I get it. Sometimes, people are caught off guard my new mothers. What do I do for her? Do I even know her that well? What can I offer, really? It’s hard to know where we individually stand in a mother’s life, if we can just waltz over to her home, whether or not to bring a meal (Do they have allergies? I don’t even know!) or just flowers or whether we should just can the idea altogether for the sake of boundaries and privacy.
The thing is: all of these concerns have grounds. You’re absolutely right to be nervous! From one mother to the next, there are different needs. One mother will want everyone to come visit and share her joy. Another mother might want to just be left alone after a difficult labor. Overall, privacy and rest are something new mothers need. But, they also need support and extra hands. It’s a conundrum!
We put together this simple infographic as a guide each time someone you know has a baby. Just find your circle (inner circle, outer circle, or acquaintances) according to your relationship with mom. Are you a neighbor? Coordinate a neighborhood gift, but also give space after you deliver it. Old friends who stayed in contact on-and-off? Bring a meal and offer to do the dishes or make tea. Is she your best friend? Well, you already know what to do, but don’t forget her emotions and her need to process it all.
This is a guide only. These aren’t hard and fast rules. Maybe she is an old friend, but if you feel strongly that you could pitch in more like her inner circle because of the closeness you once shared with her, go for it. Follow your gut. Tune in to the mother and let her be your guide.