As I get closer to the arrival of my second baby, I'm once again bracing myself for the very challenging postpartum weeks and months, that I experienced just a year and a half ago. I have other close friends going through the same stage of life, and I want to write this post because I realize now how easy it is to be completely clueless about what parents of young children are going through. I'm sure I might forget too, so this is a guide for my future self too.
So here goes, how to bless parents of a newborn, some practical suggestions:
Don't wait for them to ask, or offer help vaguely like "Let me know if you need anything." Offer concrete help.
Drop off fresh meals (especially for immediately after they return from the hospital) and small nutritious snacks for Mama (constant breastfeeding is hungry work). Some ideas: Mini quiches or sausage egg muffins that can be frozen, homemade granola bars, cookies, hummus and chopped carrots and cucumbers, cheese and crackers, banana bread or carrot cake, laddoos, kheer kebabs, fresh fruit juice or milkshakes, smoothies, chicken soup, cut fruit or salads, meatballs, anything that doesn't involve any work except reheating.
Take older kids out for walks in the mornings. Take a snack and water. Prepare to change diapers or take them to the toilet when necessary. Go regularly if possible.
Go over and just hold the baby if needed so parents can take a nap or shower.
Intense level help: If you're a close friend or relative, and if they have noone else, offer to go stay with them overnight/ for a few days/weeks to help with night wake ups, chores, and entertaining older kids. You'll be tired but you can go home and sleep after your sacrifice!
Go over and wash dishes or clean the kitchen or fold laundry or do anything to reduce the chaos.
Do not expect to be entertained or hosted or fed when you're visiting. Only go to help, no social visits till the parents say they're ready. And even then, keep them short.
Don't offer any unsolicited advice or make negative comments about anything. Postpartum hormones are pretty wild, and there may be tears.
Offer mama a massage (if you're a close female friend or relative).. her body is painful and achy for quite a while after giving birth.
Wash your hands before holding the baby. Don't visit if you have a cold, or you've been sick, or you have kids who are sick.
Take some good photos and videos of parents and baby if they're up to it.
If you can't do any of this, just pray for them and offer them words of encouragement and support.
Additional suggestions by other young moms:
Even dropping off chapatis helps! Or a sweet note with some store bought granola bars and coffee sachets.
Hold the baby and entertain the kid/s if you can manage it.
Be a blessing to the parents and make them chai or coffee in their house, and take snacks or fruit
Small things like calling before you go over and offering to buy fruit, veggies, bread, milk or curd for them.
Parents of small babies, any other suggestions?