5 Ways to Be a Good Friend to a New Mom

I know many of you aren’t moms or expectant moms (yet) so this blog post is especially for you. Because you know, I don’t want you to have FOMO reading these #MommyMonday posts. Along with the lie that every pregnancy is an amazing time, I believe that society and the media has made the women who aren’t having the baby believe that they’re helping by saying or doing or not doing certain things. There are some things people just say because it’s the polite thing to say when someone has a baby, but don’t really think it through or have any intention of doing it. Don’t be that person.

Here are five ways to be a good friend, or sister, to a new mommy.

1. Don’t just offer to help

Your heart’s definitely in the right place, if you offer to help. But when you do, please then actually help. I know you may be waiting for her to take you up on your offer by calling or messaging you to and being specific about how you can help her. But giving birth is overwhelming and takes a toll on your body physically and mentally. For a long while, your friend or sister probably won’t even know what day of the week it is. So make things easy for her and just do. How? Take things off her plate. The more the better, it’ll make a ton of difference. Of course, many things will fall off the list but the key, mundane ‘little’ things still need to get done. Do her groceries, take baby off her hands, run a couple of errands. Just because she had a baby doesn’t mean her responsibilities have magically vanished. And unfortunately her hubby will probably only get the standard 3 days’ paternity leave (ridiculous) and has a ton of other things to handle himself.

2. Let her sleep

Visiting the baby is all good and well. It’s much appreciated. What’s even more appreciated is if you let new mama rest while you’re there. So if you have a couple of hours or even just one, go over to the house and while you’re oogling over the baby, let mommy take a nap. I’ve seen it in person where guests still expect to be hosted in a way, while they’re visiting mommy and baby (which I think is pretty inconsiderate). If you’re around when that happens, let mama rest and take over the hosting for a bit. Make the guests a cuppa or grab some easy snacks for them. If she’s your friend, you probably have an idea of where key things are in the kitchen anyways.

3. Tidy up

A lot of household chores are still left up to the woman of the house. So even after giving birth, there may be quite a few tasks for her to do in between ummm recovering. I’m hoping that your friend has a husband who has a few domesticated cells in his body and can lend a hand, but let’s face it, many still don’t or don’t do it properly. So put a load of laundry in, wash some dishes, iron. The golden one? Cook! I had no idea how much I’d appreciate my mom and mother-in-law making food for us and freezing it so we had a supply to eat for a couple of weeks. It takes up time and energy your friend is so scarce on, but she’s gotta eat! Even if you don’t or can’t cook, no one will turn away a Woolies roasted chicken – I know I didn’t. So much goes on in a day with a newborn and breastfeeding makes you ravenous. If hubby can’t cook for whatever reason, this is a lifesaver – literally.

4. Spoil her

A lot of times, people forget mommy at a baby shower. Of course the whole point is to help the expectant mom by showering her with gifts for her baby. She’s probably feeling fat, ugly and sweaty so something for herself would be a much appreciated pressie. Instead of buying another pack of cute onesies for her baby shower, try to give her something for herself. I recently gave a friend her requested baby registry gift and added a little pamper hamper with nice smelling bath salts, lotions etc. just for her. After having a baby you feel so run down, a little treat for yourself is much needed and it feels less guilty when someone else gets it for you. I received a lot of presents for my two (yes, two!) baby showers but the one that really touched me and made me cry? A voucher to Sorbet. And boy did I cash that in as soon as I could leave the house for a couple of hours. I’m paying that forward and getting something for both baby and mommy for my expectant mommy friends.

5. Take her out

New moms are advised to limit the time we’re out and about with our newborns. At least for the first 6-8 weeks. And if you’re breastfeeding, you and your baby become one. Yes you fall in love with your baby but cabin fever is real and can get quite disorientating. As much as I loved having friends come over to visit and meet my boy, I was itching to leave the house for some fresh air. Going up the road with a friend to grab a coffee and brownie was like going on a beach holiday. Even as Kai has gotten older, many people want to meet with me somewhere but want me to take him with for lunch. I get it, you want to see the baby but she might need a break from being a mom and would like to put her girl friend hat on. So offer to see baby at the house for half an hour, coo over the baby but then take her out of the house so she can get some downtime. Or babysit while she goes out on her own. If all of that isn’t possible, you can’t personally make it or you don’t have the time, send her a voucher, order some chocolates to be delivered to her. Just something for her to still feel a bit more human.

So, I hope this has helped you to help her. As mentioned, I know your heart’s in the right place but you may not know how to actually be helpful. Your presence at such a time is appreciated but one or two considered gestures will go a long way. Some women are blessed to live near family or belong to cultures where the women come together to help with the every day tasks to let mommy rest properly. Others aren’t that lucky and may not have family living nearby, or their house is too small to accommodate people. If you know your friend has that tight support system, some of these things may already be taken care of, but it doesn’t hurt to contribute somehow.

Non-mamas: What do you think? Have the tips above helped you?

Mamas: What gestures did/would you have appreciated from your close friends and family?

Photography by Clarke Sanders

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8 Comments

  1. Kachee
    August 10, 2017 / 11:59 pm

    These are great tips Aisha! And the cooking (or ordering food for her) seems like such a valid point.
    Will be sharing this link in my blog fun links round up.

    http://www.KacheeTee.com

    • Aisha O'Reilly
      September 4, 2017 / 5:45 pm

      Thank you Kachee, it’ll be much appreciated 🙂

  2. Amanda
    August 10, 2017 / 1:35 pm

    love the blog post Aisha! having been a new mommy twice and a soon to be new mommy again in a few months!, i know how real the struggle can get!… I think helping with the older kids can be so helpful. or just letting her sleep while you help with baby. i have found sometimes as a new mom, you smell like milk and baby poo and dont even have time to take a shower, so instead of going to visit new mommy and expecting to find tea and cookies. go over in your tracksuit pants (so as not to make her feel out of place lol) and help tidy up, give her a new lotion/body wash to spoil herself with and take care of baby and tidy up where you can. I know I would appreciate that!!!!!. just want someone to let me take a nap without me having to feel guilty!! I dont want to talk or catch up, I want to sleep!!! LOL

    • Aisha O'Reilly
      August 10, 2017 / 5:28 pm

      Thanks Amanda! I love the tracksuit pants idea. It actually reminded me of when a friend came to see me all glammed up and I was there with puke on my top, hanging belly and dishevelled hair hahaha. And yes, although they mean well in talking and asking about the birth, I also just wanted to SLEEP! I ended up feeling very resentful of a lot of people back then. Something for me to keep in mind for next time, to speak up and let people know to only call me when baby needs feeding.

  3. August 8, 2017 / 7:42 pm

    Wow These are actually helpful hey. I guess all i picked up from my sister was take the baby . . .babysit so mama get get some time for herself and stuff. . .

    Mvumikazi | Urban Mnguni

    • Aisha O'Reilly
      August 10, 2017 / 5:25 pm

      Hey Mvumikazi, that’s also important to do, it’s something. I’m glad you found the tips helpful and I hope you’ll use them in the future 😉

  4. Alice
    August 8, 2017 / 8:24 am

    Nice post Aisha, i’d like to add that If new mommy has older kids you can also help by taking them for a weekend or even a day. I know my friend really got a relief when i took her kids away every other weekend because unfortunately when they are still young they wont understand that mommy is tired and still demand the same attention.

    • Aisha O'Reilly
      August 10, 2017 / 5:24 pm

      Yes, very true! I can’t even imagine how much MORE stressful it is with a newborn and young children. Thanks for adding that 🙂

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