This blog is more of an opinion piece. Most of my blogs are set in facts around child sleep, behavior, and the research behind it. This blog is based on my experience as a first time parent and having many first time parents in my life.
So take what you will from this Mama Bear.
Just take a moment before reading this blog and think about how you felt just before you became a new parent… and then think about how you felt when your first babe arrived… What did you need? How were you feeling? Can you even remember the details or is it all blurry? Becoming a new parent can be so different for everyone…
The other day I saw a Reel of a newborn Mom during nap time and a toddler Mom during nap time… The newborn Mom was panicking, running around doing all these chores, and basically having a nervous breakdown. The toddler Mom was relaxed and chilling out… It really rubbed me the wrong way. We shouldn’t be ‘poking fun’ of new parents. We should be lifting them up, supporting them, and bringing them into the fold of parenthood with open arms.
There are a lot of things you can do to prepare for becoming a new parent like taking classes on newborn care, sleep, breast feeding, cloth diapering, whatever you want! But nothing can prepare us for welcoming that new little life (or in my case, lives) into the world.
So what are things we can do to take care of our expectant parents?
-Listen. Let them talk. Let them express their excitement, fears, anxieties, joys, and everything in between without needing to put your two cents in.
-Don’t assume. We don’t know each other’s journeys to parenthood. This parent could have conceived right away or it may have been years. Try to be sensitive to everyone’s journey. I have 3 kids already, but I have been trying to conceive my 4th for almost a year… not the assumption someone might make.
-OFFER recommendations or advice. The keyword here is ‘offer.’ We rely on each other a lot to know what to do, but that doesn’t mean we must or want to do it at every turn. If you have a brand of sleep sack you loved or something that really helped your family after baby was born- be sure to offer that up without pushing. There is a lot of information that comes with preparing to become a parent, and they may be at capacity at that moment.
-Lift them up. Shower expectant parents with love, joy, confidence, and warmth. This is an exciting time for most, and we must let this time be theirs to experience, because, as we know, everyone’s parenting journey looks different.
-Set up a Meal Train. This is a very actionable step. A Meal Train is an amazing way for people to show support to new parents without needing to set up a big visit. We had Meal Trains after both of our births, and it was a lifesaver.
Once baby (or babies) has arrived…
It’s important to step back, think of what our own experience was, acknowledge what you needed at that time, and realize that the needs of these parents may be different.
You may have been very excited to share, visit, and have people around. Others may take a few weeks to have time alone with their baby to get to know one another before feeling comfortable to have others around.
You may have run to social media, shared 25 pictures, and shouted your new information from the rooftops. Others may take a moment to share their experience for a variety of reasons that are all valid.
Things we can do to take care of the new parent:
-Again, listen. Listen to their experiences, their hardships, their wins, their joy, their excitement, their exhaustion. Listen with love- that’s what they need.
-Leave it to the professionals. If baby is doing this. Or this is happening with breast feeding. Or Mom feels this. Try not to immediately say your own experience as we never know what’s the same and what is different. A simple ‘Oh. You see red streaks on your breast and it’s hot? You’re right- call the nurse line.’ Or ‘Baby hasn’t peed in 24 hours? Yeah- I agree- call your pediatrician.’ We support and we hand off to the pros.
-Offer. If there is a clear need for something- offer to drop it off, or just drop it off. Like a ninja. Drop it off. Text them to say it’s there. And don’t be hurt if there’s no response- they see you- they will get back to you soon.
-Cheer them on. You may go out for your first outing when your babe is 3 days old. Others may wait until 3 months. Either way, when that first outing happens- be proud. If baby poops through their onesie- which they will- lift them up. They’re doing the thing.
-Do not be a guest. When the new family is ready for you to visit- do not be a guest. Go to their home. Offer to clean, fold laundry, hold baby while they shower or nap… and always, ALWAYS bring food.
-And finally, ALWAYS bring ice cream… When it’s your turn to bring your Meal Train meal- ALWAYS bring ice cream… there is really no excuse… unless you’re driving a long way- then cookies will do.
So there’s my love letter to new parents. What would you add? I would love to know!
Let’s continue to life each other up as we raise these tiny humans. If we do better for each other, we do better for them.
Back to sleep nerdiness next week!