Although this topic is nothing new, it’s an important conversation that’s worth discussing time and time again! We are making strides in the right direction. Slowly, we are replacing a ‘bounce back’ culture that promotes self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy with a new dialogue—one that acknowledges what it truly means to become a new mama, the incredible physical and mental strength required to bring a tiny, new human into the world.
Part of this shift involves fewer words commenting on where a new mama ‘should’ be and more actions supporting a new mama exactly where she is. So how can we all support postpartum mamas?
Navigating new motherhood is full of all sorts of emotions. There is the joy, gratitude, and intense love. But there is also the fatigue, blues, and even frustration as a new mama and baby learn all about one another. With all of these emotions and changes, respecting a new mama’s boundaries is so important. Some of the ways to do this include:
Asking a new mom to share her boundaries and comfort level with you before making any assumptions. These might be related to COVID-19, activities, visitors, care for mom and/or baby, or anything else that a new mama has determined is important to her.
Being mindful of the advice and recommendations we offer to a new mama. While, most of the time, it is only with the best of intentions, sometimes, it is best to resist offering unsolicited advice. Statements like “Oh, my baby always did ____, it always helped when I did _____” can undermine the uniqueness of each mother-baby relationship and instill self-doubt. Rather than correcting, consider ways to acknowledge little victories, like how content the baby is when they are in their mama’s arms.
Making sure visits are welcome and not overextended, since we should not assume that any time is okay to ‘come see the baby.’ While some mamas may want visitors and company around the clock, others might feel very strongly about having their space and time to connect with their new little love and family unit before opening their doors to guests (especially during COVID-19).
Bring a meal or help around the house
Balanced, nourishing food will help support a new mama’s mood (by balancing blood sugar) and overall well-being. Providing a healthy, prepared meal can mean so much and help save much-needed time and energy. What’s more, offer to help with any household chores around the house. Maybe it’s a stack of dirty dishes in the sink or a quick load of laundry that can be picked up off the floor—anything that might help tidy and freshen up the environment in which a new mom is spending much of her time.
We all know how good it feels to have our space organized. When you offer to help with these little tasks, that means a new mom might actually try ‘sleeping when the baby sleeps’ instead of worrying about getting everything done when her baby is finally napping.
Watch the baby so mama can take some time for herself
It can be challenging for new mamas to prioritize time for themselves, despite this being a critical component of mental and physical well-being with proven preventative or therapeutic measures for perinatal depression.
Taking time for herself looks unique to every new mama; it might involve going for a walk, socializing with others, taking a bath, or going to the gym. It is simply taking some time away from caring for her infant and other daily responsibilities to focus on personal self-care needs.
Consider offering support to a postpartum mama in this way so she can take time for herself—perhaps even going one step further and offering regularly scheduled help so mama prioritizes her self-care.
Please feel free to share what helped you feel supported and nurtured as a new mom—we would love to hear your experience!