A woman doesn’t know what motherhood is about until she becomes a mother.
Often I see pregnant women around me during their first year after their baby is born planning or trying for a second child, etc.
I wasn’t any different, of course.
“What can surprise me now? I know I will not sleep, that it will be hard, that the baby will always cry, but I will handle it !”, I thought.
But in reality, each of us is surprised by our own reactions and feelings after becoming a mum.
Suddenly, you find it’s not only about sleeping deprivation and changing nappies.
You are experiencing a cocktail of emotions you never thought you would feel.
Every day you get lovely texts from people congratulating you and asking you questions you don’t know how to answer. Oh, and everyone wants to come and see you as soon as possible.
What should you do when your brain is in a daze and the only thing you want to do is lock yourself in an empty room and scream from the top of your lungs?
Sure, life would be much easier if there was a ‘behavioral manual towards a new mother’.
What would such a manual look like?
What would it contain?
I believe it would certainly contain some of the following tips on how to treat a new mum!
1. Remember that a new mother is going through a tough time (especially emotionally)
This is so clear and yet so many people forget about it.
If a new mum is irritated, angry, sad, if she doesn’t answer your texts if she doesn’t want to see anyone…. totally natural and normal.
2. Don’t be in rush with your first visit and wait for a mum to invite you
This is a million-dollar question: When is the right time to visit a new mum?
Many people feel they have to come as soon as possible otherwise they would look like they don’ care.
Of course, it always depends on individual circumstances but every new mum needs some time and space for herself and for recovery, both physical and emotional.
A new mum feels exhausted and goes through a range of conflicting emotions while adjusting to a new life, so the constant circle of people is the last thing she needs.
Don’t be afraid to wait a few weeks for your first visit. Remember that even a mum doesn’t want to be impolite so why not simply ask her to let you know when she is ready for visitors?
It’s way more effective to show your understanding and support which she now needs more than ever.
3. Keep the visit short (ideally under 1 hour)
How long should you stay once you visit?
Many people logically think that a new mum enjoys the company and comes to different thoughts with people around.
Well, it doesn’t always work like this. Do not forget that a new mum may not have slept for a few days and is beyond exhausted. Once the baby is asleep, this is often her only opportunity to take a nap or just relax.
So if she has to make coffee and listen to her girlfriend’s problems with her boyfriend instead… ouch!
So unless asked otherwise, keep your visit under one hour. This way, you show that you care about her, but at the same time, you also respect her needs.
4. When you talk to a mother, focus on her emotional state
Many mums get asked things like: “How was the birth?” “What is it like to be a mother?”, “How is the baby?”, “Are they sleeping at night?”, and so on.
It is undoubtedly amazing to see what your loved ones think of you. But what many people forget about (quite understandably if they are not parents themselves) is the fact that a new mum is going through a range of negative and often scary emotions.
Baby Blues is the most common affective disorder experienced by up to 80% of new mothers and it manifests with anxiety, sadness, and frequent mood swings.
A smaller percentage of mothers even suffer major postnatal depression, whose symptoms are more severe.
What every new mum needs the most is, therefore, emotional support.
What if it’s your friend who is going through baby blues? Or postnatal depression? What if she is suffering in silence and no one has a clue?
Instead of flooding her with questions, ask her if she is ok. And if you sense a slight imbalance, do not take it lightly. Repressed baby blues or postnatal depression may grow into dimensions and the consequences can be fatal.
5. Don’t make mummy jokes
This especially goes for more experienced mums who joke about motherhood with each other on a daily basis. This is totally normal, of course, unless talking to a brand new mum.
Telling a new mum who is in the thick of things and struggles to adjust to all the changes things like ‘Don’t worry, only 18 more years and things will get easier is definitely NOT a good choice.
6. Don’t feel like a new mum must have a desire to get smashed
This is a big mistake lot of new mum’s friends make (unintentionally, of course). Especially the ones who have no children.
There’s no doubt a mum is happy if she gets out once in a while. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she desires to drink ten shots and go clubbing until the early hours.
Of course, some mothers do need to let off steam more than others.
But if she does not want to cross a certain line of “fun”, don’t try and pressurise her. Don’t say things like: ‘Don’t be such an oldie!”, ‘How often do you have a chance to get out?’ ‘You need to know how to relax!’ ‘Don’t think about the baby all the time, have some fun!’
Once a woman becomes a mother, her priorities turn by 180 degrees and she often prefers to spend time with friends somewhere peaceful chatting over tea.
7. Don’t intrude any advice unless a mum asks for it
Every new mum has a LOT of things going on in her life and in her mind.
She has to learn and make mistakes until she finds her own way of doing things.
If people around overwhelm her with a flood of advice, it often makes more harm than good. If from one direction she hears ‘Not like that, you have to do it this way and from the other ‘Who told you to it like that?…do it like this… ‘, it can be extremely distressing.
A new mum can even start to doubt herself and falls into the trap of anxiety or depression.
Always remember, if you’re not sure about anything, ask a mum openly what you can do to help.
This way you certainly can’t go wrong.
7 simple tips on how to support a new mum
Here you go!
Which of these tips resonated with you the most? Let me know in the comments!