Kathleen Murphy of Mamacare Health has some great thoughts to share...
Firstly: Whenever you visit, without exception, bring food. Food is always, always, appropriate and appreciated. At the very least, it should be something you can share together during your visit (so you’re not eating into her supplies). And even better is the gift of an actual meal, to be consumed later that day or week, that will feed her (ravenous new / breastfeeding mother) and any other family members in the house. Ideally, bring snacks and meals that are healthy and nutritious – homemade bars / muffins / biscuits, fresh fruit and veggies, nuts and dips, good quality cheese, soups and stews, etc.
Secondly: You make the tea. Again, this small act of nurturing – such as bringing food – allows the new mama you’re visiting to rest and relax while you visit. Don’t even ask, just put the kettle on and make a pot for you to share. And while you’re at it, check she’s got a full glass of water within easy reach. This will help to ensure your mama friend is keeping her fluid intake up, which increases significantly with breastfeeding.
Thirdly: Respect her space. Of course, you wouldn’t want to intentionally crowd or stress a new mother, but sometimes the rush to see her – or more often, her newborn – as soon after birth as possible, can be very stressful for a mama and her new little family unit. So keep this in mind when you visit and ensure she’s not having to entertain you or others, especially during the first few weeks and months after birth.
And then. Initiate contact and check in regularly. Your new mama may disappear into the baby bubble for some weeks or months, and don’t be offended if you don’t hear from her regularly anymore. The birth of a new baby is a huge physical, emotional and spiritual transition. Not to mention that the needs of a newborn, alongside birth recovery and postpartum transition, can be completely consuming. As a result, new mothers sometimes drop out of regular communication with old friends and family. Checking in regularly with calls, texts or even food parcels (again with the food!) will keep you connected.
Finally: Ask her how she’s feeling and avoid unsolicited advice. The weeks and months after birth are often hugely emotional for a new mama and her family – the joy of new life, the fatigue and hormones, the huge transition to life as a parent. While people are often quick to talk about the wonderful and funny aspects of motherhood, of which there are many, we are not always as open to discussing the challenges and difficulties women experience. And many new mamas feel afraid to voice their struggles or concerns, so it can be hard to start these conversations. By asking how she’s feeling and avoiding judgmental or unsolicited advice, you provide a safe and loving support line for the new mama in your life.