Monday, January 7, 2013

Help a new momma out

It used to be that when I went to visit a friend with a new baby, I always thought of the baby and what little gift I could bring for them. But by the time the baby comes, it has everything it needs. Baby showers and grandparents take care of that.

Where the gift is really needed is with the new mom. And I don’t mean a spa treatment (though I’m sure no one would complain about such a treat). I mean a gift like food, extra hands, and your time.

At the end of my childbirth class they gave us a page to put on our fridge for visitors to see. It had suggestions of what friends visiting can do for you- like take out the garbage, load/unload the dishwasher, or bring a meal.

We live in a time where being a supermom is praised and I think the best way to be a supermom is taking care of yourself and baby and letting other’s take care of you, especially in the beginning.

I was horrified by an article I read recently where a woman was gloating that hours after giving birth she was on her Blackberry, answering emails for work. That to me is not a supermom. That is just sad.

Traditionally, in Asian cultures, mothers are treated like a Queen for the month after giving birth. It is called Zuo Yue Zi, or sitting month. The mother’s only responsibility is to feed her child and rest. Her own mother or other members of the community take care of the rest. They see the month after giving birth as the most important of all. The mother needs this time to restore her health and energy and prevent future illness. Overall, it is the crucial time that will sustain the well-being of both mother and baby for life.

I love this idea of taking care of mom so she can take care of herself and baby. Mom has been through a lot over the past nine months and it ends in a marathon called labor. Besides the UFC throw-down her body has just been through, she now has a large wound inside uterus (approx. 9 inches round) that needs to heal- I’m talking about the exposed wound from the placenta. And there may be other parts of her body, lower down, that need healing. So give the girl a break.

Bring her food, lots of food, and good food that will nourish her body (not that it has to be rabbit food- just leave the In & Out burger for a later date). Or show up empty handed, with good intentions. Do a load of laundry, wash a dish, or massage her feet (if she’s had time to wash them!). And if you think the first visit is gonna be about you, stay away. No high maintenance friends needed (luckily, I got rid of those a long time ago!).

Eventually, the new momma will settle into her new normal and she can try her hand at multi-tasking again but during the first few months, the only multi-tasking she should be doing is feeding the baby and having her back rubbed.

I wish I had known this sage advice before now. I would have been a much better friend to the new mommas in my life. Sorry ladies! Next time, I’ll step it up!

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