra hands. Whether you have 20 minutes, a few hours, half a day, or a weekend, nothing says "I love you" quite like changing a dirty diaper while she vacuums, naps, or just hangs out. You'll enjoy some baby cuddle time too.
8. Create a "healing kit." It doesn't matter if she delivered vaginally or via Cesarean, she's got some healing to do. Even if she took a few supplies home from the hospital, a few extra ice packs never hurt anyone.
9. Come bearing gifts. "God bless you for bringing that chocolate bar." Think about the edible -- or drink, should wine be her thing -- your friend complained about wanting throughout her pregnancy, but couldn't have. Lunch meat. Sushi. Chardonnay. It doesn't matter.
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10. Visit just so Mommy can have a shower moment. Nothing beats an uninterrupted shower.
11. Lend a listening ear. Sometimes, all someone wants is to be heard. Call to check in on your friend from time to time, and become a sounding board, as she's likely experiencing a range of emotions.
12. Help clean the house. Obviously you aren't a maid service, but there's nothing wrong with helping a new mom with some light dusting or toilet scrubbing.
13. Pick up/drop off her other kids. You could be a huge saving grace to any mom who has older children with a packed schedule of after-school activities and sporting events to attend.
14. Watch baby in the other room. Sometimes your friend just needs a little silence and "me time."
15. Run a few errands. No one says you need to become a personal assistant, but isn't it easy for you to drop off her dry cleaning for her and pick up a pack of diapers?
16. Plan a day of pampering. Ready those hair products and nail polish, this mama might want to feel like her pre-birth self again. Obviously a trip to the day spa would be awesome, but in the event your gal pal isn't feeling up to it, bring the experience to her home -- by blow-drying her hair and doing her nails.
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17. Rent movies and order takeout. Consider this a "Netflix and chill" event that's strictly for friends.
18. Walk her pet or take him off her hands for an afternoon. Hey, animals need love too. And Fido might be feeling a bit neglected since baby arrived.
19. Babysit for a "day date," or date night. She and her partner could use some baby-free time together.
20. Give the gift of loungewear. Comfy slippers and breathable pajamas are never a bad idea.
21. Keep hand sanitizer in your pocket, and use it when you're around baby. You might want to keep two bottles if your friend is a first-time mother.
22. Consider getting the Tdap vaccine. Okay, this one definitely goes beyond the call of friend duty, but there are some mommies who want those in their camp to get a shot that can help prevent the spread of whooping cough, since it can be serious and even fatal for babies.
23. Go easy on the perfume. Newborns are susceptible to fragrance-related rashes and reactions, so please, oh please, refrain from the eau de toilette while you're around one.
24. Use your inside voice. "Hey girl!" Don't be surprised if you get a side eye or two for being too loud -- especially if the baby is sleeping.
25. Go easy on the advice. It's great that you want to bestow your wisdom onto your friend, but please try not to bombard her with so much advice that you make her feel inadequate or overwhelmed.
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26. Be an encourager. In addition to trying to navigate being a parent, your new-mom friend may find issues can arise that include body image and adjusting to emotional changes. Be positive when talking to your friend.
27. Don't take things personally. Your friend just snapped at you a bit? Remember, hormones are all over the charts as the body makes adjustments post-baby. Don't get mad at her; sympathize.
28. Give her space if she wants it. Not every new mom wants a bunch of people around her. Your friend may be helped the most by having a little space. Not sure what's best for her? Just ask.
What are some other ways to help a new mom?
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