We’re in lockdown and it sucks. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic and it’s terrifying. We’re in January and the blues are mercilessly kicking in. We’re new mothers and it’s petrifying.
What do we ask for? A little support. That ever so limited COVID-permitting shoulder to cry on. That extra body to lean on. An occasional extra pair of hands. A hot cup of coffee. We miss it. We want it. We need it. And here’s what you can do to help –
Check in, often.
Checking in on friends and family during a pandemic is very important, and checking in on hormonal, sleep-deprived new mothers who lack the general given support, is paramount.
Yes, there’s limited social opportunities available these days, but we’re all still glued to our phone screens as per normal. Even new mums. Between googling ‘is it normal for my newborn to…’ and tracking nappy changes or feeding times on an app round the clock, we are thankful someone is checking in to see how we are coping with everything.
So send us a text, give us a call, drop a bag of coffee at the door. Do something nice to show you care. And I don’t mean send the generic ‘I’m here if you want to talk…’ text that makes you feel like a better person for checking in. I’m talking about the real ‘I want to help out. What do you need me to do?’ nitty gritty that is there to support the other person. We need it more than we will ever admit it out loud.
Still give us space.
Check in, but don’t take it personally if we don’t reply straight away, or at all. Give us space to get adjusted to our new demanding routine, but don’t give up on reaching out frequently. If we are struggling and won’t pick up your call, send us a text to say you’re thinking of us and leave it there. Knowing that someone’s taken the time to check in and say hello, is precious for someone whose days now all roll into one. We’ll reply when we are ready. Unless we forget to. Baby brain is still very much a thing. That’s why it’s also important for you to check in often.
Some adult talk, please.
If you do speak to a new mum, don’t just ask about the baby. We’re already suffering from loss of our own identity, feeling like an automatic milk dispenser, on-call nappy changer and round the clock baby bouncer. We love being a new mum but so miss being an adult for 10 seconds.
Cook something tasty.
Food brings people together. Fact. At least it used to, before this dreadful virus. But being locked in doesn’t mean we can’t still share the love through food. It just has to contain a lot more hand sanitiser and a lot less cross contamination.
As a new mother there’s plenty to worry about and even more to get done, so hours go past without realising we’ve not had a hot meal. We occasionally grab a biscuit to dunk into a cold cup of tea for an instant sugar rush.
So if you’ve still got leftover stock of flour and yeast from Lockdown 1, cook something tasty and share it with us. We promise to return the favour and fill your hearts with love and cookies once little one learns to stop licking the cookie dough off the mixing spoon.
Go for a socially distanced walk.
Even the UK government acknowledges that human contact can’t be fully out-ruled for the sake of our mental health. We’re social creatures who need a bit of human interaction, as limited as it may be, to function properly.
Going for a 1-2-1 socially distanced walk with a new mum will force her get out of the house for that much needed vitamin D. Days sometimes pass without changing our jammies or brushing our hair, so having a fixed time in the diary to meet outdoors pushes us to have a shower, get changed into our adult clothes and feel more human again. Plus, the fresh air helps our bodies and the company soothes our minds.
Be a supportive support bubble.
Under the gov.uk’s guidance, anyone with a child ‘who is under the age of one or was under that age on 2 December 2020’ can form a much needed support bubble.
I think all new mums shed a tear (or cried uncontrollably!) when the news was announced. After months of attending scans by ourselves, worrying whether our partners will be able to stay with us during labour (I mean the whole nine years not just active labour), here we were, being acknowledged by the officials and allowed to have some much needed support.
And we started dreaming. Dreaming of actual hugs from a close one, endless cups of hot drinks in our hand and a few extra hours of uninterrupted sleep while knowing that baby is still getting cuddles and being lovingly looked after.
I mean, that’s my demand list. At least the start of it. But I can’t tell you exactly how to support another new mum within your support bubble, simply because everyone’s needs are different. My obsession with coffee may not be what another person needs nor appreciates.
But something tells me that sitting down over a cup of hot steamy beverage of your choice, and asking about what support is needed for both baby and new parents, is something that all involved parties will value from. So find out what they need you to do and see if you can do it.
Plus, let’s be honest. As a support bubble providing essential help, you’ll be paid in countless baby cuddles and that is absolutely priceless. Especially during these ‘unprecedented times’.