Make myself useful when visiting a newly postpartum person?
Updated: Mar 12, 2021
Newborns - we are hardwired to respond to everything about them. It's no wonder then that when most of us visit new families we flock to the baby instinctively, almost reflexively, and that's ok - but, I'm here to remind you there is important work to be done when visiting a newly postpartum person. You're being allowed into their sacred space at a vulnerable moment in their lives. Your job is to honor, respect, and support them. You do this by making yourself useful and not expect to be hosted while visiting. They should feel rejuvenated, not relieved, when you say good-bye at the end of your time with them. Here are 7 simple, yet powerful ways you can be of service to the new family in your life;
1. Wear a clean mask.
2. Wash your hands, without being asked, as soon as you enter their home, AND (if you've been given permission) before holding the baby.
3. Feed Them - never show up empty handed. Always bring nutritious snacks, a prepared meal, or their favorite smoothie. Be sensitive to dietary needs, restrictions, allergies, and lifestyle choices. Tea, Soups, Casseroles, Freezer Meals, Crockpot Meals, Granola, Gift Certificates to a local delivery restaurant, Egg Bakes, as well as a couple of snack plates of cut up fruit, vegetables, nuts or seeds easily grabbed from the fridge is heaven sent to a tired recovering parent. Here's a recent post I wrote that will walk you through making a gift of nutritious and also beautiful overnight oats for a lucky family to enjoy.
Once you've put away the goodies you brought it's time to bring a cup of tea and a warm meal to the new mama who you've hopefully encouraged to either rest in bed or put her feet up in her favorite chair. Because remember - you don't expect them to entertain you - you're there to be of service.
4. Clean For Them - scan the space to see what simple things need to be done around the house. Dishes? CHECK! Laundry? CHECK! Entertaining siblings? CHECK! Wiping down counters? CHECK! Scrub the Toilet? CHECK! Tidy the Living Space? CHECK! Meal Prep? CHECK! Mow the Lawn? CHECK! Shovel the Snow? CHECK! Don't stand on circumstance, just jump in and get it done.
5. Listen To Them - As parents we often feel like we have no idea what we're doing, that we're doing everything wrong, and that we're invisible islands in the middle of an infinite sea. Emotions and hormones run especially high during the 4th trimester. New parenthood is a rollercoaster ride - don't add to the stress with unasked for advice, judgement or opinions. So what can you do to be of service during this tender & sacred time? You can listen without judgement. Reassure them that what they're feeling and experiencing is normal and in time they'll start to feel like themselves again. Remind them that even though it feels like we have no idea what we're doing, we're still - some how - doing it exactly right. Finally, encourage them to quiet all the outside noise and trust their instincts because they know themselves, and their little ones, better than anyone else.
Let them know you've got everything taken care of so they can take that long overdue nap, grab a shower or take a sitz bath, sit outside in the warm sun or whatever they need to feel normal, pampered, refreshed and rejuvenated.
6. Advocate for them - Newly postpartum parents often have their voices quieted by well-meaning professionals, friends, and family. Instead, listen to their wishes and help them get the best support with what they need. Advocate for them and help them advocate for themselves and their baby.
7. Don't Overstay Your Welcome - 10 to 60 minutes - tops! Also: remember, in our time of technology, texting is your friend. Send messages every so often telling them how awesome they are! What an incredible job they're doing and how proud you are of them.
Additional Resources: •Understanding Postpartum Anxiety
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