The best ways a friend or relative can support a new mum
Congrats, you're now a grandparent/aunt/uncle/godparent! Welcoming a newborn into the family is a moment for celebration, happiness and joy. However, in the midst of the excitement, make sure the new mother, who's gone through hours of labour or a caesarian, doesn't get neglected of all the love, pampering and peace that she deserves.
Here are five simple tips that are completely doable by any family member or friend to help a new mum at home:
Give space and privacy
"If I am thinking correctly," said Winnie the Pooh, "a new baby is probably, undoubtedly, the grandest gift that could ever be." But in all this, we should never forget the one who brought the wonderful gift into the family the new mum.
Especially in the initial few months, it is very important to realise that a new mother needs ample rest and sleep as her body has undergone a lot of changes. It is important to understand that childbearing and the entire birthing process, though a special and an emotional one, comes with its share of challenges. You may be very excited to meet and welcome the new baby, but having a lot of people visit and handle the baby is not so healthy and also deprives a new mum of her space and privacy.
Be generous with compliments, not criticisms or comparisons with your own children. A new mum needs lots of physical and mental support as well as appreciation and cooperation too, says Dr. Madhura Kuchekar-Ware, a Mumbai based Intensivist. Care should be taken that family members, including the husband, should not criticize a new mum because things are new to her. Instead, they should encourage her with appreciation, which to a certain extent can prevent 'postpartum depression'. Being kind and considerate to a new mum can considerably reduce her anxieties which will eventually help her to handle the stress.
Offer a helping hand
Little things that you do for a new mum can go a long way, be it helping her with the household chores, pampering her with her favourite homemade meal, running some errands for her or even offering to baby-sit the little one, while the new mum gets the healing touch of a massage or a rejuvenating dose of shut eye. This is a new phase with hormones playing up. With feeding and nappy changes leading to sleepless nights, caring for an infant needs some sharing of the load, pitches in Dr. Sunita Rajani, a London-based Pediatrician.
Refrain from giving unwanted advice
Dr. Sunita further adds, Not giving unwanted advice is a very important thing too. Happy mums make happy babies so it is essential to keep a mum happy as everything indirectly affects the milk production. A family should let the mum bring up her baby her way and not force her to follow age old customs without any scientific basis. This is the biggest stress a new mum goes through. Although advice-givers may mean well, some advice may even be misinformed and harmful, hence it is always best to cross check with an expert.
Spending quality time with her
When a new baby enters the scene, it's hard for a new mother to maintain her social life which may lead her to feel isolated. She might miss your calls because her schedule is governed by her baby, but it doesn't mean she doesn't want to talk to you. It's okay if you are the one who always initiates contact at this time because social support is a crucial factor in reducing the risk of post-partum depression. Once the new mum feels fit enough, inviting her out to make a short trip to the neighbourhood cafe for a cup of coffee with her girlfriends can do wonders. All she may want to talk about right now is her baby, but allow her airtime and be flexible in case your perfectly scheduled meeting gets derailed by a baby emergency!
Even in the happy occasion where the spotlight is on the newborn, we should not forget that the health and wellbeing of the new mum are of utmost importance as she is the primary caregiver. By giving her space and privacy, offering her a helping hand, babysitting, refraining from giving unwanted advice and spending quality time with her will definitely go a long way for her to bounce back and take on the role of being a mother.
Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai and a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women's University in Mumbai. She started her career 16 years ago by writing children's books, e-learning, content management for international websites and magazines and writing lifestyle and feature articles. She's the founder of The Lifestyle Portal an e-publishing platform that focuses primarily on entrepreneur profiling, entrepreneur directory listing, workshop reviews, feature stories and more. Shes also a Certified Parent-Child Play Practitioner and a Certified Story Teller.
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