“Keep your unsolicited advice to yourself!” 5 practical ways to support a new mama
When our friends join the New Parent Club, it’s only natural to wonder how you can help them feel supported. You’re probably wondering what is the best way to support a new mum, or how do you make a new mum feel special.
Even if you’re a parent yourself, it can be a minefield trying to cast your mind back to those newborn days and remember what you found beneficial (home-cooked meals, always!).
As a mum of two myself, I have specialised in working with new mums in an exercise environment for over 15 years, I have had the opportunity to offer support in a variety of ways. Here, I share my top five ways to support a new mama.
1. Choose helpful gifts
Look, we’ve all been guilty of getting overexcited when a friend has a bub and buying cutesy outfits and beautiful, plush toys. While adorable, they aren’t very practical. When buying presents for a new mama, think about items that will either nurture them or make their life with a baby easier; things like a cleaner for some time, meal deliveries, or even your own babysitting services would be hugely appreciated.
2. Help her to prioritise her own self-care
Not for her baby, or to be “the best mum she can be” but because she is still a woman who deserves it for herself. Self-care for mums is hard so any support you can give her to help her with this aspect is welcome. Maybe you can offer to mind the baby while she gets a massage or a nap, or perhaps it’s as simple as checking in on her regularly to see how she’s really doing.
3. Keep your unsolicited advice to yourself – even if you mean well
This one is so important. Remember, new mums are bombarded with information from all angles, all the time! Adding to this is not at all helpful and may add to her stress. If you would like to offer some words of wisdom from your own experience, consider asking her if she would like to hear them first.
4. Hold the baby… or don’t hold the baby!
Some new mums would absolutely love the opportunity to eat a meal with both hands or escape out of the door baby-free for a short time and others may be struggling to let you know that they have an unsettled child who is made worse when being passed from one well-meaning friends’ arms to another. Ask her what is helpful for her before assuming and don’t be offended if you don’t get the newborn baby cuddles on this occasion.
Another thing that is music to a new parent’s ears? Letting them know you’re fully up to date with your vaccinations, including your whooping cough jab. Also never visit a newborn if you’re feeling unwell. What’s a harmless cold to you can be extremely dangerous for a vulnerable baby with no immune system.
5. Make sure she is aware of the benefits of seeing a women’s or pelvic health physiotherapist
As an exercise professional who specialises in working with mums, I believe that the best way to support a new mother is to help her to understand her body from the inside out. After nine months of pregnancy and birth, our pelvic floors need some major TLC! So many new mums still believe that their six-week check-up is the all-clear to return to the exercise she was doing before they became pregnant, and they are left not fully understanding what happened to their body during their birth experience.
Her body can feel unknown, and it can be extremely confusing knowing what to do next. The role of a WHP/PHP is to assess her pelvic floor and abdominal wall and to ensure that she knows where she is right now and the best next steps for her recovery and return to the exercise or movement of her choice. To help her to find a physio in her area you can guide her to MumSafe Physios.
Of course, there are many more ways that you can offer your support to a new mum during what can be an incredibly challenging time. The key, I believe, is to think of them over yourself and to remember that your experience is not theirs.
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