New mums need your help. No matter whether it’s baby number 1 or 5, she needs help. When a human baby is born, they are completely dependent on Mum for food, protection and comfort as they adjust from life in the womb. For the first three months of life, they need to develop their senses and adjust to new temperatures, noises, smells, touch and light. This period has been termed the Fourth Trimester. There is so much focus on the baby’s development through this time that we often forget that Mum is also going through a huge transition. Her body has changed. Her sleep is determined by the baby’s needs. She is recovering from birth whether vaginally or c-section, both with their own set of complications. Now add on top breastfeeding where she is also sharing nutrients from her body to give to her baby. While she may not want to admit it, she needs your help. So how can we be better caring for new mums?
Bring her food
The best way to care for a new Mum is by focusing on her basic human needs. The first being food and nutrition. She is now providing nutrition to her baby so she needs to be eating regularly so that she can maintain her energy. At times it may feel like the life is being sucked right out of her as the priority for the good stuff is delivered to baby and mum is left depleted. Bringing food ensures she has a regular, nutritious meal and is one less thing she needs to try to fit into her very busy day.
Sleep when baby sleeps is the funniest advice you can give. She will try. But babies sleep in short cycles and sometimes only settle for no more than 10 minutes at a time. She is needed to comfort them so they feel safe to fall asleep. You can step in here and be that safe, protecting person for baby. Help her by taking care of the baby while she gets some sleep, especially on the bad days. It may be an hour of sleep that can change her whole perspective. It’s no secret why depriving sleep is a form of torture.
Mums want to move but she is often trapped under a baby. Movement is essential for easing the aches in her body, adjusting to her post natal self and for her mental well-being. When she is ready, help her out by inviting her for a coffee and a short walk. Find somewhere quiet, comfortable and where she might be able to sit to feed if needed. Both Mum and Bub will benefit from the fresh air and movement.
Listen to her
Mums need adult conversation. Often they are stuck at home for hours alone with a baby. Overnight, they are awake when the rest of the world is sleeping. They miss that connection and can often feel lonely. So when a Mum does have the opportunity to talk, they want to feel heard. They need you to listen and not judge or give advice. There is already so much pressure to do everything right, she just needs someone to listen and tell her she’s doing a great job. Create a safe space for her to share her challenges, share her pain and share her trauma. She may have had an expectation of motherhood or how childbirth would go and it hasn’t worked out as planned. So grab that coffee, sit down and let her share. It will be healing for her to feel heard and know it’s all going to be ok.
Care for her body
New Mums are in pain. They have been through 9 months of growing a baby but in an instant this baby is now in their arms. These arms are constantly carrying baby, holding baby for feeding or sleep. They are rocking them to sleep, lifting them in and out of bed, prams or the car. The baby grows every day and the load on their bodies increases too. Muscles get sore, tired and overstretched. This is where we can help. Post Natal Massage can help ease the aches and put her in a strong position to better care for baby.
Whatever you choose to do to help with caring for new mums, make sure you do it with respect to her wishes and needs. Offer kindly, ask and respect her choices, and please do not bombard her with unsolicited advice. She is vulnerable, tired, overwhelmed so constantly being told how to do something better may wear down her confidence. Be the best support you can be and remember that it’s about what Mum and Bub need, not what you want. Thank you for reading and taking the time to consider how you can better help.