October 12, 2020
In the days and weeks after welcoming a baby into the world, a new mom will experience a rollercoaster of emotions–extreme happiness, frustration, exhaustion, heart-bursting love. And while it will fill her heart to see loved ones snuggling her new addition, sometimes the new mom herself can get overlooked in the excitement–at a time when she needs support navigating the early tasks and emotions of parenthood and recovering from birth.
While every new mom will have different needs as they adjust to their new role in life, here are a few ways you can emotionally support a new mama in your life:
Ask Her What She Needs
In the early newborn days a mother has a million thoughts and things to accomplish running through her head—and it’s impossible to guess what she might truly need in any given moment.
A simple question, “what do you need right now?” might yield a variety of answers:
- A shower
- A break from holding the baby
- A nap
- Some fresh air
- Time to complete a household chore
- Someone to run an errand
- …the list goes on
Even if the answer is “nothing,” chances are she’ll be grateful and feel supported that you asked!
If a Task Needs to Be Done, Do It!
This is particularly important for a co-parent or partner. Taking the reins on a newborn task (changing a diaper, taking over a nighttime feeding, rocking a crying baby) or doing a household chore (dishes, laundry, tidying up, etc.) without being asked shows her that you’re in this together, and that the parenting and household responsibilities don’t fall squarely on her shoulders. Even doing the smallest job can help her feel less stressed.
Tell Her How Well She’s Doing
There are no progress reports when it comes to being a new parent. It’s easy to feel like you’re knocking it out of the park one moment, and struggling as a mom in the next. Assuring her that she’s doing a wonderful job can do wonders for her mental health, and boost her confidence as a new mama.
Keep the Support Coming
The postpartum period (often known as the fourth trimester) is a months-long stage of life. Make sure to keep checking in and offering your support even after the initial newborn days of motherhood. Being at home with an infant can feel isolating, and it’s important for her to know that she’s not alone.
It's easy to support a new mom from a distance—phone calls and video calls, sending meal deliveries or small gifts can be a bright spot in a hard day. And remember—if she doesn’t answer the phone or text back quickly, she has a lot going on! Don’t take silence for disinterest in communicating, and call her back later.
Encourage Her to Connect with Other Moms
While the emotional support of partners, friends and family is crucial, sometimes there’s nothing better than talking to other new moms in a similar stage of life. Finding a New Mom Support Group is a wonderful way to trade stories, frustrations and tips with other new mamas.
Women & Babies Hospital’s “Becoming Mom” online virtual discussion group is a great way for new moms to connect and expand their support network from the comfort of home. Email WBHGroups@pennmedicine.upenn.edu for information, dates and times for the next group.