10 Acts of Kindness Toward A New Mother

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?


13 Replies to “10 Acts of Kindness Toward A New Mother”

  1. Beautiful and lovely ideas. Truly the whole world would be a better place just by treating others in such thoughtful ways. I love the gestures of support of nursing in public, and I wish I had been brave enough to do so more myself. I would like to add, however, the suggestion to be careful also to avoid looking with judgment upon a new mother feeding with a bottle, since you never know her circumstances, that it might be expressed breastmilk in the bottle, or she may have some other bonafide and emotionally painful reason she is not nursing in public. And all new moms deserve support, regardless of exterior appearances and assumptions. Thanks for your blog – I always enjoy your insight and appreciate your passion and advocacy 🙂

    • A dear friend was feeding her adopted daughter from a bottle when a nosy #9 came up and had to add her unsolicited opinion. I couldn’t believe it!

  2. For me the last one makes all the difference, even now between parents even if they’re not new moms. I make a conscious effort to remember to smile at other moms, there is a language between us we only know. 🙂

    • Isra,

      The last one is really the most important, isn’t it? I warmly recall receiving that smile, and more fondly recall giving them. THey really do make all the difference.

      Thank you so much for visiting, Isra <3

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  4. Gentle understanding – regardless of HOW it is communicated – is so immensely appreciated. I’m not even a “new” mom, but a couple months ago a woman at Wal-Mart made a huge impact on me. I was 6 mos. pregnant, at the end of a VERY long day of shopping with my 3 other children, every one of whom was being difficult and obnoxious on that particular day. The strenuousness of physically corralling them, together with pushing the cart all day, etc. had caused some contractions that had me worried, and I was just at the end of my rope. I was snapping at the kids in the parking lot, and so worn down at that point that I didn’t even CARE that other people could hear me snapping at the kids.

    I didn’t know it, but that was the day that the shooting took place in Connecticut. An older woman came over, put her hand on my shoulder, told my kids that they looked like they “could use some candy canes” and gave them a couple of those yard ornaments. I don’t remember what she said to them, but basically told my KIDS that they were loved and lucky to be alive and to have such a good mama. I was CONVICTED for my lack of appreciation for my little ones (even before I heard about Sandy Hook), but SO appreciative of the lady’s manner. She clearly recognized that my kids AND I needed encouragement, and she addressed both.

    It’s been three months, and that still brings tears to my eyes. She will never know how huge a difference she made to this mama!

    • Oh wow Rachel, that’s so lovely. We all have those days and your story has given me the nudge that maybe a loving words could be added to the smile I give.
      I also realise that I more often than not just smile at the little children when they’re having hard time at the store. I want them to know that the world is a kind place, but I will remember that the parents also need to know this.

  5. Offer to hold the baby while mom eats!!! (Please don’t do this for a stranger of course.) I never hesitated to offer to hold a baby before I became a mom, but not many people do that for me!!! I think some people are afraid of a fragile baby, some people don’t want to strain with a heavy baby, some people don’t want the responsibility of a fussy baby, and some people want to but don’t want to intrude. I sometimes feel comfortable asking someone to hold my ds, but sometimes I can’t tell if they are comfortable doing it. If you don’t mind or better yet, would be thrilled to do so, speak up! Let mom know you would be more than happy to give her a break or sooth a fussy gus. Let her know if at anytime she wants her little one back that it won’t hurt your feelings to say so as well.

  6. I would be really careful about number 4 as that seems to be incompatible with number 9. I strongly support number 9, and think that unsolicited advice is almost always unhelpful. You have no idea how the new mom is feeling, and even a gentle reminder that babies benefit from being held could be devastating for a new mom who feels guilty for not holding her baby enough. We should support all mothers, regardless of whether their parenting choices and philosophies match our own.

  7. I had 2 wonderful neighbours who took turns to cook dinner for us the first 5 days after i delivered my 3rd child at home 🙂 it was a great act of kindness i will never forget!