Anyone who has been there knows — transitioning to motherhood can be hard. My son is almost two, but I can remember those first weeks and months like it was just yesterday. As a mom who started off with a colicky baby, and by no means entered motherhood gracefully, these are the three things many new moms need to hear for reassurance along this sometimes rocky ride. Advice can be well-intentioned and helpful, but it also might be outdated or overwhelming.
These three reassurances can have a positive impact on new moms:
1. Other parents do not have it figured out: we are all out here winging it
Instagram can tell a different story and make it seem like everyone else out there has this whole baby/parenting thing figured out. It’s just not true, and new moms need to know they aren’t alone or failing.
Share your experiences – how did you feel when you left the hospital with your new baby? I can remember my uncle saying how crazy it felt leaving the hospital with his firstborn. His reaction was somewhere along the lines of, “Really, you are letting us leave with this brand new little person??”
Just saying something like, “I remember when I came home with my baby I felt clueless” can work against the lie that everyone else has it down.
2. It’s okay not to be okay, and its okay to ask for help
Another lie that new moms can believe is that they should be happy all the time because they have this beautiful new baby. Many moms deal with the baby blues, but new moms can feel like they are the only ones sad or struggling. This perception can keep them from sharing their true feelings and for asking for support.
When you visit (or call/text) a friend with a new baby, don’t just go all googly-eyed over that beautiful new baby. Look at that new mom, and ask her something along the lines of, “How are you holding up? I know the transition to motherhood can be so hard. How are dealing?” And if you experienced the baby blues as many of us do, let them know. Help normalize these feelings, communicate that you are a safe person they can be honest with, and encourage your friend to get help if needed.
3. Tell new moms they are doing a good job
It may be obvious to us that our friend is doing a great job, and completely unknown to them. They may be struggling and have unrealistic expectations for themselves. Highlight to them that you see all they are doing, they are doing a great job, and they will continue to grow and learn.
As a mom to a colicky baby, my confidence as a mother was deflated. I saw other friends with babies that didn’t cry as much. Friends who reassured me that I was doing what I could for my baby helped me a lot.
These days new moms have many sources of advice. The internet, grandmas, friends, and strangers on the street that like to express their strong feelings on breastfeeding or whether or not your baby has enough layers on…
What new moms often need first and foremost before everyone’s opinion is reassurance. Reassurance that they aren’t alone. That it’s fine to feel however they feel, and they aren’t the only ones that have felt that way. That they are kicking butt, even when it feels like they are getting their butt kicked.
Be the friend that brings that reassurance. And coffee. Please bring coffee.