When I got pregnant for the first time, my husband and I decided that I would quit my job and stay at home—a plan I was over the moon about. I could handle the sleepless nights and the constant company. I could keep my house clean and lose the baby weight in six weeks. I could take a shower everyday. I could do it all. After all, I had nothing else to do but those extremely hard things.
I have no idea where I got these crazy ideas.
After my first child was born, I was drowning in a puddle of my own sloppy hormones and emotions. It was worse after the second, and after my third, almost unbearable. I really needed help, but to be honest, I have never been someone to ask for a hand. And to start asking when I had everything I had ever wanted, when I had three beautiful healthy babies, and when I could stay home with them, well, I thought it would make me look weak. So I didn’t.
In the years to follow, my sister and some of my friends began having their own beautiful babies. I met some incredible mothers, and guess what, they all asked for help. It was then I realized they were strong, so much stronger than I, because they were able to ask for what they wanted. And by doing so, they were able to cope with things like anxiety and postpartum depression. Helping a fellow mother out can be the key to their survival, especially in those first few months.
I was blessed to have some wonderful women in my life who did some amazing things for me that made all the difference. Here’s what you can do for new mamas who aren’t comfortable asking for help:
1. If she has other kids, take them for an afternoon.
After my sister had her third child, I took her two kids and my three kids out for the afternoon. We went to the playground and for pizza. It was so fun for the cousins to bond, and my sister has told me countless times how much that meant to her. She was able to sleep and really bond with the new baby in a silent house. Also, I must admit a few people asked me if all five kids were mine, and I lied and said, “Yes, they are all mine!” I felt like such a badass.
2. Invite her and her family over for dinner.
I had a friend do this for me after my first child. It felt so good to get dressed, go out of the house, and have some adult conversation. We just ordered pizza, and we only stayed for two hours, but I will always remember how nice it was.
3. Drop off or send a treat for later.
A gift card is so nice and thoughtful. New mamas love knowing there is something just for them to look forward to, whether it be Starbucks, their favorite clothing store, or a mani/pedi from their favorite salon.
My mom and sisters did this for me, and it was a dream. I didn’t use it until my baby was 6 months old, and I fell asleep and woke up in a puddle of my own drool after my pedicure, but I am pretty sure I still had a great time.
4. Organize a few weeks of meals for them.
Send out a group text or email inviting people sign up to drop off dinner for a few weeks. Be sure to ask mama if there are any food restrictions in the house and what time would be good for her to receive the meals.
5. While visiting, if you see something that needs to be done, just do it.
Tell her to grab a nap or a shower if she seems weary. If the kitchen sink is overflowing, take care of the dishes. If there are piles of laundry, wash them. Sometimes having the day-to-day stuff get done can make her feel so much better.
6. Reach out to her.
Just sending a quick text to her, or her partner, saying, “I’m here for whatever you need,” can mean so much.
7. Most of all, tell her it is OK.
Let her know it is OK to ask for help, to vent, to cry, to not want you to come over, to need you, and to not be OK.
For some women, it is extremely hard to ask for help of any kind. It’s impossible for them to say, “If you could do my dishes, that would be huge,” or “Please wash my husband’s underwear.” Just know that anything you can offer them is such a gift—even if they haven’t asked for it.