Let new moms lead: Advice from a midwife

How friends and family should support a couple in the first several weeks after birth

My cousin had a baby 5 months ago. I went to the baby shower, gave her clothes & bath salts, and thought about how she didn’t know how much her reality would change.

When her daughter was born I didn’t see her for 2 months. While this experience is typical, it also felt wrong. Being a mom, I know those first 6 weeks are rough.

So, how do you support a new mom?

I recently sat down with the founder of Midwife Cafe and the Professional Postpartum Care Provider Organization, Jacky Bloemraad-de Boer. Sharing learnings from her 20+ years of experience in maternal health, Jacky explained how to support a new mom once the baby arrives.

Source: midwifecafe.com

What’s wrong with the status quo?

Western cultures generally take a biomedical view of birth. This means monitoring a new mother for things like bleeding and infection after the baby is born. Then she is sent home with almost no follow-up.

This model suggests that couples should be going it alone. It’s total misinformation,” Jacky explained.

Being left to figure it out the first few weeks after birth isn’t just isolating. It overlooks the social and emotional aspects of this life change and it sets unrealistic pressure on a new mother and her partner.

So, how do you help?

  1. Let the new mom lead. Ask her to use her network and delegate household tasks, like cooking and laundry.

For example, consider encouraging her to set up a meal train. This is where friends and family sign-up to schedule dinner drop-offs or food delivery for the first several weeks.

“She’s not staying in the child role,” Jacky highlighted.

The point is to support her as she transitions to leading her family and to encourage her to seek emotional and physical support as a normal need. Pampering misses the point because it undermines her capabilities.

2. Embrace other experts. Set the example that not one person is supposed to know everything about caring for a baby.

For instance, if breastfeeding is difficult, reference a lactation consultant or a resource like the La Leche League.

3. Coach to build confidence. Every baby is unique. There is also more than one way to do most tasks; these are new skills to figure out.

Let a new mom find her style as she learns about her baby. Highlight what’s going well and avoid giving nitpicky feedback.

When the new mom feels more supported and empowered, she’ll be more confident and better able to care for herself and her baby.

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