5 PERFECT THINGS TO SAY TO A NEW MAMA
New moms are a delicate breed. I’m not saying they can’t be incredibly tough – because they are. Especially when it comes to protecting and fighting for their babies, don’t cross them. But, new mamas are also emotionally wrecked, physically drained, mentally exhausted and (typically) running on little or no sleep.
On one hand you have this amazing, beautiful little bundle. On the other, you likely have stitches in one of two places (whether you delivered vaginally or via C), you’re still swollen, carrying the baby weight, with newly swollen breasts and raging hormones that – if you’re like me – reek havoc on your skin. Needless to say you’re a little bit self-conscious. Plus nothing holds a candle to your level of self-consciousness about this new gig you picked up (aka motherhood).
So, be gentle to new mama’s. Here are five things that different, random people told me that gave me all the feels.
1.“You look so skinny.”
I can remember climbing out of the hospital bed for the first time after my C-section and waddling to the bathroom. My legs and ankles were still swollen from pregnancy (among other things) and I completely avoided looking in the mirror. I was completely exhausted, and I just wanted to get out of the hospital gown that flashed my back side every time I walked and was actually pretty difficult to nurse in. As instructed by umpteen million bloggers, I had packed some comfy, loose jammies for the hospital. They were incredibly comfortable, but did nothing for my self-esteem. When I finally did glance in the mirror however, my still-swollen – now sore from my incision – belly made me feel super self-conscious. Especially with visitors wanting to come and see my sweet babe who were all showered, make-uped, hair-curled and bright eyed. But my amazing sister, she was the one. She was holding my precious girl at one point when I got up to use to the bathroom.
“Wow, Leah. You look so skinny. Seriously. ” She said.
I could have cried, and hugged her, and kissed her, and cried some more. Seriously, every Mama needs to hear that after she gives birth. I don’t care what she looks like. Tell her. You look so skinny. Seriously.
2. “Let me know what you need, I will help you.”
This is reserved for those who actually mean it. Because new mamas, they’re going to need help. Whether it’s a meal, a load of laundry, a babysitter so Mama can snag a 15 minute nap, a shoulder to cry on, a cup of coffee or a hand to hold, Mama’s gonna need some help. I have an amazing support system. My Mom took care of me, my husband and Tess for a week after we came home. Truly, I don’t know what we would have done without her. Not to mention the countless others who were my caterers (literally my sweet husband would have starved if it wasn’t for my sister and Mom making us freezer meals) shoulder to cry on, Tess’s doting fan club and my sounding board for everything new-Mom related. Just be prepared, if you offer, Mama will probably take you up on it.
3. “You’re a champ.”
Delivering a baby is tough. I know everyone talks about the empowering experience – but it’s just as emotionally and mentally as exhausting as it is physically. Instead of feeling empowered, I felt defeated. If you’re like me and you struggle through a long labor only to deliver via C-section, you need to have somebody in your corner who tells you that you are amazing. Going in to the hospital I truly had no idea what to expect from my sweet husband. He’s never dealt with any major trauma, broken bones, stitches, blood – you get the picture. But I could not have brought my little one into this world without him. For hours, as my contractions came crashing one after the other he held counter-pressure on my back and tried to give me some relief. Then when we finally got to a point where I could push, he was there, holding my hand. All of those things were incredibly helpful – but the one thing that really made the difference? When the doctor told me “Baby girl is having pretty steady decels, I can let you push for another thirty minutes – but after that I’m going to take you into the OR,” basically you can keep trying but this baby isn’t coming out vaginally, I started to cry. I wasn’t sad or disappointed in myself, I was simply so overwhelmed. Everything was different than I thought, than I planned, than I imagined. But sweet husband, he squeezed my hand after we finally had our little one on the outside, and he said, “You’re a champ, baby.”
4. “Remember to take care of yourself, too.”
This is one that probably needs to be said more than once. By more than one person, on various occasions. Mamas are worried about one thing, and that’s the health of their baby. They can’t be thinking about carrying around a water bottle, or eating nutritious meals to promote their own recovery, or making sure to sleep 8 hours a day. Literally, the only thing that consumes new mama’s brain is her baby. She’ll need the encouragement from her tribe to remember herself. Trust me, she will need a lot. My mom told me. My friends told me. My cousins told me. My mother-in-law told me. But it didn’t really resonate with me until my Grandma told me. She is an amazing lady. Sharp, logical, considerate, strong and patient. She’s the mother of ten children, two of whom are twins. When she told me “Make sure you are taking care of yourself, Leah” I thought Whoa. You know, other people can say that kind of thing because they’re not in it. If they are moms well don’t remember what it’s like, or they didn’t have the same experience – you know, you can convince yourself of pretty much anything. But Grandma? She had TEN kids. You don’t think ONE of them would have given her a similar experience? She was the one who made those words take root. Especially if you know a new mama who is breastfeeding, make sure she is taking care of herself. Otherwise, she can’t take care of baby, either. Which will stress her out on a whole new level. Not good for anyone involved. So, really, #2 and 4 go hand in hand.
5. “Babies Don’t Keep.”
When a mama brings home her new baby, expect that she will be completely consumed with him/her for at least a few weeks. At some point laundry will litter the floor, dishes will pile up in the sink (and around the house), dust will collect everywhere, she’ll probably be covered in some form of bodily fluid. Then she will sort of, wake up, from her own sort of babymoon and start to feel overwhelmed and…guilty. But someone needs to remind that mama, babies don’t keep. The laundry will always be there, dishes pile up, dust collects in corners – but your baby will grow up. Tomorrow, your baby will be bigger and more alert than she was today. They will always grow, always change. There is nothing more important than soaking up those sweet moments. Those precious newborn yawns. The tiny fingers and toes. The cooing and gurgling. Even the newborn cries – they change so quickly. Don’t wish them away. Tell that new mama to let that baby sleep on her chest, sleep in her arms, rest on her lap. Soak up every.precious.minute. Because, babies don’t keep.