There’s no denying that the arrival of a newborn is an event like no other. There’s plenty of excitement leading up to the birth, and typically a whirlwind of attention once the child arrives. Relatives and friends come to see the baby, announcements are sent out, phone calls are made, pictures are taken, social media posts trumpet the news, and it seems almost like the circus is in town.
But what happens when the circus is gone? Eventually, life returns to a quieter pace (or relatively quiet, now that there’s a newborn in the mix). Whether mom prefers a stay-at-home role or is just taking time off from work, at a certain point the responsibility lands almost squarely on her shoulders.
That’s when friends and family members are needed more than ever. So what can you do to help mom adjust to the arrival of a newborn? Here are five easy ways to help that may not be obvious to everyone.
It’s easy to think that mom and baby might want to be left alone for quiet time. However, it’s also realistic to believe that mom might be at her wits’ end.
“It’s normal to feel overwhelmed even about something as positive as a new baby,” says Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, medical director for The National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland. “Stress is a reaction, a physiological and emotional adjustment to change.”
You can help relieve stress just by being available as often as you can for whatever you can do, and to know how to “be there” without actually being there. Even little things can mean a lot; for example, many new moms say that sometimes they just crave an adult to talk to.
Be persistent without being a pest
Just because mom says she doesn’t need anything now doesn’t mean she won’t need something later.
Sarah Powers, managing editor of The Happiest Home mommy blog, offers some sage insight from her time as a new mother. “I didn’t know how to ask for help,” she said, “and the ‘help’ I had been offered wasn’t what I wanted or needed at that moment.”
Capture some memories
Powers also points out that many new moms want to take pictures and capture the early days of the baby’s life. But that’s not easy if both hands are taken up with the baby. That’s where you can help; try to get pictures – especially of both parents – with the newborn. Don’t just pose the photos, but try to get candid shots as well. They’ll mean a lot for years to come.
Bring food … quietly
Meals are always welcome, since newborn moms can be too busy (or too frazzled) to just whip something up for dinner. But remember that dropping off food doesn’t have to be a major event. Leave it in a basket on the doorstep, text mom to check outside for a surprise, and continue on with your day. And if it’s something that can last as leftovers, so much the better.
Make mom feel secure
Since mom and baby may be home alone, it’s understandable that the house might look unoccupied. That makes it a potentially tempting target for burglars and intruders, since roughly 65 percent of all burglaries take place between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., when a home is unlikely to be occupied.
You can start before the baby arrives by suggesting a basic burglary alarm, with sensors on all doors and windows. A panic button is also a great idea. Best of all, home security is a gift that keeps on giving over the years, whether mom stays at home or eventually returns to the workforce.
It’s a pretty big step, but it’s a gift that keeps working around the clock – not just for mom and baby, but everyone else in the family.