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6 ways to help new parents |
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6 ways to help new parents

The Washington Post
| Sunday, November 15, 2015 9:00 p.m

The birth of a baby is a wondrous thing — and nothing less than the crux of our entire human existence. But let us not forget: When a baby is born, so too is a mother. As tempting as it is to buy adorable baby toys and outfits, it is the mother who needs us most after childbirth. Sure, bring the tiny cute stuff if you like, but do this too:

Bring food. New parents do not have the time nor energy to plan meals, grocery shop and spend hours in the kitchen. It is an incredibly nourishing act to feed someone you care about. Nourish her. Bring everything she needs, including paper plates. Eat with her if she wants the company, and just leave the food with her if she wants to collapse later and eat it on the couch.

Support her baby-feeding choices. So she wants to breastfeed. Don’t give her the idea that she has to hide away out of sight while she’s nursing. If she decides to stop breastfeeding and move to formula, acknowledge that she knows what is best for her family. Don’t lecture, or inquire why she stopped. Let her be, and thank heavens there are safe, nutritious formulas.

Call or text her from the grocery store. “I’m out at Target. Can I pick up anything for you while I’m here?” Small to you, huge to her.

Take the big kids. If she’s just had her second or third child or beyond, offer to drive the older ones to preschool or soccer. Invite them over to play with your kids. If you’re close, see if the new parents would like you to pick up the big kids for an overnight visit.

Listen, and don’t assume she is loving new motherhood. If she shows signs of postpartum depression, help her feel OK about asking her doctor for additional care. She may not know if what she is feeling is a normal bout of blues, or something that could use a little extra attention from her medical provider.

Support maternal leave and postpartum care in the United States. By now most of us have heard the statistic: the United States is one of just three countries in the world that do not provide guaranteed paid maternity leave. What does that mean, really, for American mothers? Most women cobble together some mix of vacation days, paid disability leave, and unpaid time off. Consider this: many, almost one-quarter in one recently reported study, American mothers return to work within one or two weeks of birth.

— The Washington Post

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