I’ve never been a big believer in the whole “it takes a village” concept. Maybe it’s because I was a very republican high school sophomore when Hillary Clinton first made the phrase popular in 1996. But 20 years later with a newborn baby, I am all in on this concept.
I was blown away by the help and support I received post-partum from people in so many different parts of my life. I learned so much from them about how to be a good friend and how to show love during a vulnerable time of transition. Here are some of my takeaways for creative support for your family and friends who have just had a baby.
Offer gently used baby items.
As I prepared to give birth, there were concerns about the baby’s potentially large size. As a result, I didn’t expect to need any newborn sized clothes. It turns out I did need them for a week or two, and a friend brought a huge bag of gently used boy clothes. It was perfect! Some new moms may only want new items, but others will know that they will use some items for a few months at a time—and be happy to take you up on gently used exersaucers, pack and plays, and bathtubs.
I will forever volunteer to be the person who sets up the online meal calendar sign up for new parents. I was embarrassed to accept the help of a friend who offered to do it, but it changed our lives. Be the person who signs up for a meal—or even two! And while we’re at it…
Be creative with your meal.
This was where I was overwhelmed by the love shown to us. Thoughtful friends brought us breakfast along with dinner, which was so helpful after a night of no sleep. Some brought store-bought dinners, others brought carry-out from a restaurant. All were delicious. A bottle of wine, a split of champagne…these were extra special additions to the delicious meals. Gift cards to restaurants that delivered were a blessing. One friend who dropped off a meal before she went to work one morning also brought hot Starbucks coffee. I had tears in my eyes as I brought the food in from the front porch.
Come over. Or don’t.
Depending on the nature of your relationship, please don’t make the birth of the baby the time you insist on visiting. This won’t apply to everyone, of course, but it is something to keep in mind. Consider whether it’s cold/flu season or if a virus is going around. There will be time to love on the sweet baby once his/her immune system is stronger! Don’t take it personally if the new parents aren’t as welcoming as you expected.
But do something.
There were a couple of unexpected people in our lives who gently insisted on offering different types of help even after I repeatedly declined. There are a number of passive things you can do to help a new parent. (and if you’re a new mom, don’t be as prideful as I!)
Whether you send a card, send a text, or send a meal, showing love and encouragement to a friend post-partum is a wonderful gift that won’t be forgotten!