5 simple and thoughtful ways to support a friend who just had a baby
One of my best friends in the world is currently expecting her first baby.
She is one of the coolest, strongest and most capable women I know, so I have no doubt she will ace motherhood, just like she does everything else in her life.
And while part of me feels like I want to literally bombard her with every nugget of parenting advice I have picked up and learned the hard way over these past eight years since becoming a mum myself, I won't. Because I know she'll figure it out by herself. And if she wants to know my thoughts or opinion on something, she knows I am always at the other end of the phone.
In the meantime, I will just do what any good friend should do when their friend has a baby.
1. Don't invite yourself over
Look, of course, you are super-excited to see your friend with her brand new bundle, but those first couple of weeks after coming home from hospital are hard. Night and day have little meaning, and remember, she is recovering from birthing an actual human.
What you absolutely don't want to do, is drop in unexpectedly – even if you mean well and intend to just get a look at the baby or drop in a present.
Send a text (and don't feel offended if it takes her ages to reply – she is probably stuck under a sleeping baby or, you know, just trying to re-calibrate physically, mentally and emotionally), and wait for an invitation to come see her and the baby.
2. Send her flowers (or a card)
Even if you haven't visited yet, but just to let her know you are thinking of her and feel so happy for her.
3. Bring food
Being in the newborn phase is overwhelming, so anything you can do to make life easier for your friend is always good. When she is ready for you to visit, I suggest bringing over some home-baked treats (energy bars are great, both because breastfeeding mums need all the energy they can get, and also it is handy, she can eat one with one hand – if the other one is busy holding the baby.)
Alternatively, buy some ready-meals in your local M&S (preferably ones she can freeze), so that she has some easy, yummy dinners on hand these next few days.
4. Offer your help (but don't force it on her)
The one thing I think I remember most from those hazy newborn days, it that feeling of never getting to do anything – other than hold and/or feed the baby, that is. If you've ever had a baby, you'll know what I mean. Even just trying to get into the shower for a super-quick wash can take all day before you manage to actually get it done.
It is like that for all of us. Which means; when you visit a friend who just gave birth, do offer to hold the baby so they can do anything. Literally, whatever your friend needs, she should get. A shower, a nap, a Starbucks-run — all of it will be helpful and work wonders for helping your friend feel like a regular person again and give her a much-needed break – without having to stress about if the baby is okay.
Also – don't feel offended if you offer to hold the baby and your friend declines. All mums are different, and just be patient – she might not feel ready to let anyone hold the baby just yet. But she will.
5. Remember siblings
When my little boy was born my little girl, my firstborn, was three. And I remember how strange and upsetting I thought it must be from her, going from being the absolute centre of the universe, the one who, every time someone visited our house, was lavished with treats and attention, to now finding herself slightly in second place after this new baby.
When my best friend came to see us, she brought a little small something for the baby (who, in fairness, would not even be aware he had a visitor, never mind got a present), and instead made the visit about "Congratulations, you're a Big Sister" celebration for my three-year-old, who was treated to a whole lot of presents like new colouring books, crayons, t-shirts, some plastic necklaces and just stuff that really, really got her excited and – more importantly – made her feel included and part of this whole new thing that was going on.