When I was pregnant with Carson, I felt deep down in my swollen ankles that I was going to rock this motherhood gig.
After all, I dutifully scarfed down prenatal vitamins the size of a small buffalo everyday for nine months. Folic acid and I were tight. I slept on my left side, never sat in a recliner, and avoided deli meat like I avoided cocktails – altogether. I was planning a natural birth and did prenatal yoga. Thanks to religious Kegel exercises, my pelvic floor was in excellent shape. I was prepared for mom life.
Delivering Carson was rigorous work, hence the term ‘labor’, but even after that experience I felt pretty good about myself. Come on, I pushed a nine pound baby OUT OF MY WHOLE ENTIRE BODY without so much as a Tylenol. Fistbump.
Our hospital serves new parents a celebration dinner the night before they’re discharged. I distinctly remember nursing Carson with one hand, while indulgently taking a bite of cheesecake with the other. Motherhood was going to be bliss.
Not 24 hours later I found myself quivering in a wheelchair, with a newborn baby strapped in carseat, all precariously balanced on my knees.
“Ma’am are you alright?” the nurse asked.
“Noooooo!” I whimpered in a gush of postpartum hormones, “I can’t do this. Please don’t make me leave. I’m not ready to be a mom.”
She looked down into my baggy, tired new-mommy eyes and smiled. (Smiled!?!?!?!?) “Oh, honey. Everyone says that. You’re going to be just fine.”
With that chipper benediction my bundle of joy and I were loaded into the car with no manual, no coffee, and no clue.
For all my prior bravado, those first few days at home humbled me. When you have some sort of fluid literally leaking out of every opening in your body, it’s hard to feel capable about your ability to do anything, let alone raise a child for the next eighteen years. My blogger friend Natasha jokingly describes this season “the horror fest of newborn breastfeeding and sleeplessness.” Very apt.
I am forever grateful to the women who came around me during those first few months, speaking truth and encouragement into my sleep deprived soul. Bringing meals to our house, urging me to rest, nodding sympathetically while I described Carson’s unpredictable sleeping schedule. I felt like these women were life preservers–beautiful, Jesus-acting, crock pot-bearing life preservers.
Whether or not you have children, there are so many ways you can help a mama adjust to her new role. Maybe you do bring a piping hot meal and a smile. Offer to wash dishes. Pay a friendly visit, and talk about more than just the baby. Make the nursing mom feel welcome to stay in conversation when she needs to feed her little one. Help could even be something as simple as sending an encouraging text or private message.
I especially appreciated receiving gifts that were a bit off the beaten path. Not that layettes and blankets aren’t adorable, but frankly those adorable duds are one newborn diaper explosion away from being stained mustard yellow forever.
Speaking of gifts, these items tremendously helped me as a new mom.
10 Gifts New Moms Will Really Appreciate
Weird name. Amazing results.
2. Size 1+ Diapers
Newborns grow quicker than you can say “like a weed”. Buy diapers a few sizes ahead so when newborn diapers suddenly don’t fit, mom will have backup!
As I said before, new moms will appreciate having expendable clothes on hand. Something like these simple Gerber Unisex-Baby 5 Pack Variety Onesies Brand. (For bonus points, consider getting her a gift card to your local children’s consignment store!)
4. A Diaper Caddy*
We thought for a hot second about getting a changing table, then looked at the square footage of our apartment. No dice. To top it off, changing tables get expensive! One of my favorite baby items has been a portable diaper caddy. We have the Playtex Diaper Genie SmartCaddy Diaper Organizer. It holds everything I could possibly need during a diaper change, and can appear wherever I need it: the bed, the couch, the floor, the kitchen table…just kidding.
Science says breastfeeding is the best option for feeding babies, but science doesn’t make it easy! The first few days are full of engorged bosoms and sore, cracked nipples (yes, you read that right.) Lanolin is an ointment specifically for treating sensitive skin; plus, it’s safe for mom and baby.
6. Nursing Pads & Nursing Tops*
While we’re on the topic of breastfeeding, nursing pads are another great buy for new moms. You can buy disposable or reusable pads. These are super helpful when a mom’s milk supply is first getting established and leaks can be common. (Just as embarrassing as it sounds!) Nursing pads can also protect clothing from lanolin and breastmilk stains. Nursing tops aren’t necessary to breastfeed, but they are super convenient to have on hand! If a mom isn’t planning on breastfeeding, then why not supply her with some bottles or formula?
I might be a bit crunchy on this one, but I swear by amber teething necklaces! If you’re going this route, make sure you get a necklace with 100% Baltic amber beads. The magic happens when a baby’s body heat warms up the amber, a small amount of oil containing succinic acid (an ingredient in pain relievers, and a naturally occurring substance in the body) is released. Carson became a much happier baby after she started wearing her necklace! And if the new mom in your life isn’t jazzed about amber necklaces, then you can send them our way 🙂
8. A Baby Carrier
This suggestion may also be more on the crunchy side, but I really think every mom should give babywearing a try. It’s a great way to give little ones the security and comfort they need, without sacrificing mobility. Many cultures in the world have worn their babies for centuries. Plus, it’s extra snuggle time! There are all types of baby carriers, my personal favorite was the Maya Wrap.
9. A Copy of Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms by Gloria Furman*
This book was beyond encouraging to me as a new mom. I’ve been following Gloria Furman since I read Treasuring Christ and find her to be a wealth of Gospel-centered wisdom and practical advice. As a young mom herself, Gloria doesn’t write from a rosy-eyed perspective. She’s in the trenches. If I could pick five people alive today to invite to dinner, she’d be one!
10. A Prenatal or Postpartum Massage
This suggestion is my most expensive, but if your budget is tight you could go in with a couple friends and make it work. I don’t think your mom friend would complain if she gets a massage before or after baby arrives. Ben gave me a prenatal massage for my birthday, three weeks before my due date, and it was one of the best hours of my life. I felt so relaxed! I’m sure a mom would also appreciate a postpartum massage. Anyway you slice it, being pregnant and delivering a baby takes a toll on your body, a massage can do a world of good.
Above all, I think the best way to love on a new mom is to be available. Be available to listen. Be available to serve. Be available to gift her a little something that shows she’s remembered long after the baby showers are over. Really, loving new moms is like loving anyone else – but knowing you may get spit up on while you’re at it.
*Asterisks denote affiliate links! That means if you choose to click through and purchase the mentioned product, I’ll get a small percent of the sale at no cost to you. It’s a win/win! Thanks so much for helping me keep the lights on here at the blog.