All the planning for that big day when baby arrives makes it easy to forget about the challenging days and months after birth. Although we can never be completely prepared for the new challenges parenthood brings, there are several things that can be done in advance to increase your chances of a smooth transition in the early days.
Take it from someone that has worked with more than 100 new families. I have seen first hand the needs of new parents and although the hottest trending toy is a nice touch, or a cute little outfit is rather sweet, I assure you that the gifts listed below will be far more invaluable.
1. Massage - Motherhood is physically demanding. The constant lifting, carrying, bending, not to mention the muscle tension built by continually interrupted sleep makes moms prime candidates for massage therapy. Find a great licensed practitioner at a local day spa or one who makes housecalls (obviously, baby needs to be elsewhere) to provide some relief to that hardworking body. Having shoulders that aren’t wrapped around your neck anymore….priceless.
2. Home Cooked Meals - Staying well-nourished is good for all of us, all of the time. How much more true of a new mom, experiencing sleep deprivation, and recalibrating hormones, especially if she’s eating not only for herself, but for her nursing baby. Preparing meals in small or individual packages that can be stored in the freezer will free your new mom from the often time-consuming task of cooking. Be sure to know of any allergies and avoid heavy spices and gassy foods (beans, onions, etc.) in order to minimize any digestive upset for baby. If you don’t have time to prepare a meal, you can always pay to have it delivered from the Food Doula or a local catering company. You can’t put a price on a meal that satisfies your gut and your heart cooked by someone who cares about you.
3. Support Group - Find a local support group that focuses on renewal and balance for new mothers. Support groups are a community of mothers who not only share in the joys and challenges of motherhood, but also in supporting one another as they seek renewal and balance as women. Groups will often include discussion, journaling, space for inner reflection and much laughter and connection.
4. A Visit - New motherhood can bring with it a sense of isolation. After the initial flurry of visits, sometimes friend’s stay away because they figure mom can’t hang out or is too busy. Some time with old friends who are patient with the interruptions that come with having a newborn around is a comfort and can provide some much needed fun.
5. Postpartum Doula - Their role is to help new mothers with everything from adjusting to nursing, soothing babies, emotional and physical adjustments, and, in some cases, some light housework. Help, reassurance, and guidance - priceless.