Hint: it’s not another onesie, a sexy nursing bra, or more unwanted advice.
1) Permission to Stay in Pajamas
For the first week first month (first year?) of her baby’s first life, what a new mom craves is your permission to wear her jammies. Please for the love of God do not invite her to your second cousin’s birthday party, or a playdate at the zoo, or to a trip to the mall until long after her postpartum check-up has come and gone. Every time she changes from her pajamas into something else, it requires anxiety, frustration and the fear that she will never again fit into her skinny jeans. If you come visit her (at home, not at La Madeline’s) please remind her if she’s not already wearing them to put on her pajamas! If she doesn’t have any, then buy her a pair. Tips … two sizes larger than you think she wears, dark colored, and supremely washable (and mildew-resistant).
2) A Large Pizza Delivered to Her Doorstep
It’s so damn hunger-inducing to have a brand new kid. If there are other kids involved it gets even worse. When your boobs are leaking and your stitches hurt and you are stranded someplace under a baby, a person who sends dinner is like a secret fairy godmother. Something nearly every new mom in humanity appreciates is pizza. If she doesn’t eat gluten or is a raw vegan, ask her to list her favorite macrobiotic eatery that delivers on her baby registry. SHE WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER.
HERE are some other food ideas.
IF YOU WANT EXTRA CREDIT, don’t forget paper plates, napkins and a big salad.
3) The Simple Things In Life
If you want to know what a new mom needs, an easy shortcut is instead ask yourself, what if she were a victim of a natural disaster? That really opens things up. For example, she needs toilet paper! Coffee! Clean underwear (or more of these wonderful things)! Clean comfy socks! A giant mug of water on a table within reach! Trail mix! A clear path between her bed and the bathroom (which for the first week, is the only place she should be traveling)!
4) An Empty Sink
As a doula I’ve been to many, many new parents’ homes. The commonality in nearly every one is a sink full of dirty dishes. When mama is in bed (where she should be) typically the dishes don’t get done as often. Some mamas don’t care (and for those that don’t, I say BADASS). For those of us that are a little OCD, a sink full of dirty dishes can be the difference between calm and meltdown. So if you want to go visit a new mama and you want to give her a gift that keeps on giving, do a sink of dishes.
Better yet, also bring her a stack of paper plates and disposable utensils.
And empty her trash.
And hire her a postpartum doula.
4) Someone to (Carefully) Hold Her Baby While She Showers or Takes a Nap
After you present her with her new jammies, ask her when is the last time that she took a shower. She probably won’t remember. At this point offer to snuggle her baby (or sit three feet away from him/her while he/she sleeps and promise watch him/her like a hawk). When she says, “No, that’s okay,” reply, “No. Really. Go. I know infant CPR.”
Extra-credit for (safe) baby-wearing.
5) A Judgment-Free Zone
Chances are pretty high that as a new mom, she’s feeling judged.
Regardless of what she ate while she was pregnant. (A slice of deli turkey not microwaved? A bite of unpasteurized cheese? Not enough organic kale?)
Regardless of how she got through labor and birth. (Epidural? C-Section? Birth in the backyard under a tree?)
Regardless of how she is feeding her baby. (Breastfeeding with ease, while flashing too much nipple? Formula feeding, regardless of the reason?)
Regardless of how confident she feels, or at peace with her own choices, she’s probably feeling judged, by someone.
Don’t add fuel to this raging fire. Instead, supply the perfect antidote….
“Wow. Your house is so neat and organized.” If it’s completely cluttered to the point you can’t walk through it, instead say: “Wow you are so blessed to have all the things you need!” (Then spend some time cleaning up the kitchen.)
“Your baby is beautiful and perfect.” Even if he just took an enormous poop all over his fresh onesie. (Even better? Offer to change him. Here’s a fool-proof way.)
“You’re beautiful.” Even if she has milk stains on her shirt and dark circles under her eyes. Then remind her to put on her new pajamas.
“You know just what your baby needs.” Even if he’s screaming his head off.
“YOU ARE A GREAT MOM.”
When it’s your turn to give birth, she will do the same for you.
Kate is a mama, nurse, and proud doula with North Dallas Doula Associates. Click the link below for gorgeous, holistic birth and postpartum services!