Entering the postpartum period …
We’ve now had a number of posts about issues related to the time when a woman is pregnant, but it’s now time to shift into the postpartum (read – period of time after the baby is born) period. We’ll be talking about a number of things including postpartum depression and bonding (or the lack thereof) with you new baby, to name a few things. Today is a very practical post with some thoughts on how to bless a woman/family who has just given birth. I asked many friends what kinds of things most blessed them and got a lot of great feedback. The bottom line is that you need to think about who the woman is who just had the baby and what might/might not specifically bless her. If you’re not sure, then ask rather than assuming you know best. Also, if it’s a friend who has a hard time accepting help or tends to feel like a burden (even though she is not), you may have to kindly fight her a bit on letting you help. Again, do that only if you know her well enough. 😉 With that being said, here are some of the things that other women said has blessed them during the postpartum period:
- Offer to thoroughly clean the new baby family’s house, do laundry, or straighten up around the house. Don’t bring extra kids with you when you do this. Encourage (or gently insist, if needbe) Mom/Dad to rest while you are doing these things and absolve them of any guilt that they are not staying up to keep you company.
- Offer to take the new baby’s siblings (if s/he has any) out on a fun adventure so that Mom/Dad can have time to nap, simply be, take an uninterrupted shower, or hang out with their new babe alone.
- When the baby is a bit older (but sooner than later) offer to watch the newborn (come to their house so they don’t have to take the baby out) so Mom and Dad can go out on a date.
- Offer to get groceries for the family.
- Encourage Mom (and Dad) to REST when they can.
- Don’t visit in the hospital until you call ahead or are specifically invited. Some people have very different opinions on this – I know others who prefer to be alone in the hospital those first few days, but we loved having a few people come each day, especially as we don’t have much family in the area. I would say to definitely call ahead … and while you’re on the phone, ask if there’s a meal or a specialty coffee drink that sounds especially good to the new mom and dad. Shun-Luoi’s sister/her husband brought me my favorite salad from Panera while we were in the hospital with Abigail and another friend brought me an iced mocha. Such great treats for a woman who has just done the hard work of having a baby (and for her husband who has supported her through it)
- Don’t drop by the house unannounced once the family has come home.
- Offer to pick up any family members who may be flying into a local airport.
- Once Mom and new baby are ready to be out and about, invite the family over for dinner. This gets them out of the house after what may have been a longer period of time of them being at home.
- Release the family of the pressure to send you a thank you card. I always tell people to not send me anything because I already know they’re thankful and that they don’t need yet one more thing to have to think about doing.
- Offer to take the new baby’s siblings to school or to other lessons, etc. that they may take part in.
- Call or text Mom during the day just to see how she’s doing or simply to say “hi” and that you’re thinking about her (make sure she knows there’s no pressure to return your phone call or text).
- Offer to bring Mom her favorite coffee drink. While you’re at it, offer to stay and give her some adult interaction is she desires it.
- If you visit the new baby’s family (remember, not unannounced), bring a small toy or gift for the sibling(s) and affirm them as a new big sister/brother.
- Email or text Mom and share some of what you may have been thinking after you brought your baby home (ie. what you may have felt guilty about, resenting your husband for getting to sleep through the night while you were up numerous times to breastfeed, etc.) to reassure her that she is normal. A friend of mine shared that a few friends did this for her and that, ” it was so encouraging and reassuring to know that I wasn’t the only one having these thoughts and not enjoying each and every single moment. And soooo hopeful to know that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel where I wouldn’t be so uncomfortable, I would get more sleep, I would find a balance.” I thought this was a great idea, but it might be more appropriate if the new mom is a close friend of yours.
- Meals – that’s a subject in and of itself for the next post. 😉
Remember that blessing the new Mom/family is not about YOU. Yes, you may want to snuggle the new babe for an hour or hear all of the labor/delivery details, but right after the baby’s birth just may not be the appropriate time for things like that. Think about the family you are serving and do what will bless, encourage, and make them feel loved on and supported during a time that is full of both amazing and hard moments all at the same time. Remind the family that it’s a joy to get to serve them and that they owe you absolutely nothing in return.
Thanks to everyone who contributed their thoughts on this subject – I loved hearing all of the different ideas!