One of the sweetest things I can think of to do for a newly postpartum mom is to bring something for her. So often, people bring something for the baby, which is lovely and generous, of course, but a gift for mom is a beautiful, tangible way to let her know that her job is important and that she’s remembered, too. And usually baby is already well taken care of; it’s mom who needs a little TLC, right?
When we really look at it we can be honest and admit our postpartum culture in our wonderful country stinks. It really does. In most places around the world and throughout history a woman would have a whole community of women gathering around to help for at least six weeks. She barely gets out of bed, doesn’t have to think about cooking or cleaning or tending her other children, and is able to focus her primary attention on nursing, bonding with her baby, and healing.
but what we can do is think of small ways to show mom that she matters, too
Here? We get maybe a week, two if we’re lucky, sometimes with a couple meals from lovely friends dropped off at the door (and often those friends have their own brood of little ones to tend to), and then we’re done and expected to be back to normal life again. When a woman has a need to be cared for physically, mentally, and emotionally and when the community has the chance to truly show their support of new life, we kinda fail. It doesn’t foster a culture of life and doesn’t breed well for healthy motherhood. It’s no coincidence that our rate of PPD, postpartum physical issues, and nursing complications is higher.
We’re not going to change that overnight, especially when many of us are running our homes and raising little ones, but what we can do is think of small ways to show mom that she matters, too. And maybe in that way do our own little part to support a culture of life.
Always food. A ready made dinner is wonderful or something frozen that she can easily take out on a rough day. So is a batch of healthy muffins or an egg casserole for breakfast. Or a bag of basic groceries. One of the greatest way to help is to organize a meal schedule and pester people to sign up (and yes, sometimes you have to do a lot of pestering) so that at least that first month postpartum has a meal brought every other day. Both Care Calendar and Take Them a Meal are super convenient (and free!) resources for online scheduling so people can pick a day that works for them. A gracious mom would, of course, never snub any meal brought but a gracious giver also should take into account the family’s eating style, preferences, and (of course) allergies.
If a homemade meal is not doable, a gift certificate for any local restaurant that delivers so that she can pick the day she needs it most, is also a wonderful idea.
Oh my, I would be thrilled to get something like this postpartum. What a generous gift that would be! Often you can find deals for housecleaning on sites like Groupon and the like and they’re not too unreasonable. Why not go in on one with a group of friends? Or, if you know she’s not the type of person that would feel guilty and can accept your help, maybe you could offer to come for a few hours yourself and scrub some bathrooms and vacuum while she rests and snuggles that little one?
Bath and Body Items
I’ve made homemade crunchy-type baskets full of personal gifts for the mom and baby but you could certainly do it with store-bought things as well. I like to include some homemade herbal bath packs and bath salts to help with healing, some homemade salve, tea (either a breastfeeding tea or a red raspberry leaf tea would be a good choice to help her body recover), and maybe some calming essential oil blends. If you know her favorite lotion or soap, you could put that in, too. Earth Mama Angel Baby makes some wonderful natural products specifically for postpartum moms – balm, bath herbs, and bottom spray to name a few.
A few of our local massage therapists have just begun offering in-house postpartum services! Wouldn’t that be lovely to give? A gift certificate (again, maybe with a few friends if you can’t afford it on your own) for a half hour or hour massage where mom didn’t even have to pack up baby and leave her house? Luxury.
Help with Any Older Children
Some moms are more comfortable if you come stay at the house and simply keep the kids busy and fed. Others would love for you to come take the older kids away for a few hours so she can have a little bit of quiet and rest (especially if you have your own children that will need to be there). Ask her which one she would prefer and respect her boundaries with what is allowed and not allowed with her children. (And please don’t bring them back high on sugar or too overtired! ;)
A Spiritual Bouquet
One of the absolute best gifts I think you could give a mom is the gift of prayer. You can do it yourself or, even better, arrange for a group of friends to offer their own Rosaries, Masses, sacrifices, and other prayers for her during this special yet often difficult time. Let her know in a card or some other way the things that you are all doing to lift her up in prayer and support her. Maybe attach a Blessed Mother, Saint Brigid (patroness of newborns), or Saint Monica (patroness of mothers) medal or prayer card along with it.
I’m confident that helping and supporting and valuing postpartum mothers more is vital to building up a culture of life. Got any other ideas of tangible ways we can support these moms? Please share any ideas you have (or things you valued or would have loved to have had yourself) in the combox!
Mary Haseltine is a mom to four (and another currently in womb), a certified doula, and writer of things at www.betterthaneden.com where she blogs about babies, birth, her faith, marriage, homeschooling, and any other random ridiculousness that strikes her fancy.