Why takeaways are important if your friend has just given birth…
Being the friend of a first-time Mama
Hello, lovlies! Sorry for the massive delay in updating this blog – I’ve been off travelling, and learning lots about how different people around the world handle this whole pregnancy and birth thing.
I spent a month in Bali and Lombok (Indonesia), and one thing which struck me there is how much care the community takes of a new mother and baby in the first 40 days after birth.
I’ll go into the details in another post, but the idea is that the mother is looked after as well as the baby. It’s recognised that this is a transition period, and a time where some TLC is required for the adults as well as the babies.
This got me thinking about how we look after newly-formed families in the West. It can be a difficult time – we don’t always live near our own families, and friends are spread far and wide.
If you don’t yet have children of your own, it can be hard to know what to do for the best for that new Mama in your life. So here are some suggestions for ways to be an excellent friend when your friend has just produced her first sproglet.
(You will know what works best for your own friends better than I do, of course. Everyone’s different.)
The way to a new parent’s heart is through their stomach
Feed your friend! By any means possible. Send food. Turn up with food in an obviously disposable container (they won’t have the time or brain space to wash things up and send them back to you). They might well be bored of lasagne, but easily-freezable stuff with the date on the lid is fab. Stews, soups, curries…. Frankly, it doesn’t matter, so long as you know they aren’t allergic to any of the ingredients.
Hopeless at cooking? Get some posh ready meals from the supermarket to bung in the fridge.*
Live miles away? Send vouchers for the local takeaway.
Honestly, food by any means is crucial. Your friends are trying to keep alive an entire human being that doesn’t come with an instruction manual. They will forget to eat. Going to the shops will seem like a mission too far (for the first little while). Send them food!
Oh, and don’t forget puddings (a friend of mine survived the first few weeks entirely on muffins which another kind friend had sent. She said it was the difference between eating and not). Puddings are the best bit.
Keep in touch (but don’t expect anything in return)
In the first couple of weeks, about a billion people will want to see the baby. They are so squishy and cute! New grandparents are thrilled for your friend and want to see how she is doing.
It can, however, all be a bit overwhelming for the new family and baby.
And after the first fortnight – boom. Everyone vanishes.
Partners head back to work, the stream of visitors dwindles down…
…and your friend is left holding the baby, worried that everyone will find out she is a terrible parent, she will never be able to leave the house again because it is too complicated, and nobody will want to see her anyway because she hasn’t been able to have a shower and thinks she smells.
(She doesn’t, but extreme tiredness and wonky hormones can make this time not much fun.)
This, dear friend, is where you come in.
If you are nearby, arrange to visit when the baby is a bit older.
Keep visits short, and always bring food (bread, milk and loo roll are good offerings).
Send texts with little updates about your day.
Ask how your friend is feeling. Listen to her.
If you aren’t nearby, you can always send texts and emails.
Make it clear you don’t need a reply.
Just letting someone else know you are thinking of them will mean a lot.
One thing: Under No Circumstances Ring The Landline Or Doorbell Unless You Are Feeling Very Very Brave.
You don’t want to be the friend that woke the baby.
She might not want you to hold the baby
This might be a relief, if you aren’t that keen on very small children.
There are some interesting bonding hormonal things going on when new parents are being made. Sometimes, it means that they don’t want you to hold the baby.
Or they might want you to hold the baby with the rational part of their brain. But the secret-must-keep-the-baby-alive-at-all-costs ancient cave part of their brain might make them start feeling twitchy about having the baby back.
So don’t assume you’ll get a cuddle. And if you do, make sure you wash your hands first (little babies haven’t got great germ defences, yet) and offer to hand the cherub back every so often.
By the time your friend has baby number five, you will be greeted at the door and have the child flung into your arms, ready or not.
But the first one? Well, they’ve still got time to be a bit protective 🙂
You don’t have to know any of the answers
One thing that worried me when I first started learning how to be a Doula was that – as I hadn’t had my own children – I wouldn’t have a clue what to do or suggest.
I’ve discovered that this can actually be an advantage.
Why? Because your friends will already know the answers about what is best for them and their baby.
They just need you to point this fact out at times.
And if they need help with something specific, there are lots of support groups out there that cover everything from feeding to helping parents work out what kind of baby sling to buy.
So you don’t need to know the answers. Just listen, reassure your friends that you still love them and think they are fab, and get good with Google if they need info on local specialist support (doulas call that ‘signposting’).
There’s lots of support out there
From post-partum doulas to free helplines and groups of friends getting together to do a meal rota, there is help out there for new families. Sometimes, they are too shy to ask – so don’t be afraid to offer specific help.
Nobody will be upset with you if you turn up with loo roll and cake at regular intervals.
And if you are looking for a gift for a friend far away, I can’t help but put in a plug for the ‘New Mama Welcome Pack’.
It’s an email-based gift (no postage fees!) which is designed to offer support and encouragement to new mothers.
Every other day, and email is sent with a specially-made gift that is designed to be supportive of someone who has recently become a Mum/Mom.
From mini blog-posts sharing ‘been there, and here’s my poo story’ detail to advice on how to change careers during maternity leave, there’s something to cover every angle of being a new mother.
(I’ve seen the contents because I am one of the authors… I almost want to have a baby, now, just so I can read it all again!)
It’s a lovely, unusual gift that focuses just on her and not the baby.
Because as much as you love your friend’s new baby, your friend is the reason that you are suddenly reading a site about birth…
Find out more about the New Mama Welcome Pack here (link opens in new window).
What have you done for your friends who have recently given birth? If you’ve got children, what was the kindest/most useful thing that someone did for you? Please let me know in the comments below and we can spread the love onto the next batch of new parents 🙂
*Yes, yes, I know some of you are going to be all like ‘Additives! Microwaves! Cheating!’ Whatever… you are saving your friends from a diet made entirely of a three year-old jar of pickle and some soggy rice cakes. Because we all know what gets left at the back of the cupboard…
Being a first-time mama is an amazing experience. The New Mama Welcome Pack blog hop is a celebration of this life changing event! Follow the links to discover more unmissable advice, stories and essential tips. And if you’re a new mama who wants to rock motherhood without guilt, overwhelm or losing yourself, check out the New Mama Welcome Pack here.
New Mama Welcome Pack / Lotte Lane / Dreaming Aloud / Birthing in Conscious Choice / Natalie Garay / Knecht Ruprecht / Lise Meijer / Naomi Goodlet / A Lifestyle By Design / Story of Mum / Like a Bird / Holistic Mama / Birth Geek / Joyful Parenting / Stroller Packing / My Healthy Beginning / Mums and More / Kate Beddow – Growing Spirits / Ellen Nightingale / Stacie Whitney / Maternity Leavers / Photography for Busy Parents / Close Enough To Kiss / Atelier Susana Tavares / Offbeat Family / Katie m. Berggren ~ Painting Motherhood / Winship Wellness Blog / Liberate From Weight / Jessica Cary / Raising Playful Tots / Peaceful Mothering / Play Activities / Lauren Nenna / The Adventure Mama / Be Wise Be Healthy / Doula in Your Pocket / Making Mom Strong / Adrienn Csoknyay / Joyful Parents / Simple Solutions for Photos / Lynne Newman / Mumpreneur Mentor / A Walk in the Clouds / Parenting on the Fence / MiaMily
Takeaway image by neekoh.fi