When a baby is born, so is a mama. Yet throughout pregnancy, the majority of the planning and preparation is for the newborn. We have a baby shower. There is a nursery to plan. We make decisions about pediatricians and childcare. But what do we need as new moms? In many cases the most thought we put into that question is packing a hospital bag. That might be because it’s almost impossible to predict what you’ll need. Everyone reacts differently to motherhood, just like every baby is unique.
There is one universal need though – support from our village. Nothing beats a friend stopping by to hold your baby so you can take a shower or a family member dropping off a home-cooked meal. In the era of COVID and social distancing, this type of support can be difficult to provide. There are still ways you can support the new moms in your life and say, “I’m here! You matter. Your mental health matters. You are still your own person, even if it all feels mixed up right now.” Below you’ll find lots of ideas to help build the ultimate care package for all of the expecting moms in your life.
Mental Health Support for New Moms
Brave New Mama by Vicki Rivard is a beautiful book of poetry about those precious newborn days. It is my go-to gift for all the moms in my life. A well-read copy still sits on my nightstand from my daughter’s newborn days. Each poem is like a hug from your best friend. She captures all the emotions of those tender first days in breath-taking, honest, raw, prose. Even if you’ve never liked poetry before, the shared experience of motherhood will help the words find a home in your heart.
Moods in Motion: A Coloring & Healing Book for Postpartum Moms by Karen Kleiman is perfect for the creative moms in your life. Each page in the coloring book illustrates a common side effect of giving birth and offers recommendations for healing. This book is similar to meditation – by channeling anxieties and fear into art, new moms may feel their stress easing and more control over their environment.
Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts, also by Karen Kleiman, is any new mom’s best friend when it comes to dealing with postpartum emotions, especially intrusive thoughts. Each section is short enough to read during a feeding. The book uses cartoons, exercises and advice to help new moms realize they are not alone in their “scary thoughts.”
Life with a new baby involves staying home a lot (and that was true even before COVID). Subscriptions to streaming or delivery services will help new moms stay entertained or have easy access to groceries or takeout. For streaming, the options are almost endless. You can give gift subscriptions to Netflix, Disney+, or even the new Discovery+ (great if she’s a huge Joanna Gaines fan). Having a favorite show to watch during a midnight feeding is the ultimate comfort.
For delivery services, having a gift subscription to Shipt is every new parent’s dream. Delivery options in the Lansing area include Meijer, Target, CVS, and even GNC. Nothing is more convenient than realizing you’re almost out of diapers and being able to order them for delivery in two hours (especially with a fussy newborn clinging to you). DoorDash or Grubhub gift cards are great options to give moms their favorite meal. A little self care in the form of a fancy to-go meal can help any new mom feel human again.
Gift cards to your friend’s favorite places offer her a perfect “just for me” pick-me-up. Think coffee shops, spas, bookstores, home design stores, massage therapy – any place she can’t be tempted to spend the money on baby instead. One of the most thoughtful gifts I received when I was expecting my daughter was a gift card to my favorite bookstore and coffee shop. There was a note attached that said, “We spend so much time celebrating the baby we sometimes forget to support the woman who is bringing this miracle into the world. When you are ready, I hope these gift cards give you a chance to breathe. Caring for yourself is just as important as it was before baby.”
It takes a village to raise a baby AND a new mom. Next time you have a baby shower to attend, think about including a gift just for the new mom – it might just be the one that she cherishes the most.