How to Support a New Mother
Preparing your family, your home, and your life for a new baby is overwhelming.
Many emotions are present all at once, and you are trying to make sense of it all. Materialistically, you are gathering items you will need for when your baby arrives, you are paying close attention to every physical discomfort and sensation, and fielding questions about your excitement from family and friends. So often in this hustle and bustle, the most important question fails to be asked: “How are YOU doing?” How do you support a new mother?
A great deal of focus is placed on the mother’s physical body and the impending arrival of the baby from the moment pregnancy is announced. An expectant mother is not asked enough how she is truly feeling about it all, what fears and anxieties she may be experiencing. Most times she is not asked how she can be assisted or supported with those emotions. The lack of discussion about an expectant mother’s mental wellbeing continues into her postpartum experience. Education about postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis is provided very little or not at all, so mothers enter this postpartum period not knowing how to identify it if it occurs. Pair this lack of education with the overwhelming expectation to be “over the moon” about your newborn; the pressure to be, say, do everything right and the pressure becomes too much. Somewhere along the way the mother may identify that something is not right, but many of her close family and friends may never know.
Postpartum depression and anxiety impact more women than one would think (rates of PPD by state can be as high as 1 in 5 new mothers according to the Center for Disease Control), and there is a reason many of these women hide in the shadows of it. Many women suffer in silence, believing that they need to continue to “do it all” and that they are weak if they need to ask for help. There is an unspoken, societal expectation to be the above-and-beyond mother, tackle the household chores, return the body back to pre-baby shape (or better) for the partner, all while smiling broadly whilst journaling and scrapbooking every precious moment. A new mother quickly realizes that, in order to get it all done, her mental wellbeing needs to be pushed aside and last on the priority list (or not on the list at all).
The best thing you can do for an expectant or new mother is listen. An attentive ear without judgment can make all the difference. Presence, patience, and an extra pair of hands are what you can provide this new mother with, and she can slowly process and work through the new terrain feeling supported. Share the mother’s wonder, praise her for the incredible feat her whole being overcame (no matter how baby arrived), then turn your attention to her and getting her the help she needs. If she requires medical support, assure her there is no shame in it and continue to walk with her on the journey. Her first days, weeks, and months of motherhood are the ones that will shape her for the rest of her life.
Ways to show love and support a new mom:
- Provide nutritious meals
- Play with her other children
- Rub her shoulders
- Do a load of laundry
- Sit with her
- Make up a snack basket for where she breastfeeds
- Get her a glass of water
- Give her an opportunity to shower and nap
- Be her voice if she gets overwhelmed by visitors
- Let her tell you her birth story as many times as she needs to share it
- Suggest meditation (two helpful apps are Insight Timer and Headspace)
- Paint her nails
- Encourage her and praise her
To share your postpartum experience,
please visit: https://www.allisonlelloshw.com/contribute-postpartum-project/
Tags: new mom support, post pregnancy, postpartum, Postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression, postpartum mom, postpartum support