Friday, April 4, 2014

5 Things Every New Mom Wants to Hear

My postpartum recovery was no walk in the park. Even for moms with quick physical recoveries, this time is marked by blurry eyes, hazy memories, and an uncanny feeling of déjà vu.  I was blessed by the support of my husband, friends, and family and I learned a lot about what new moms most desperately need to hear in those early days. 

1. "I'd like to bring you a meal."
Garfield is not a fan of cute baby onesies
We had many visitors who were excited to see Boo. I won't lie, my favorite visits were those that involved steaming pans of lasagna or homemade chicken noodle soup. Someone thoughtfully brought gift cards for takeout. Some friends brought adorable outfits for Boo and (I'm not proud of this) I bitterly thought to myself, I can't eat that onesie!   Other friends asked if I wanted them to bring a meal, and it put me in an uncomfortable position. I am a person who hates asking for help so of course I said, "No, don't worry about it!"  What I really wanted to say was, "Do I want a meal? Does grass grow? Is pizza delicious? DOES MY DAUGHTER POOP?!?" All new moms are weary anyway, and breastfeeding moms typically eat meals that could feed a small nation. So yes, food is good. "I'm bringing you dinner! What food do you love/hate? What's a good time?" Don't be surprised if your new mom friend falls down and kisses your feet after hearing those words.

2. "It's okay to feel that way."
The first few days/weeks/months are an emotional roller coaster.  Mom's body is on hyper-drive trying to shift from sustaining a baby inside the womb to sustaining that baby by way of her breasts.  Lots of hormones changing.  All the emotions happening.  If she is sad/happy/stabby/nervous reassure her and let her know you're there to listen.  If you think she might be suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) give her a hand in finding the help she needs.

3. "Go take a nap."
After countless visitors visiting and doctors doctoring and lots of bodily fluids uh....flowing, anyone would be beat tired.  Now add in a tiny creature who needs to be fed or changed or cuddled 24/7, and mama's exhausted.  The only reason she may want to stay up would be to chow down on the delicious meal you brought her. ;)

4. "You're doing a great job."
If your mom friend is like me, it's possible she read every word published about pregnancy and childbirth under the sun but for some reason forgot that she would need to care for and nourish this child after the little bug popped out.  For me, most days I was getting by in survival mode and after the chaos died down I realized I hadn't the faintest idea what I was doing. It was simultaneously terrifying and awe-inspiring.  I felt much more confident when another mom held off on the advice for a bit to build me up.

5. "What kind of support do you need from me right now?"
This is where it's important to acknowledge that every mom is different.  I think it's safe to assume that every new mom wants to eat and sleep, but moms have other needs that vary so much from each other.  Some moms need to complain and vent just to get out their frustration.  Others unload to a friend because they need to hear that it's okay to try something different.  If you have even a little doubt about what your friend needs from you, simply ask her.  Tell her that you care about her.  That she's a great mom.  And that you want to provide whatever support she needs, whether that's simply an ear to listen without judging, a referral to a lactation consultant, or an account of your experience and what worked for you.  I'm often guilty of automatically providing support to other moms that I know I would need in that situation, but sometimes that's the opposite of what they want.  Listen - truly listen - and let her know that you are there for her no matter what.

What was your postpartum experience like?  What was the best thing a friend said to you?

No comments:

Post a Comment