We feel compassion when we see a new mom. We recognize the look in her eyes and wonder what we can do to give her a lift. Here are 5 Acts of Kindness Toward a New Mother.
1. Keep a couple of dollar bills on you. When you see a new mom sitting all alone in a public place breastfeeding, make yourself late and find a place to buy her a nice cold bottle of water. When you give it to her (or have your child give it to her), offer her a warm smile and a short “thank you for nursing in public”. Walk away expecting and accepting nothing.
2. If you are out for a walk and see a struggling new mom looking overwhelmed, ask her how she is doing. Be ready and willing to listen, and genuinely care about her response. Share your own experience only as appropriate and as it relates to supporting her. Be willing to walk away if she does not want to talk.
3. Stand up for another mother. Whether someone is giving her a hard time for breastfeeding, or she is getting looks because her baby is crying, quietly and without fanfare get the ignorant individual away from her. A nice, “can we chat over here?” followed by a kind reminder of how challenging being a new mom is should be all it takes. If not, call security. I am serious. Once dealt with proceed to #1.
4. Remind every new mother who is willing to hear it, that it is good to hold her baby around the clock and nurse him whenever he wants. Sometimes a new mom is just waiting for this permission, and her shoulders will sink with relief and her eyes will leak solace.
5. Go out of your way every time. Hold the door, carry the bags, share a smile, or buy her lunch and don’t let her know who did it. Send an anonymous note telling her that things will get easier. Do not make it about you. Make it solely about supporting and encouraging a new mom who may be feeling lost, alone and uncertain.
6. Take the trash out. If your neighbors have just had a baby, take their trash and recycling out every week before you take out your own. No need to tell them who is doing it.
7. Make an extra meal after the baby is a few weeks old. We all get so much attention for the first few weeks- the adjustment to being on our own is tough.
8. Be careful about encouraging a new mom to leave her baby. We all mean well; “go out by yourself for an hour” “go out to dinner with your husband”. These gestures are well intentioned and seem to be in mom’s best interest. New moms are biologically programmed to be with their babies. When we encourage them to separate, we might be causing them to question their intuition and instinct.
9. Keep your mouth shut. No matter how many babies you have had or how many years you have worked with kids, do not offer advice. Instead, remind mom that she can trust herself and her baby- that they know all the answers.
10. Smile. Just smile. In those first days and weeks it can feel like the world has turned upside down. Everything is uncertain and there are no answers. Days are nights and nights are lonely. A visual reminder that others are doing okay can give mom enough of a lift to get through the whole day- or better yet, night.
These are easy and not so small ways to support a new mom. What can you add?