Pssssst. If you're close to someone who is pregnant or has a baby, this is for you.
New parents are in a sensitive state: sleep deprivation, the emotional
rollercoaster of birth and the pressure of trying to maintain their households (or jobs) takes its toll. Most cultures do not expect people to resume their former lives after the birth. They have traditions for supporting the growing family.
Mothers are strained the most--babies require round the clock care when new mamas are recovering from birth. Breastfeeding takes up a lot of time and energy in the first few weeks. Because our culture does not recognize the need for extra help in a baby's first weeks, many moms feel inadequate.
Here's how you can help.
*BE GENTLE! HOW you offer help is as important as WHAT you offer. Be sure to listen to what they want. Be respectful of their space and time--as much as they want to share their baby with you, they also need to rest.
*FOOD: New parents need to eat, but have little to no time to shop, cook or prepare food. There are many ways options: home-cooked casseroles, frozen foods, take-out. The point is to get them food and not expect to be entertained in the process. Drop it on their porch or have it delivered.
*HOUSEHOLD HELP: This is can be a little more complicated, depending on how well you know the new parents. If they aren't using a service, they'll definitely appreciate help with laundry, running dishwasher, vaccuuming, and generally straightening up.
*ERRANDS: Running to the store, dry cleaner, can become very challenging with a newborn. Ask if they need anything from the drug or grocery store.
*OLDER CHILDREN/PETS: If this is not their first baby, the older children will really need extra attention. Playdates and park outtings can be a real life saver. Additionally, if they have pets, offer to help with their needs, too.
By giving REAL help, you take the pressure off of parents who may feel overwhelmed and not know how to ask you to bring them lunch or take their two year old to the playground. It's too vague to say, "Let me know if you need anything." Step up with specific suggestions.
I'll be sharing more specific techniques on how to assemble or be a part of a Welcome Baby Team at Natural Beginnings on Feb. 28, 2013 at 8pm. If you're expecting your first (or third) or if you know someone who is, please come! This presentation is for the whole Welcome Baby Team--Grandparents, relatives, neighbors are encouraged to attend. Donations will benefit the Having Healthy Babies Foundation. For more information: www.naturalbeginningsNJ.com
Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Counselor, Mother of Three.