New mothers everywhere experience knowing what being invisible feels like after baby is born. And it can be disheartening. As pregnant women, they are the center of attention and concern. Those sentiments often shift when the baby finally arrives, leaving new mamas wondering where their support went.
Every pregnant mom would probably agree that the care and concern they receive while pregnant is nice. But new moms everywhere are begging: please ask me how I’m doing! Pregnancy was hard, but being a new mom is harder!
The Pregnancy Glow of Attention
For many women, pregnancy can be a time of experiencing many different emotions. Some women might feel that every day is a battle and wish they could snap their fingers and be at the finish line. Others might say they never felt better and relish in the glow and energy that their little one is creating inside their uterus. Regardless of where you fall on the pregnancy spectrum, there’s no question that growing a human is hard work. Your body goes through many changes on the way to officially being called “Mama.”
During those long months of growing a baby (or multiple babies), you might experience extra TLC from those around you, even strangers. Get ready to be offered seats on the train, get doors held for you, or be allowed to go first in line at the grocery store. Those small perks are nature’s way of rewarding ourselves for all of the time and energy spent creating this perfect life inside of us.
Those small gestures can go a long way during a pregnancy that feels like it might never end. Something so simple can be a huge bright spot during an otherwise stressful time. Supportive comments can make a difference as well. Hearing, “You look great!” Or simply being asked, “How are you feeling?” can make a pregnant woman feel that she is seen and valued. The excitement from all is palpable. The impending arrival of a new baby is something that brings joy and happiness in many ways.
Oh, How the Tides Turn
Once the baby is here, it is incredible how the tide shifts. No longer is the focus on the expectant mother, but all eyes are on the new bundle of joy and soaking up all the details surrounding the new baby. For new moms, this shift can come in fast and furious.
It has been nice getting all of the support and special attention that comes with carrying a child for the past nine months. Hormones are hard at work, and it helps on an emotional and mental level to be given those signs and words of support to keep ourselves calm through the ups and downs of pregnancy. Once the new baby arrives, those hormones surge in faster than ever. But this time, we are not the focus anymore. Some questions and comments might be directed at the new mother. But more often, the sole focus becomes on the newest kid in town.
As a result, here is the plea from new mothers everywhere: please ask us how we are doing! Please know that while we are so excited that the baby is here. We know you are too. But we are tired. We are sore. Our bodies are aching and bleeding and stitched up in places we don’t even want to look at. We haven’t slept in days. Knowing how little sleep we have in the foreseeable future is enough to make our blood pressure spike. We need a shower in the worst way. And we are already overwhelmed by the nonstop decisions that need our attention (did we fill out the paperwork for the baby’s Social Security card correctly?).
Tips for Helping a New Mother Feel Supported
We love how much you love our baby and are so thankful for the immediate spoiling and excitement surrounding this incredible time. But please, please, don’t forget about us in the midst of welcoming our little bundles of joy. Here are some ways that you can help new mothers feel extra supported during this wonderful and overwhelming time:
1. Ask questions that don’t have to do with the baby.
Bonus points if it is a fun and juicy conversation and doesn’t require much sleep to participate.
2. Check-in after the birth, but also in a few weeks.
Oftentimes, the support and check-ins taper off pretty drastically a week or two after the baby is born. I always felt so “seen” and supported when family and friends checked in weeks after we had settled in at home.
3. Avoid asking questions such as “How is the baby sleeping?”
I am guilty of this one, and it’s an honest question! But I found it triggering when I was in the sleep-deprived haze that is newborn-land. How do you think the baby is sleeping!?
4. Just do it, don’t ask!
Many well-intentioned friends and family members asked me what they could do to help me out after the baby was born. I never wanted to be a burden on anyone or put anyone out, so I oftentimes declined the help. However, having things just “done” for me was such a treat. I didn’t have time to refuse the help since it was already in motion, and it felt so good to be spoiled in some way.
5. Or give her a choice.
Give the new mother in your life three choices of something they would enjoy having done for them that week, for example, grocery delivery, a manicure/pedicure, or a house cleaning coupon. Let mom pick something she really could use that week.
No matter what, the arrival of a new baby is a beautiful time. Women sacrifice so much getting pregnant, being pregnant, and then enduring labor and delivery. Once the baby is here, it is easy to focus on that sweet baby. Remember to recognize that the mom needs love and support as well. Give equal attention to the baby as well as the mama that brought them safely into the world.