I’m Speaking Up For New Moms. 5 Things She Needs From You.

Because of my vocation as a childbirth educator, a homeschooling mom, and just overall professional mom cheerleader, my circle is overflowing with new moms. I love holding their squishy babies and seeing the glow on their faces. The first days and weeks of motherhood are filled with excited faces, congratulations, baby gifts, delivered meals, and baby snuggles. The vast ocean we call parenting beckons another woman.

As exciting as this new season is for a mom (and dad), I have learned to take a moment to look beyond the exciting exterior into the heart of a woman going through one of the most life changing events of her life.

Many times, a longer look at her unearths deep emotions unseen by those around her.

The new mom is learning by trial and error how to parent. Major hormonal and chemical changes are taking place in her body. Her marriage or relationship has changed, and her marketplace vocation, ministry, or education may have been put on hold or laid down completely. Her friendships are changing. She may not go outside that often. She may not take a shower every day. Her legs are probably not shaved, and her teeth may be dirty. Change is everywhere around her.

Sometimes the change is exciting and exhilarating. Other times, she finds herself in the corner of her baby’s nursery in tears. She might perceive that her husband thinks she is a little loopy and that her single friends think she is boring. She may not know what to think of herself. This is survival mode.

Don’t get me wrong, inviting a baby into the home is a blessing and a gift. Many women who are blessed with great a support team transition into it very well. BUT, for any new mom, the “postpartum blues” is extremely normal. Life is not always butterflies and roses. Life with a new baby is hard. Sometimes, the fresh shower before work mocks her and intimate time with her husband becomes a sweet memory.  She might not enjoy EVERYTHING about being a new mom EVERY day and that is OK. It does not mean she loves her baby any less.

We have to extend grace to ourselves and new moms to have the bad days and even hard seasons. Normal postpartum blues EASILY and QUICKLY turns into postpartum depression when grace is not extended AND received. Honestly, there are thousands of cases of postpartum depression that go undiagnosed. I meet these sweet women all the time. Guilt becomes their companion, and isolation becomes their daily trend.

Because I love new moms, and I just recently spent some time with a sweet mom carrying big tear bags in her eyes, I am going to speak up for them for a moment.

If you know a new mother, you need to know a few things she just might need from you.

  1. She needs you to be present. She needs you to call her. She needs you to show up at her front door (with permission) even when she says she is doing great. Note: If you do come over, don’t expect to stay long or be hosted. She might be a bit lonely, yet she is also exhausted.
  2. She needs your practical help. She needs you to bring over a meal (check out: takethemameal.com). She needs you to help her with laundry. She needs you to hold the door for her when she is struggling to push the stroller through the doorway. There is always a way you can help. Please offer your help, because she may not ask for it. She is strong and can manage a car seat, 3 bags on her shoulders, and a door, but don’t ask her to.
  3. If you are close to her and willing to invest, she needs you to ask her the important questions like, “How are you doing? Are you enjoying being home with your baby? Have you figured out a time to shower and eat? How is feeding your baby going? How is the transition? How is your marriage? How often do you go outside? Are you regularly around other adults? What kinds of food are you eating?” She needs you to ask her, because her baby consumes her thoughts and time (not a bad thing). She often forgets to think about herself.
  4. She needs your praise not your advice. Wait until she asks for advice to give it. As helpful as your opinion and personal experiences are, it also may communicate she is not doing enough. It breeds comparison. Instead, listen to her and tell her that she is doing a great job.
  5. She needs you to make room for her. She still wants to be your friend. She still wants to laugh, cry, watch old movies, and eat ice cream. Her new responsibility has changed her life circumstances but not who she is. Make room for her (and her baby) at the table, in the Bible study, and on girl’s nights. Don’t always assume she can’t come. Even if she is unable to attend, she needs to know you want her there. New mothers often struggle to find their place in community.

I so often see those big tears barrel down another mom’s cheeks. “Is it normal to feel this way?,” she asks. Let’s not forget the new mom. Squeeze those baby cheeks and look into her eyes.

Moms, “YOU ARE AMAZING AND YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB.”

Big hugs,

Cathy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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