The transition to motherhood is a fast one. It’s exhilarating and beautiful, but it can be exhausting, confusing, and painful.
In my experience being pregnant prepares you very little for actually having a baby. Some women have difficult births, some women have easy ones, and some have traumatic ones. Some want to talk about it, some don’t. Every experience is really so different.
Becoming a mom has been one of the most interesting phases of my life so far. There’s no way to truly be ready. Even through the broken sleep, the tears from physical pain, not understanding what your child needs, the joy from getting it right, the worry from what you might be doing wrong or if they’re okay. It’s hard to want a few minutes alone but also feeling guilty for not being there every second of the day.
But it’s also extremely blissful to have a sleeping baby on your chest. To have nonsensical conversations with your two week old. To celebrate the first successful outing that’s not the doctor’s office. It all happens so quickly and is over so fast. By the time you think you’ve figured them out, they need something else from you.
From my own journey as becoming a mom this year and watching some of my friends do the same, I have a few pieces of advice to share for how to support your friends when they become a mom. I also reached out to a few friends and have their advice grouped in as well! And here’s what not to say to a new mom.
How To Support Your Friends When They Become a Mom
1. Remind her she’s doing a great job.
Like I mentioned, suddenly having a new human being to take care of and be responsible for is overwhelming. It’s hard and it’s confusing. The best thing anyone did for me was tell me I’m doing a great job. I needed those reminders to get me through the really tough moments.
A quick text or short call with these words can really help her when she needs it the most.
the only way we got anything done for a long while
2. Offer food.
Food and caring for yourself kind of take a backseat once the baby arrives. It can take a while to get into a rhythm and that includes making breakfast, lunch or dinner.
You could put together a basket of her favorite easy to grab snacks and bars, send her a gift card to her favorite take out place, or make a favorite meal to drop off. You could even offer to do a grocery pick up for the family!
Rachel from The Confused Millennial says, “Bring food. Even if we tell you we don’t need you to bring anything, push and give a few food specific options. For instance, ‘I know you said not to bring anything, but I’m going to stop and pick up bagels, what are your favorite flavors?'”
3. Ask if she wants company.
Whether it’s on a walk or going to an appointment, I loved having an extra set of hands to help me out with things.
Even now I love when a friend tags along to something. It makes things easier and more enjoyable for me all around.
when Auntie Marina came to visit
4. Stay in touch.
My friend Chardon of SimplyChardon on YouTube says, “despite having a newborn attached to you, motherhood can be lonely. I always like when someone asks if they can stop by for an hour or FaceTime for 30 minutes.”
I cannot agree with this more! Strangely, I have never felt more lonely than being at home with a baby. It’s an odd thing to be fully responsible for someone else in front of yourself but that person can’t talk or even really communicate what they need or want. They have an erratic schedule especially for the first few months and it can be hard to go from having control of your schedule to someone else essentially running the show.
Reach out to your friends when they become a new mom. Let them know you’re there for them. Maybe offer to chat on the phone on your way home from work — it might be the only normal conversations she’s had all week!
4. Share your struggles.
My friend Chardon says, “I love hearing what other moms are going through. I always feel less alone knowing that others are experiencing the same thing.” There really is so much community and connection to be had in sharing what you’re going through.
If you’re a mom yourself, you can also be open about what you’re going through or have gone through! In some of my toughest moments early on, I reminded myself frequently that other women had been doing this for thousands of years, and if they could, I could.
5. Know when to share your advice and when to listen.
It can be tempting to want to share advice or words of wisdom but each mom knows her baby best. She knows what she’s tried and what hasn’t worked. Unless she asks for your opinion or thoughts, it’s best to just listen to her when she needs an ear.
I know this is easier said than done, as I myself am often an advice-giver when I need to be solely a listener. I have a natural inclination to want to solve a problem when it’s presented (as I think many of us do). But sometimes moms just need someone to understand their frustrations with them before they can move on. Sometimes just “that really sucks” is what she needs from you.
one of our first successful outings
6. Keep checking in.
My friend Lindsey shares the importance of checking in on mom:
“I think the biggest piece of advice I’d give would be to keep checking on the friend. Often times Moms get overlooked, especially once the baby isn’t a newborn and as Moms we need someone to ask how we’re doing or what’s going on in are world and know that we have someone who will listen. I think this is especially important for Moms who don’t have a village around them.”
After the baby arrives, so much focus gets put on them. Pretty much the only thing the new parents are thinking about are keeping them alive and treasuring every little moment. Don’t forget to check in on mom and dad, too.
7. Stick to the registry.
When parents create a registry, they are making a list of things they actually need for their baby. When buying gifts for them, it’s easy to go off course in favor of cuter, and a lot of times, cheaper things. But really, your gift will be much more valued and appreciated if it’s something from the registry.
Ask what types of gifts we’d like. Every parent has different taste and desires when it comes to their kids and chances are people are shopping for what they want for themselves, versus what actually aligns with the gift receiver. With today’s current climate, the greatest gift can be no gift since we don’t want to add to waste and returns can be impossible for parents. I’d suggest sticking to the registry. If you want to go off the registry, it may not be a fun gift, but parents always love diapers and money because babies are expensive! If you still feel insistent on a gift beyond the registry, diapers, or money, stick with books. They never go out of style, foster good family values, and there are far fewer preferences around them.
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8. Be there for her.
Honestly, just BE THERE. There are so many times where I personally have felt abandoned by friends throughout pregnancy or have heard of people losing friends because they have a baby. I get that it’s a totally different lifestyle but there’s no reason you can’t hang out with me just because I had a baby. Trust me, your friends need you now more than ever! Even if you just swing by with a coffee or ask them if they need anything before you run to the grocery store. Show up throughout their pregnancy and keep showing up once the baby comes!
So there we have it, eight tips for supporting your friends as they become new moms. The transition to motherhood (and fatherhood as this doesn’t all just apply to moms) is a challenging one. More challenging than I ever imagined personally. I don’t know what I would have done some days without my friends there to support me.
If you have friends that are becoming moms soon or have recently, we hope this advice sheds some new light on how to help her through the transition. Reading this post probably already means you’re doing a great job.