After the Birth, what a family needs

 “Let me know if I can help you in any way when the baby is born.” … “Just let me know if you need a hand.” … “Anything I can do, just give me a call.”

Most pregnant women get these statements from friends and family but shy away from making requests when they are up to their ears in dirty laundry, unmade beds, dust bunnies and countertops crowded with dirty dishes. The myth of “I’m fine, I’m doing great, new motherhood is wonderful, I can cope and my husband is the Rock of Gibraltar” is pervasive in postpartum land. If you’re too shy to ask for help and make straight requests of people, I suggest sending the following list out to your friends and family. These are the things I have found to be missing in every house with a new baby. It’s actually easy and fun for outsiders to remedy these problems for the new parents but there seems to be a lot of confusion about what’s wanted and needed…

1. Buy us toilet paper, milk and beautiful whole grain bread.

2. Buy us a new garbage can with a swing top lid and 6 pairs of black cotton underpants (women’s size____).

3. Make us a big supper salad with feta cheese, black Kalamata olives, toasted almonds, organic green crispy things and a nice homemade dressing on the side. Drop it off and leave right away. Or, buy us frozen lasagna, garlic bread, a bag of salad, a big jug of juice, and maybe some cookies to have for dessert. Drop it off and leave right away.

4. Come over about 2 in the afternoon, hold the baby while I have a hot shower, put me to bed with the baby and then fold all the piles of laundry that have been dumped on the couch, beds or in the room corners. If there’s no laundry to fold yet, do some.

5. Come over at l0 a.m., make me eggs, toast and a 1/2 grapefruit. Clean my fridge and throw out everything you are in doubt about. Don’t ask me about anything; just use your best judgment.

6. Put a sign on my door saying “Dear Friends and Family, Mom and baby need extra rest right now. Please come back in 7 days but phone first. All donations of casserole dinners would be most welcome. Thank you for caring about this family.”

7. Come over in your work clothes and vacuum and dust my house and then leave quietly. It’s tiring for me to chat and have tea with visitors but it will renew my soul to get some rest knowing I will wake up to clean, organized space.

8. Take my older kids for a really fun-filled afternoon to a park, zoo or Science World and feed them healthy food.

9. Come over and give my husband a two hour break so he can go to a coffee shop, pub, hockey rink or some other r & r that will delight him. Fold more laundry.

10. Make me a giant pot of vegetable soup and clean the kitchen completely afterwards. Take a big garbage bag and empty every trash basket in the house and reline with fresh bags.

These are the kindnesses that new families remember and appreciate forever. It’s easy to spend money on gifts but the things that really make a difference are the services for the body and soul described above. Most of your friends and family members don’t know what they can do that won’t be an intrusion. They also can’t devote 40 hours to supporting you but they would be thrilled to devote 4 hours. If you let 10 people help you out for 4 hours, you will have the 40 hours of rested, adult support you really need with a newborn in the house. There’s magic in the little prayer “I need help.”

First posted online August 2001
 
     

   

  

   

About gloria

I live and work in Vancouver BC Canada. I've been in the childbirth business for 30 years. I teach midwifery and doula courses both online and in person.
This entry was posted in Holistic midwifery & doula education, Homebirth, Postpartum care. Bookmark the permalink.

206 Responses to After the Birth, what a family needs

  1. MamaVee says:

    Gloria, this is such a practical, beautiful list. I am a doula and I would really love to give this to families that I work with. Do you mind if I print it off and distribute it to the women I work with?

  2. gloria says:

    Yes, you can print it off as long as you include the url to my blog. Glad that it will be helpful.

  3. Leigh says:

    I would love to share this on my blog, as well! I will certainly include credit and links to you. Thank you so much for your always-informative and inspiring posts.

  4. gloria says:

    thanks, Leigh. Gloria

  5. Bettie M. says:

    I’d like to see this list tacked up on every hydro pole, doctor’s office & fence in the universe. It is true, women esp. are too shy to ask for help or even accept it when it is offered.

    I am reminded of my sister when she was in her 20s, with a baby + 4 young children and one day she was beyond exhausted and the dishes were piled up to the ceiling and the house looked like hell. An older neighbour woman happened to came over and when she sized up the situation did a whole bunch of the housework because my sister was at the point where she could barely move!

    Why aren’t women with such character & caring running this world, instead of the ones with dyed hair, botox & “important” paying jobs outside the home…

    • color_junkie says:

      Because the “important jobs” are running the country, not raising kids!

      • K.D. says:

        What you just said says that running corporate america is more important than raising families. If it’s not for a profit then it’s not an “important job”? Mothers raise children so they one day can grow up to be productive members of society but these same mothers who are celebrated during their pregnancy are almost always forgotten about after the baby is born in the postpartum time when it is needed the most.

  6. gloria says:

    I was fortunate enough to have women in my life who did these things for me. I’ve never forgotten the difference it made for me. I think we pass it on, one woman to another when we’ve received it.

    I attended a birth for a doula. She was having a Lotus Birth so the visitors were few in the first five days. On Day 4 when I did the p.p. visit, I stopped by the grocery store and bought an organic chicken and vegetables to roast with it. I put that in her oven on the timer, did my visit and left. She has told me that every birth she has attended since then, she makes the family “the chicken dinner” in their oven for them to munch on in the days after the birth.

  7. Jessica jessjgh1 says:

    This is excellent… I hope to find many ways to share it and practice it.

    I can’t tell you HOW important it was to both me and my son that I was able to spend some time at bedtime and wake up with him the first 2 nights after my daughter was born. My dd cooperated by taking a nap just at the right time, but if I ever have another baby I will be adding this to my things to put someone in charge of. I found my son really was pushing AWAY from me during the days– spending tons of time with g-parents (which was wonderful), and then when he needed me he really needed me.

  8. carolyn margaret says:

    Oh Glo, I love you!
    Just wondering if you could help me out with a little info about prenatal vitamins and if or when they are necessary?
    Thank you.
    I absolutely love this blog!
    Carolyn

  9. gloria says:

    oh my gosh, carolyn, do you have something to tell me? I’ll email you some info.

    We’re going to do this whole postpartum support regimen for Kirsten in January, can’t wait!

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  11. Liat says:

    Hey Gloria,
    This is a great list. I would like to translate it into Hebrew and post it in a forum I take part in. Can I have your permission to do that?

  12. gloria says:

    Yes, you can translate it into Hebrew and post but please send me a link because I love to have references to things in other languages. Have you seen this website:

    http://www.leida.co.il/page.asp?id=99197

  13. This is such a beautiful post, can I post it on my blog (of course crediting and linking to you)?

  14. Sarah says:

    This is perfect! Thanks so much for sharing. Would it be alright if I posted a link on my blog too?

  15. Great article! I, too, would love to post it on my blog and credit and link to you. May I please?
    Thanks!

  16. this list could not be more perfect. i am having post-birth flashbacks. i hope you don’t mind if I share too.

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  19. Such a great list for moms to have and doulas and cbes to share with their clients. I’ll have to share this link on my blog. Thank you!

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  24. Renata says:

    Hi Gloria,
    I read this when you posted it to Lactnet, but I forgot to comment.
    First, I LOVE your suggestions. Things like toilet paper, laundry and healthy foods and activities are often overlooked. My only difference (and I think it is more me) is that I actually prefer to have people to hang around and talk to, although unannounced visits may not work out. In fact, with our third child (and upcoming 4th) we have opened the invitation to share a meal with the family who brings it (as long as they want to and are in completely good health).

    Actually, I often wish people would start bringing meals the week before the due date. That would be really helpful so that I can focus on getting ready for the baby.

  25. Dani Arnold says:

    I’m printing that list off as we speak!!!

  26. Rowan Bailey says:

    Hi Gloria, As per your request on facebook I will list the extras I like to offer to my mamatotos…..

    ~water the plants
    ~help with pets (walk dogs, feed animals, scoop litter boxes, etc)
    ~bring along with meals high protein snacks (trail mix, nuts, bars) for mom to keep by the bed because when they wake up and baby needs to nurse mom is hungry too!

    Thanks for all your amazing work!
    Rowan Bailey
    Traditional Midwife

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  29. Anita says:

    I love that list I’m copying it immediately and putting it in my doula bag!

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  31. Monica says:

    I love this list, but something also to be remembered is how many people say “call me if you need anything!” but don’t mean it. I have had all the offers, but when I call someone and ask for the help, they stammer and stutter and come up with all the excuses as to why they can’t (won’t) help. I’ve given up on asking, because it’s just not worth it. People just don’t want to help anymore. Yes, I could hire a mother’s helper, or a postpartum doula, but I can’t afford it. Its a shame that people just aren’t willing to help.

  32. Anonymous says:

    After my 2nd’s homebirth, everyone left and my husband, baby and I took a nap. When we woke up, he asked what was for dinner and declared that he had been up all night and was NOT going to cook. I had to call up my mom and beg her to bring dinner. The next day, I was left alone with both kids for a couple of hours. Noone brought food except that first meal from my mom. Noone did chores for me except the first load of laundry that the midwives put on before they left. I had few visitors even though I kept asking people if they wanted to come over and meet the baby. I felt so alone and unsupported. I then had 8 weeks of hell when he had colic and had almost no support through that, except for my doula who saved my sanity by encouraging me that it WILL end. Never underestimate what your little bit of help might mean to her, it might be the only support she gets!

    • LuckyDoula says:

      I had a similar experience after the birth of my daughter. It’s very lonely and exhausting. It really does take a village, but as a society now we focus on the success of the individual, not the community. Our saving grace was our Doula, and it inspired me to become one as well, and I do those things for the moms that I wish someone had done for me.

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  34. Ramona Lisa says:

    GREAT list! The only thing I would change is the “leave right away” bit. I felt abandoned after my baby had been born. No one visited me in the hospital after my (very unnecessary) c-section in order to “let me rest.” People dropped off food and left out of “respect for my space.” I needed someone to process my birth experience with. I needed someone to keep me company. I felt soooooooo lonely and abandoned because of this “respect” everyone was trying to show me. I know everyone is different, but I would personally prefer for a friend to come to my house, cook the meal there, eat with me, and then clean up the dishes and and kitchen afterward.

    • Robin says:

      this happened to me too. Felt so terribly isolated after my 2nd birth which was an unnecessary section – felt like people were avoiding dealing with me & the fact that it had gone so horribly wrong. It made me doubly grateful mind you, for those that really did turn up and do the useful things (and stick around to visit!) – a friend came and did my vaccuming. I don’t know if I could have asked anybody else to do it, but she asked, and I was really grateful!

    • momofone says:

      I had few visitors after my son’s uncomplicated birth, yet I was hoping for everyone to leave soon as I NEVER got any rest. Someone came in the door every 10 minutes; nurses, docs, pedi, social security lady, breakfast, lunch, dinner delivery, few friends, few family members, nursing lady – and they all came staggered, I never had a break, even when I tried to close my eyes someone would come in to check on us, tell me something important, or just see if I was sleeping or not. It was exhausting for me to have non-stop people in the room. Finally at home, I got some quiet time from visitors, except family and friends who came from far away and stayed with us and seemed to have no clue that I was not really in the mood to cook for all of us or launder their sheets and clean the guest bathroom every time after someone left. Next time I will be honest to people inviting themselves to meet the baby and adding to my chores instead of helping. That is the worst!

  35. New Daddy says:

    I agree with Ramona here, while in many situations having your alone time with baby is great, there are also times just having people around to talk, support and help you out with little things like, running to the phone, or watching the baby while you brush your teeth/hair. I would say assess the situation, and leave quickly if everything seems to be calm. =)

  36. Kristen says:

    I’d love to post this on my blog too.. and hope that everyone that wonders “if” they should hire a Postpartum doula would read this..

    Thanks so much for sharing this amazing information..

    -Kristen

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  38. Red Pomegranate says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely. Though I did have quite a few meals brought to me after my daughter’s homebirth, the mess and chaos made me angry and frustrated with my husband. This time I’m certain to have friends who will help me weather those first few hectic weeks by helping with housework too!

  39. Laureen says:

    What I really need is the same list, but in “long distance friend” form. So many women have internet tribe… Right now, I have four friends either delivering or about to deliver, and they’re all at minimum a three hour plane ride away from me. What can we do for those women? What’s the virtual equivalent to taking out the trash and making soup?

    • Vallegirl says:

      seriously, get a few friends to chip in and hire a postpartum doula for your friend. you can check with DONA to find a postpartum doula in your friends area, also remember there are some birth doulas who will also provide this service. I have been hired by several people who live out of State but will give this service as a gift to their friends. Also remember you could find a nice restaurant in their area, and have a meal delivered.

      • Lesley says:

        My son and daughter-in-law live 1300 miles away. She is due on Christmas and asked that we not come because she is afraid that we would come and the baby wouldn’t:-) From what I read on DONA website, a postpartum doula doesn’t really do the things that are on the list – they spend their time educating the family on how to be a family. Am I misunderstanding? I really am looking for something we can do to help when the baby is born. Any suggestions?

  40. Mama V says:

    I’d add: “And could you wash the blood stains out of my bed sheets, please?” ;)

    • gloria says:

      Here’s a tip about blood stains on bed sheets:

      1. Stains come out if you get them out quickly—the longer they sit, the more permanent they become.
      2. Both hot and cold water set stains. If you want to remove stains use tepid water (not hot, not cold, somewhere in the middle) and get going on the stain removal right away.
      3. you have to remove clots and mucous-y gel or that stuff just goes round and round in the machine.
      4. Once you’ve run it through a cyle of tepid water and soap, take each piece of laundry out individually and eyeball it for persistent blood stains. Don’t put in dryer till they are out completely or you’ll bake the stain in permanently.
      Work on the leftover stain by hand until it’s gone.
      5. That Oxi-Clean stuff works well on blood stains. Peroxide poured on carpets and then mopped up with a clean, absorbent cloth takes out blood.
      Some people put a cup of salt in the tepid water to wash the linens. This can corrode your washing machine if done too often.
      6. My buddy Lisa takes a big Rubbermaid tub full of towels to each birth. When she gets home from the birth with the tub, she fills it with water and lets everything sit for a couple of days. Then she puts it through the laundry ready for the next birth. She’s got a house and I live in an apartment building so I haven’t taken on her method but if I’m in a house someday, will do the same thing.

  41. mamapoekie says:

    magnificent post! I’m sharing in next weeks sunday surf. It would be great if someone did even half of this after the next baby comes

  42. Viv says:

    Gloria,
    What a wonderful list! As a Maternal/Child health nurse in Melbourne, Australia, we see the women crumbling at home with little support and practical help, with a new babe and maybe 1,2 , or more other children to care for. Again, thanks for all your wonderful work with birthing women, families and those that support and work with them.

  43. Mel A says:

    Wow. This is just awesome! I had a little help after my last, but with 4 littlies I would have loved a LOT more.

  44. Lilly says:

    I loved it! I loved how it says, bring the dinners then “leave right away”. That’s the part most people don’t get. But geez, my husband NEVER quit taking the breaks he’s used to taking all day every day anyway, so I was snickering at the part that said “give my husband a break”. Are there really husbands out there who HELP?? I mean HELP to the point where they “need a break?” I found this quite laughable in my situation….but I felt happy for other moms that these type of men must exist or it wouldn’t be on the list!! This is indeed a very practical list. I always found that people would “help” by visiting and hanging around for hours and it exhausted me cause I felt like I had to entertain them to some degree, I wasn’t yet used to nursing in front of everyone and ultimately it just exhausted me and made me avoid people’s phone calls.

    • Davina says:

      Those husbands really do exist! After my emergency c-section for my second child my husband took primary carers leave from work and stayed home to take care of me and my son and leave me to heal and nurse our newborn daughter. For 8 weeks he brought me meals in bed, did housework, took our son out to play and changed our daughter when needed. It was amazing! My recovery was swift and complete. We also had the womens organization at our church bring us meals for a week. We had wonderful support. One lady just turned up and weeded our garden because that was what she liked to do and felt she could offer! The postpartum experience is so much more relaxed when the community pulls together for a new mother. I had less support with my third after moving to a new area but my husband again was a rock. A true partner.

    • Anne Lukes says:

      my hubby is a gem. he helps all he can, and then some. He does need someone to give him a break.

  45. Our grandmothers would feel ashamed that we need a list like this, but that is the modern world we live in. Great suggestions for friends after a birth, death, illness or other life-change – I can think of many times such help would have been so welcome.

    As a volunteer breastfeeding counsellor and also as manager of a breastfeeding centre in Melbourne, Australia, I see many new families at breaking point, with little support from family or friends – or worse, additional demands from family or friends :(

    Our Western culture did away with mothers “lying-in” or in “confinement” and our feminist sisters convinced us all that childbirth is not an illness and we should leap back into our independent lives. But more traditional cultures continue to nurture and protect a new mother/baby dyad for the first 40 days and would be horrified that she should cook, clean or do anything other than rest and get to know her baby.

    Why do we continue to get it all so wrong?

    • gloria says:

      Such a good point, Yvette. I’m 63 yrs old and I remember as a child that, when someone died, there was a group of women who would come and make sandwiches, pickles, baked items for the people who went to the funeral. Everyone would come back to the house and those women (who didn’t seem to be related to the grieving family) served the food, cleaned up and generally were in service.

      Nowadays, everyone has the food catered when there is a funeral and I think something is lost. I had a feeling when I was a child that there was “community” in addition to family and that, if the bottom really dropped out of your life, there were people who would catch you and hold you. That sandwich crew was just something that the women knew to do. I’m sure that every woman took a turn and put so much love and gratitude into serving someone else when the time came.

      As I’ve said before, I learned how to support people after a birth by being on the receiving end of the things on that list. We must keep sharing this knowledge.

      • babz says:

        here in the south that beautiful service to the mourning family usually still happens , their church family takes care of it , or the neighborhood women if the family arent churched. it doesnt happen as much as it should anymore, but i still always see if the person who has passed is very elderly.. still has all that old friend feel to it.

        • Amanda says:

          I would add, i live in a n orthodox jewish community, and it is expected that the community (based around synagogue or kids school or just network of friends) will provide the new mother and her family with meals for 2 weeks after the birth, and also after a death G-d forbid meals are brought round for the family for at least one week (more if they need it)

  46. Cathrine says:

    Thanks for this. Will share with all new moms-to-be and friends-with your url. It is sometimes hard to ask for help but it is so worth it and, to those who give help, it lifts the spirit to know that there are friends/family who love and care. My biggest frustration was with my mother-in-law who wants to come right after baby is born and “hold the baby while you get laundry done or whatever else you need to do.” So with this last baby, we did not invite her to come until baby was almost 2 months old and I was getting around better. I’m sorry, but, to all who think that it is helpful to me for you to offer to hold the baby while I do housework, it is not. Please just do the laundry for me, make dinner (instead of expecting me to) and then I’m happy to have you cuddle the little one, too! To all who brought meals, cleaned my kitchen, folded my laundry, took my older boy to the zoo and park, THANK YOU! I am so blessed to have you in my life!

    • Amy says:

      I get that, really I do. But I would NOT be comfortable with other people – even, perhaps *especially* the inlaws – doing my laundry. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night for the chills it would give me, imagining someone washing my blood-stained knickers. I’ve stayed with friends and they’ve just left their underwear on the bathroom floor, so either they have a bigger lingerie budget than I do or my dysfunction is unique. I would love to be that way, but I will NEVER forget finding my EX mother-in-law folding my knickers when my baby was a few months old.

  47. Nina says:

    I found this list via a Facebook recommendation and like it a lot.
    I wish I had that around when I had my baby in 2006. The help we got was quite theoretical and I found myself out in the rain with the dog while the “helper” watched my sleeping baby …
    Is there a German translation yet?
    If not, I would love to make one (I am a German non-fiction author, worked in how-to books for a long while) and link back to this site and to you, of course, citing the source.

    • gloria says:

      Please feel free to translate into other languages. I like that a lot.

    • Chelsea says:

      Oh my gosh, me too! Only it was a bunch of snow and the dog wasn’t even mine, it was my brother-in-law’s (not-housebroken) puppy that he dropped off at my house 2 days after the birth so he could leave town. People would show up at my house offering to babysit the new baby while I did chores and took care of my 2 year old and the puppy :|

      Oh and no one brought meals until 3 weeks after the baby was born?! Not sure what the reasoning was behind that one.

  48. lisa says:

    so sad that our communities have come to this, that we need to be provided with a list to show us how to support our friends, i already know to do this and i’ve never even had children … perhaps it comes from growing up in a church where everyone rallied around and made casseroles for familes who were in crisis … although i prefer to make salads (suggestion 3), everyone needs something crunchy and fresh, especially after a week of stodgy reheatables from the freezer :)

    • Jessica Crosmun says:

      I totally agree! Salads were something I specifically requested after my last baby, and I received a lot of lovely ones. That was something I SO appreciated! Another friend brought me a homemade trail mix of nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate-covered raisins. That was a God-send during those early ravenous nursing days :)

  49. Hello Gloria,

    To the point and straight forward. Love it! Can I place it on my website http://www.thefirst8days.com. Of course I will mention your blog.

    Gea Meijering
    The First 8 Days of Being a Mom

  50. Joy says:

    I work at a birth center and part of my responsibilities as the birth assistant is the clean up. I’ve cleaned up more blood stains from sheets than I care to mention. However, we spot treat them ASAP with full on peroxide before we place them in the wash with bleach. That seems to do the trick every time.

    Thank you for this insightful post. I’m pregnant with number two and plan on using this as my EDD approaches.

  51. Nancee McPherson says:

    Love this list! I’m a doula and would love to pass this on with your credits. It’s the perfect balance of funny and very practical.q

  52. Yes, yes, yes.

    And I had to laugh about the garbage can with a swing top thing because ours ALWAYS was broken when we first had a baby!

    Steph

  53. This is great Gloria, thank you for posting! My husband and I are starting to think about these things as we plan to get pregnant soon and we have no family in BC. If we don’t have friends that are willing to help us out we’ll definitely need to hire a postpartum doula.

  54. Susannah Duelfer says:

    Love that list. One thing I would add is – If you are a friend coming from out of town do not bring your husband and small children (I love you and do want you to see me and my new baby but all the “extra luggage” will be too much).

    With my first child my best friend brought her husband and small child – let me tell you the chaos was all consuming. With my second she left her family home and stayed at mutual friends while she was here. When she came over to see us she put me and the new baby to bed, sent my husband out with our older son, sent my in-laws back to their hotel for a nap and then proceeded to do dishes, clean my kitchen, take out garbage, wash and fold laundry, prepared dinner and when I got up she snuggled on the new baby while I got a long hot shower and gave me time to do my hair and put on a little make up (all things she wouldn’t have been able to do if she had to be chasing her own children down).

  55. This a great list. I have one along the same lines that I gave out in my Childbirth Classes. It was also one of my topics of discussion during class.
    S♥

  56. Stefanie says:

    I reposted this on my blog with a link to yours. I also added my expereince in a community and ideas for a meal and chore list. so needed!

  57. Kristi says:

    Can I place this post in my Facebook Group? My group is called Unconditional Parenting – Support Network. It aims to eradicate mom-on-mom bullying, discrimination, and be a supportive hug to any parent who needs one! :)

  58. Tracy says:

    What a nice list Gloria and I like your new logo.

  59. gloria says:

    I was visiting a woman with a 3 wk old baby last week and she told me that, every weekday a.m., at 10 a.m. either her sister, mom or mom in law, comes to the house, holds the baby while she has a nice long shower, then tucks the mammatoto in bed, cleans up kitchen, laundry, garbage, and starts a meal. What a nice thing to have! Just basic really but, I thought “this is an amazing 3-some of women who have worked this out”. Then she told me that she had sent my article out to everyone in her family before the birth. They were all so happy to have a list of exactly what to do and THEY DID IT! Wowza.

  60. Jeanene Elder-Hoback says:

    Hi there!

    What do you do if you have had a c-section, have no family in town (and the family you do have won’t come and help even though they have a few months off work), and even though you have some friends no one offers to help, and your husband is in the Navy and has to go underway for 3 Monday-Fridays in a row (but he’s home usually 1 weekend day, possibly 2 here and there when he doesn’t have duty)? Not to sound negative, but this is what I went through, and I made it, but it was hard. To put a positive note on it, I do have a wonderful, beautiful, healthy baby, it was really hard at first…

    • Missie says:

      operationdoula.com is free doula services for military families. I haven’t needed it, not a military mom, but I am sure you can find a postpartum doula to help you through that.

  61. Hannah says:

    this is great!!! i’m printing it off to distribute to friends and family if and when hubby and i have baby #2. heheh.

  62. Sara says:

    While I can see that helping someone is more important than giving money and many of your suggestions are certianly worthwhile, I think some are phrased with an entitlement that is uncalled for. If someone offers to help you, you respect them and THANK THEM and not ignore them while they are “dusting in their WORK CLOTHES and leaving quietly afterwards!” Give me a break. I loved helping my friend with this kind of stuff after her baby and her telling me what I can do to help (AFTER I ASK of course) helps me help her. BUT….she thanks me and talks to me while I am there(unless she is sleeping or I am dropping something off of course) and treats me with the same kind of respect that I give her. She will even “pay back” by dog sitting and picking up the bill for lunch on my birthday. Respect is a two-way street and the way you phrased some of these suggestions tears away the true nature of the message I think you were trying to bring home.

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  64. Jen says:

    Gimme gimme gimme!

  65. Laura says:

    I am a military wife who was living 19 hours away from any family when baby #5 came along. For the first week, things were okay, but my husband deployed at exactly one week, and I stood on the pier for 3 hours with my newborn and 4 other children, and then drove home and hemorrhaged. My midwife told me to either get to bed or she was sending me to the hospital, and then called in the cavalry…my neighbors and church friends. Those wonderful people pampered me for 6 weeks, in much the same ways you listed above. They brought meals. They cleaned my house. They took my older children to play at their homes or to the aquarium. After that birth I did not suffer from the postpartum depression like I did with the other births of my children, and I think having that help played a HUGE role in that.

    I will be passing your list along. Thank you for what you do!

  66. Amber S. says:

    Hmmm…I wonder where all these childless-by-choice trolls are coming from. LOL

    I do agree with previous posters (WAY previous, not the weird “fend-for-yourself” crowd) that not every new mom/family wants to be alone. I actually felt very alone/isolated, both in the hospital, and at home after my parents left. I lived for those visits where people would do nothing but talk to me and ask to hold the baby. It made me feel human, at least. Granted, this was my first born, so I didn’t have toddlers tearing up the house while I cared for the baby. That might make the difference when the newbie comes in March. I’ve already decided to make a list of simple chores that people can do if they come and ask if there’s something they could help with. That way they can pick and choose how they’d like to help, if they so desire.

  67. Diana J. says:

    Wow, I just wrote a blog post on this subject! I’m definitely going to link!

    http://birthingathome.blogspot.com/2010/09/blessing-new-mothers.html

    Thanks for this!
    Diana

  68. Missie says:

    hmm.. really? I am greatly disturbed by the lack of compassion I am seeing here.

    yes motherhood is a choice, no it is not a medical condition, yes it is hard on the body and in my experience, it is also difficult on the mind as in “my labor got me out of my conscious mind” that sometimes I wish I had a list like this to be able to hand people or post on my door, read onto my outgoing message for voicemail/answering machine because I couldn’t think about what was needed as far as household duties in those first days. Feeding the baby, making sure I wasn’t bleeding too much, these are my immediate concerns even days after birth.

    We have traded our community mindset, as pack animals that we are, because we have the ability to believe the “all you need is a doctor and a hospital” lies we have been hand fed for generations.

    My child will some day be a part of our community.. Why not help get that child all the love and attention that could make the difference what role that child will play later? And in the first days, weeks, that help may be letting mom get the rest she needs to prevent illness in herself, her baby, her body, or her mind.

    you could be the difference to a mom – enough that prevents postpartum mental conditions which, in extremes, could lead to the many stories we see in the news of mom’s harming or killing their young children. And yes, just because you did a load of laundry or put dinner in the oven one day. Then left mom to sleep and nurse her littles.

  69. Stephanie says:

    Another Hypnobabies instructor posted a link on facebook — just had a final class meeting last night and we suggest parents make a list so they have specific things to ask for when they get those vague “anything” offers. This is a great inspiration and I’d love to post it on my website, with the linkback of course.

    Thanks for being a great resource.

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  71. Tiffany says:

    I think those who are offended by this list need to go back and read the beginning of the post more carefully. This is a list of suggestions for people who *ask* what they can do to help. This is to help both the new family as well as the family or friends who don’t really know what help would truly be most beneficial to know how to proceed. This isn’t about being entitled, but about realizing that life is best lived out in community. While community isn’t always available in our society anymore, when it is we should understand how best to support one another. Furthermore, there are many who desire to be a part of a supportive community but don’t know where to begin and this list would be a great place to start.

    This list is for family and friends who see a new baby as more than a “choice” that the parents simply “need to figure out and deal with” but rather that it is a beautiful life, and a beautiful time and one they want to be a part of and be enriched by as well as enriching others.

    And to those that suggested that giving concrete “here this is what I need” answers to someone who asks how they can help isn’t appropriate because many people don’t mean it, that is utterly ridiculous. No one forced them to offer, no one will force them to follow up. If they say something like “how can I help” it would be beyond idiotic to be offend by an answer.

    To close- I am very confused by the influx of commenters who are saying things like “that is why I would never have a child” why on earth are you reading this blog? Surely you have better things to do with your time than troll a birth blog if you never want children.

  72. Lady G says:

    Gloria, you state that Abby’s comment states how new mothers are left fending for themselves. But women who already have a child are not “new mothers” and as you can see form the comments here, they feel they should get this treatment.

    Anyway, mummies, I hope you provide these services for your friends and family members when they have a newborn baby. Because if you only take and don’t give, that’s selfish, isn’t it?

  73. Robin says:

    what actually amazes me is that the “entitlement” gang here has utterly failed to see the humour behind the post. But perhaps you have to have been there, to get it. Nobody expects servants to materialize just because they had a baby. But I personally expect people who say “can I help” to mean it, or don’t say it. Lists like this aren’t for handing your friends – they’re a way of thinking the issues through in advance, so that when somebody says “can I help” you actually have a concrete response to give them. Stop trying so hard to misunderstand, y’all.

  74. Kim says:

    Gloria, thank you for this list. My dear friend just had triplets and I’ve been wondering how I can help her without being intrusive. I know she has family helping but I want her to know I really am willing to help with anything she may need. I’m going to send her a link to your post. Even if it’s three months from now, she’ll still need help.

    As for the entitlement argument, this list was written as ideas to give to people who offer help. If you don’t want to help, don’t offer. I for one am eager and excited to help. I love my friend and want her to be happy and comfortable. If that means I clean while she sleeps, so be it. Our lives ebb and flow and sometimes we need more than we can offer. I will help my friends and family when they’re in need (new baby, broken leg, surgery, no job, etc) and because I have a loving, supportive network of friends and family, I always have help when I need it. It’s not that I expect help. And neither does my friend. But this is what we do as people who love each other.

  75. Sarah says:

    I found this blog very interesting. As a single woman with no children, I am glad to learn how I might help my friends who are having children. I love babies and I want to help my friends, but never having gone through it, I would not have known to offer some of these things. Thanks for sharing this, Gloria. I don’t really know what to say to the “fend for yourself” crowd. Certainly, my friends aren’t entitled to anything, but because I love them and care about them and want the joy of being able to see their children grow and thrive, I want to help them in a way that actually is helpful and needed. I’m sorry that you don’t seem to feel this way about your fellow women friends.

  76. Sarah says:

    P.S. Regarding military spouses, I think anyone not willing to help the spouse of a serving military member should be ashamed. Our men and women in uniform make lots of sacrifices, and so do their families. Being far from “home” (the military often requires many and frequent moves, leaving the spouses far from friends and family when needs arise), while your spouse is deployed is hard no matter what the situation is: birth, new baby, broken leg, etc. As citizens of this country who enjoy the freedom these individuals ensure is maintained, we should be honored to help assist our military families and welcome them to our communities while their spouses are away.

    • Milicent says:

      We don’t have a draft in the United States. Military members are doing a job for a paycheck and very few, relatively, are in combat or in danger — if they think being deployed to a relatively safe job is a hardship, well, they should’ve selected a different occupation and/or put off marriage/children until after the obligation to service was met. Furthermore, there are many people who consider subsidized travel — complete with housing, commissary privileges and other perks — to be a blessing, not a curse. Those who dislike it are free to select a different line of work, particularly in America.

      As for those who claim they can’t support their families on military pay and benefits, it’s a ridiculous whine. We wouldn’t expect a McDonald’s fry flipper to support a family of four kids, or a car wash attendant, or a receptionist in an insurance agency — so why do these people think they can support huge families on entry-level (or barely above entry level) jobs? It’s surely not difficult to predict one’s career path and pay progression before one makes the choice to join the armed forces.

  77. T says:

    My mother and grandmother had exactly that kind of help when they had their children. As well, they provided that kind of help for their friends/family having children. My grandmother is very saddened by blogs like this. But, only because there are women out there who have to ask for it. It’s not that a new mother is entitled to it, either. The sense of community, family, and comrodery is mostly lost in western society. I see this blog post, and others like it, as a reminder that we should be better connected to the lives of the people we call “friends and family.”

  78. Tanya says:

    I love this list!! Only, it doesn’t strictly apply to women who’ve just given birth. I think it’s sad that some people don’t get it. Sad that they’ve never been helped when in need, therefore will not pay it forward.

    Whether it was an easy vaginal birth, home, hospital, csection…. or gall bladder surgery, or a hip replacement, or recovering from a stroke, or grieving a death… people who could use some help usually don’t ask. People who you claim to love as family and/or friends can use a helping hand every now and then. When they do, offer it and mean it. Whether you believe in the Golden Rule or karma or don’t believe in anything at all… it’s just the right thing to do. We can all DVR our fave show and take that hour to check on a friend, or cook/buy a meal they can have tomorrow. If you can’t afford to buy stuff, call and say you want to stop by to say hello – when you arrive look around and do whatever you can see needs doing. I’ve done it. I’ve had it done for me. Even if you don’t believe in the whole “it takes a village” thing. It’s just the compassionate thing to do.

  79. Robin says:

    “(And btw, don’t newborns sleep a lot? Why can’t the parents be seeing to the housework et al during that time? ”

    sorry. but you’re totally revealing your utter, utter ignorance, here. I actually laughed right out loud.

  80. gloria says:

    Okay, folks! I’ve let a lot of these comments go because, hey, everyone has an opinion. But, as someone said above, the TROLLS have invaded my space. I’m stopping all the anonymous comments from the “I don’t want to have kids website”. You’re all starting to sound the same and if I read “entitlement” one more time, I’ll gag. No more, you’ve said your piece, I get it.

    • JJ says:

      Thank you!

      I know this was an old argument, but I just stumbled upon this and was reading the comments for extra ideas. It was starting to get pretty saddened by it all!

      My problem is that when I was pregnant last time, people would ask how they could help and then just show up at our house and expect me to entertain them until LATE into the evening. (If THAT isn’t ‘entitlement’, I don’t know what is…) I’ve been trying to think of a kind way of putting them to work (and hopefully getting them to move on out) by asking for specific chores to be done when they show. I simply can’t go through that again this time around. I have already gotten most of these things planned for since I know what to expect, but this list is helpful. :)

  81. Christy says:

    Well, I have to say I kind of agree with both sides here, to a degree.

    I think that ANYBODY is deserving of help when they are overwhelmed by ANY major life change, (especially beyond their control, like an illness or death), most of all when someone has lost a child or spouse and is too devastated to even function. Those people I really WOULD drop most everything to help in any way I could. While I’m almost certain some of the list was written partly in jest,( as it would be a little obnoxious to demand people cook/clean & then leave immediately, as they are giving up their time for you) I do think it’s a good idea to have a FEW things written down just to remind yourself of what to suggest, should anyone ask. I’m sure anyone asking to be of help would be overwhelmed & a little taken a back at a list this long & specific though. I’d be darn grateful for any small thing anyone wanted to do, and honestly I’d feel foolish & like I was taking advantage of someone’s kindness if I presented this to them.

    That’s why I’m sure it’s not totally serious; I think most moms could think of a more simplistic list along the lines of “might need help catching up on laundry & dishes”, “we’d love a casserole from somebody who has the time”, etc., and I’d truly appreciate the help, not expect it.
    That being said, I DO understand people needing help & sometimes feeling weird asking for it. Anyone who offered should get a “Oh gosh, thanks so much, I know you’re busy too (families, jobs) & I appreciate it a lot”… So YES, by all means ask for reasonable help if you need it, and don’t be afraid to suggest things when someone asks; just be sure it is within reason & appreciated/reciprocated – otherwise it might not be offered again.

  82. Christy says:

    And oops, I did forget to add one other thing in regards to how things are not the same as they were a long time ago. Especially the earlier post about how nowadays when there is a death, the food is catered, etc,… I think a lot of this is due to the fact that most women in the 40′s 50′s, and even 60′s, didn’t have demanding jobs & careers, they were home and had more time to do all this cooking/baking/caretaking for others. I know when my uncle died last year, they catered his wake, with the exception of a few special dishes made by retired church women. Nowadays most women are working full time jobs often with a family, with little time off, and are too exhausted by day’s end to do a lot of the more traditional stuff. Likewise with the scenario where women would group together and take care of the new mother, I do remember my grandmother telling me her friends did this for her when she had her kids..however they were all housewives & had the time. Anyway, I guess the issue is the thought counts; whatever people can do to help others in need, if they are able, is valuable to me.

  83. This list made me cry. We were kind of left alone after the birth of our first child (though the friend who showed up with a meal, left after a short visit, and returned another day to babysit is someone I will ALWAYS be grateful to), but after the birth of our second, many friends showed up with meals, which helped a lot as I frankly got my *ss kicked the first few months (well, still am, thanks to PPD).

    As for all the haters/”entitlement” commenters? Wow. You guys suck. Sure, we chose to procreate. I don’t feel entitled to help, but I certainly feel buoyed by the support of friends/community. And I help out other moms when I can. I know this level of hate/disrespect/disregard exists, but I always forget that it does (maybe because it is so ugly). Ugh. Thanks for the reminder.

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  86. Claire Hoyle says:

    Hi, this is great, i just wish i’d had it to hand to my family especially after my second, ! ha
    a great read, :0)

  87. Deanna says:

    I think this is a fantastic list of suggestions!! I copied your link to my facebook in hopes the right people would see it. We took weeks and months ahead of time to prepare meals for us two to eat after new baby came home but were always so grateful when a friend brought over a meal. There is nothing worse tho than the relative who is so anxious to see the baby and then won’t leave and the wants you to make supper. I’m still resentful of that…not gonna happen this time!

  88. Sildah says:

    Yes, newborns do sleep a lot–in 1 hour increments around the clock. When you deal with that kind of chronic sleep deprivation for weeks on end immediately following essentially running a marathon equivalent (ok, mine was only 37 hours of labor, which, in case you haven’t done it, is called labor for a reason) plus the lovely post-partum hormonal crash (think PMS x 400), the only thing that you can think to do sometimes is 1. sleep or 2. cry.
    Research is great, but it is no substitute for the experience.
    Kudos to you if you were the superwoman that we all no doubt dream of being who needs nothing from anyone regardless of the sphere of strain. Maybe you can use some of that willpower and energy to offer help to those less capable.

  89. Sildah says:

    Fun list and great to be aware of other options for those who want to help but may not be as handy in the kitchen. I received help with meals from my family and church community after my daughter was born and then contributed to the many other families who had children this summer as well. In fact, we had several containers that were passed around through multiple households. Sure, I had days that I felt up to doing chores and cooking. But for those days that I didn’t, that was one less thing to worry about.
    I did often like people to stop and talk for a few minutes rather than just knock and run. When I was dropping off meals myself, I learned to ask whether the mom would like to chat for a bit or not. Sometimes a friendly face and a sympathetic ear for a reasonable amount of time can really boost the spirits.

  90. Smitha says:

    awesome post!! I wish I came across this 6 months ago… but think it’s still helpful!!

  91. Christy says:

    I’d be happy to come on over and help stuff those planned parenthood envelopes. Just because I like babies doesn’t mean that I think everyone should have one.

    I’ll be over right after I drop off this dinner…

  92. Stephanie says:

    Well-said, Gloria. I just published a link to this post in yesterday’s Tuesday Tours column on my blog (and I also shared it with my friends on Facebook).

    Numbers 1 and 3 are my favorites. I also like #8, especially the bit about feeding healthy foods to the older siblings.

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  94. Jamie says:

    Boy I sure hope that you don’t plan to use any of the income tax funded stuff my kids will be paying for. and if you get disabled you should get out only what you yourself have paid into our system. They might not be working on a literal farm. but society still needs a younger generation to help support the last one.

  95. Kaylee says:

    I disagree with “leave immediately” as I really enjoyed the visits from friends and family. Everyone was gracious enough to call beforehand and not overstay, though.

    I wish I could edit the suggestion for cleaning out the refrigerator. At the very least, ask permission before starting on such a potentially intrusive project. I would cry if a well-meaning friend used her best judgement without asking, and threw away my favorite aged cheese and my precious frozen New Mexico green chiles, both of which could easily look like trash to those unfamiliar with them.

    • gloria says:

      Maybe I just know too many people with “science projects” growing in the back of their refrigerators—-it’s pretty clear what should get tossed in the mouldy leftovers and vegetable drawer departments. :)

  96. Jenna says:

    Wow! Interesting list. Funny how some of this is just logical or respectful (much like how I clean my grandmother’s kitchen when she’s done cooking Thanksgiving dinner) or loving. It makes sense.

    I would change the “leave immediately” to “check and see if mom needs you to go on and go so she can rest, or if she’d prefer you to stay and chat.”

    I haven’t had any children yet, and some of my friends are just starting. It’s nice to know a general idea of what to ask, or what to offer to do, having not given birth yet myself. I’ve been a carpet my whole life, as the result of abuse. I’ve fought back and filled my world with *good* people and friends, people who love me and know that I will help them even as they help me. People who love and trust and support each other. I’ll rewrite this list for me, in my voice, so that my husband can refer people to it in the first weeks if they ask – I know they’ll ask him what they can do, and not me, probably because they won’t want to interrupt my rest. They’re sweet people like that.

    To the person who said that having a baby is a luxury… O_o What? We are designed by evolution to procreate, and yes, we have some level of choices, but it certainly is NOT a luxury. It may be expensive, but that’s another topic. I personally only want to have one, maybe two children. No more. I can see your argument where you don’t think women should be having 9 or 10 kids in the western world, but that’s still their business and not yours. And to assume that kids are not necessary because there is no farm to tend, I ask this: If I had a farm, does that make it OK to breed a lot, just so I have essentially slave labor? That’s the absolute worst reason to have a kid I’ve ever heard! And I still can’t fathom how you can compare a small human with a Prada bag… Luxury? Try taking care of one. I was 15 when my sister was born. I have nephews and nieces. I’m the 3rd oldest grandchild, and most of my cousins are much younger. I’ve helped with kids. Have you?

    I hope to one day have a son. I want to teach him to be a good person and be kind to others. I want to teach him to be a good man, and maybe one day be a good father, not an absent or abusive one. Why is that a bad thing to bring to this world?

    I have a dear friend who will not be having children. I respect her decision and her reasons. I also respect that she respects my decision to be a mother someday. She doesn’t spew hate. We care about each other very much, and wouldn’t hurt each other like that.

    As for those who have spewed so much hate on here – I am glad you will not have children. I respect your choice, and I am thankful you made it. I won’t have to try to explain how to deal with this level of nastiness, nor will I have to help clean up the emotional mess your children would leave behind with mine. I won’t have to help another abuse survivor through, because that person won’t exist to help.

    You have made your choice not to procreate. I do have to ask, though, why have you made the choice to be filled with so much anger? You can only control one thing in this life – you. Why do you choose to hate? That is a very important question, and I don’t ask it lightly.

  97. Jill says:

    This is invaluable! I love that it has things people wouldn’t necessarily think of, or if they do think of it, don’t/won’t say anything about it!

    I’d love to use the link on my webpage (which is under construction).

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  100. china says:

    hello! We would like to have this as a submission for our book: http://dontleaveyourfriendsbehind.blogspot.com/

    the call for submissions is at the top and if you go down you can see that we gather up lists like this. Also you can download our zines for free.

    It would be awesome to update and incorporate some of the suggestions into the list. I don’t see your contact information anywhere. Can we chat?

    BEST WISHES,
    china martens

  101. Amber says:

    Love it! Also, please do not bring new moms plants as a gift, the last thing they need is another living thing to look after! :)

    • Cynical says:

      Hahaha I actually agree on this. I always wondered why “new life” means “lets bring more things for Mom to care for”

  102. Lily's Mama says:

    Wow! So great to have this link shared with me! When I was due to give birth to my daughter, my mother planned to come and stay for a week after the birth (unfortunately that’s all she could take off work). But she wanted to know what I needed, and I requested FOOD! She spent the entire week preparing meals and freezing portions that were easily tossed into the oven. What a saviour she was. She prepared enough food to last me almost 2 months. Lucky me! I now know what to do to help my expecting sisters…

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  104. tess healy says:

    I loved the list and then intended to post a comment saying that I thought this applied to so many situations – grieving, recuperating from a serious illness BUT then I started reading the comments and was astonished at the vitroil and condescension in some posts. My youngest daughter has a delightful and supportive partner. They planned and stock piled and worked hard. She had a drug free natural birth. After wards, there were difficulties with breast feeding and she was feeding every three hours for two hours and baby was still not gaining weight. I don’t care how well organized you are – lack of sleep will make you mental. It is what they used to break the toughest soldiers in POW camps. How DARE women judge and call down other women down simply because things did not plan out the way you intended. God forbid any of these so well organized women have to cope with the unexpected. See how far plans take you then. Thank you for the list, Gloria. I believe it helps mothers articulate what they need in a society where too many people think like the nastiness in some of the posters here. No wonder mothers don’t ask for help. To all mothers, you will ahve days that are not idylicc, where the best laid plans fall apart after you change the sheets on the bed of a puking youngster for the third time in two hours and your pain at not being able to comfort and console strangles your heart. Remember, the days pass really slow and the years will speed by… And I think the list is a harkening back to a time women did so well together. This is a time in the past because we had aunts and cousins and mothers and life long neighbours doing exactly the things Gloria lays out. We have lost that notion of community, that it takes all of us to raise our children.

  105. Paula says:

    If you take away someone’s ability to serve, you are denying them blessings. There is nothing wrong with explaining exactly what you need help with when you truly need help and it is lovingly offered. No amount of preparation can make it so that you have 15 minutes to take a shower, and laundry won’t fold itself. We all want to be independent, but new parents do need/deserve a little help after the birth of a new baby. Sometimes there are unforeseen circumstances that prevent this preparation, as well, like babies that come prematurely. Thank you, Gloria for serving us so much. May God bless you in all your efforts to effectively serve mothers, babies, and families.

    • Melissa Cline says:

      What a lovely comment. I agree that it is a blessing to be able to help. I have found that becoming a mother and REALLY understanding how those little things are appreciated makes it even better.

  106. Christine M says:

    I’m sorry that you didn’t have the experience of a community coming together in your time of need and that you and your family was left to fend for itself during such a blessed event. What you refer to is not “old school” it is modern self-sufficiency. Old School is where the community joined together during life changes (ie: weddings, moving to a new home, having a baby, death) and helped out the family. They stepped up when another family needed it and were blessed when it was their family that needed it. I, too, am Old School, the Community Version of Old School. I never think twice when a new neighbor moves in…I take them a dessert and offer to watch their children while they settle in. When the ladies from church call because they are arranging meals for a new mom/family for a few weeks, I’m honored to sign up for a couple days. I know that these same families that I am helping will also be there when I need it…..like the time when my 9 month old little boy died and the community joined together to take care of EVERYTHING because it was all we could do to make funeral arrangements and wake up the next morning. I’m thankful that at times like this I wasn’t left to fend for myself because “too bad, that’s a risk you take when you decide to have children!” Sorry for the rambling, but the core of today’s issues is that people are so selfish that they refuse to think beyond the end of their own nose. How sad that this is what becoming an “advanced nation” means. :-(

  107. I love that you added “and leave right away” at the end of each item… should be an unspoken truth, but someone has to be the one to BOOT the company!

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  111. Céline says:

    OMG, this is just what I felt!!

    Was so strange that during pregancy, no one cared about helping me except my husband and my super-mom, and then after baby was born, some people who should have been close even during pregnancy suddenly cared, secretly wishing to come & help WITH THE BABY(he just needed his mum’s milk & some rest after he had to stay in hospital for a month beacuse he arrived 1 1/2 month before due date!). I just wanted to sleep, discover my baby and indeed needed help with housecleaning & preparing food, but in an inconditional way, I mean not having someone “to help you” but feeling that this person waits for you to invite her for dinner to thank her…

    Some people will understand the sentence “please drop this or that and please leave right away”, others won’t , saying you’re not nice, they helped you and no rewards whatsoever…

    So I left these people and asked helped from those who could understand, but they were not many I’m afraid, unfortunately…:-(

  112. cj says:

    “gloria says:
    November 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm
    Such a good point, Yvette. I’m 63 yrs old and I remember as a child that, when someone died, there was a group of women who would come and make sandwiches, pickles, baked items for the people who went to the funeral. Everyone would come back to the house and those women (who didn’t seem to be related to the grieving family) served the food, cleaned up and generally were in service.

    Nowadays, everyone has the food catered when there is a funeral and I think something is lost. I had a feeling when I was a child that there was “community” in addition to family and that, if the bottom really dropped out of your life, there were people who would catch you and hold you. That sandwich crew was just something that the women knew to do. I’m sure that every woman took a turn and put so much love and gratitude into serving someone else when the time came.

    As I’ve said before, I learned how to support people after a birth by being on the receiving end of the things on that list. We must keep sharing this knowledge.”

    A lot more people used to be involved in churches and community centres. In many cases, the churches WERE the community centre.
    As urban sprawl has developed, and community centres have become so government dependent, and Churches have slowly shrunk in size, so have many of these groups of women that used to provide these simple, but standard services.

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  114. Rebekah says:

    Love this! Have shared on my blog and linked back to you! :) Beautiful list and so true! Had a tear in my eye thinking of those who did such things for us when our daughter was born 1 year ago!

  115. Rebekah says:

    PS. I will be sharing my amazing water birth on my blog this week to celebrate my daughter’s 1st birthday.

    PPS. @ CJ – I have coordinated meals for women in my church and friends and believe it is a little bit of a lost art. Let’s bring it back! :)

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  121. Bronwyn Drysdale says:

    Love it, love it, love it. I have just had baby #2, and this list is sooooo true. I am very lucky to have a father-in-law with the best partner who gets this and more importantly does this which has been an absolute godsend that I can not thank them enough for. This did not happen with my first baby and the people that came to visit, stay, expect to be waited on hand and foot caused us so much tiredness and stress with an already unsettled baby with feeding problems (and they have not been invited back this time!). X

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  123. Sunshine Moss says:

    Until I had a child of my own, I honestly had NO IDEA that this was what new mothers wanted and needed. I was blessed that some of my friends and family did, and they were able to support me as a new mother. Now I know! But, I wish that everyone else did too!

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  125. Christine says:

    Gosh, this makes me want to cry. With my first son, I ended up having to have a c-section. He was a week late, the doctors knew he was “big” and my hips were severely fractured in the army. He ended up being 9 and a half pounds. No one offered help, kindness or anything. Well, one person did, she came by offered “help”, sat on my couch and idly chatted, asked to borrow money, used the bathroom and then left. She stole my pain medication…I’m glad I didn’t take her offer for help, who knows what else she would have done. My husband started back at work the day after I had my first son. He took the weekend off, and then was right back at it. I was alone, all the time for a while.
    With my 2nd pregnancy and son, my in-laws came to watch DS1 during the c-section. I ended up having no choice to leave the hospital for home early as they weren’t caring for him properly at all. My first “real food” meal at the hospital was a dinner, when DS1 arrived he ate my entire meal. Green beans, jello and all. After which we found out that they fed him “two big bowls of cereal for breakfast” and nothing else but they were “on their way to dinner”. My child is an eater of 3 meals a day plus a snack.
    Anyway, as soon as my husband was back to work they left that day, leaving my home a disaster with a really upset toddler. He was so upset he ran into the front door, literally, and busted his lip. I wanted so badly to call out to them (they were still getting in their truck) to come back and help at least until dinnertime…but I bit my tongue, carried my 3 year old to the kitchen and doctored him up. After that I set him up with some toys, a show and had myself a cry until everyone was ready for nap time.

    Now, I’m pregnant with #3, due in April. I’m already preparing lists of things to store in the freezer, and everything I can do to prep ahead of time. We are in a different location now, but I really can’t “wing it” or trust people to care about me or my children in any sense this time!

  126. Christine says:

    Oh, on my list of things to prepare for this birth I have: Make Breastfeeding “survival” basket (though I have it noted that a bag might be more sensible), in it would be toys and books for my older children, snacks, and other similar items for their regular needs(and mine) if they should come up and things to keep them otherwise content until I am able to get up and take care of what it is…
    Even helping a mom, new or not, put one together when you visit would probably be a wonderful, helpful tool. It could enable her to be more efficient and less frazzled when her LO comes up bored or wanting a snack, while she is occupied with feeding her NB. Or it could just help her on her own if she really needs a drink of water or snack, to have a little bag with a bottle of water, snack baggies and things for “entertainment”.
    Just a thought. Sometimes the time you need help most is when no one is around at all!

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  131. The Ranter says:

    This has given me an idea to go to the priest at my church and ask if we can start a group that will help do these kinds of things for families at our church. Thanks for the ideas!

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  133. Nicole says:

    Just shared this with two of my pregnant friends!

  134. Anon. says:

    How does everyone feel about adoptive moms requesting friends and family with this list too? I know we (adoptive moms) didn’t go through the actual physical birth, however, we still want to bond with our new baby. I feel guilty asking for help since I am not in physical discomfort. Should I feel guilty asking for help? Please share your thoughts. Thanks!

  135. Virginia says:

    I love this list! :-) But I am an adoptive mom…. :-( I sincerely want to know what people think about us. My heart aches that I cannot bear our own children due to health issues. (These are private issues I would prefer not to share at this point).

    But my question for everyone is simply this: is it okay for adoptive mom’s to ask for this kind of help after their child’s birth too? I just want honest feedback. Thanks!

    • Jaimee says:

      OF COURSE its okay to ask for help – regardless of the need. a true friend need not judge the worth of your request.

      Taking care a new human is a lot of work- regardless of whether or not they came out- of your body.

      Meals- house help… A new momma – a new baby- NEED LOADS of un-interupted time together. gazing, smelling…. makin’ out! that doenst leave much room for chores and cooking does it?

      <3 to you!

  136. Virginia says:

    P.S. We did have one biological child several years ago that died after only 10 days of life due to prematurity. So yes, I do know what it’s like to be pregnant and deliver a baby…. but not the way I would have wanted the delivery to be…. because I was on strict bedrest due to health reasons…. I had to be in the hospital. I was only 23 weeks along. :-( So please know that I do appreciate pregnancy and value homebirths.

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  145. Hi Gloria,

    I absolutely love this piece! I’m wondering if i might have your permission to print and use it with my birthing and postpartum families? I think it is invaluable! Thank you.

  146. When i saw a link to this piece i was intrigued. When i read the piece i was thrilled that the needs of the postpartum family could be articulated so effectively! I’m wondering if i might have your permission to print and share this with the families that i do birthing and postpartum work for? Thank you so much for your insights.

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  149. Mama to Many says:

    Well, I must say that although this seems like a good list, people cannot expect others to do for them, when they have not done for others. I have cooked and cleaned and brought fresh food to people’s houses after they gave birth. But, when my children were born…….very, very little was done for me or my family. Now, I did not *expect* anything in return. There are those who are caring and those who are not.

  150. Esther Moser says:

    Hi Gloria,
    can I share this post on my Red Tent FB page? Thank you for the wonderful article!

    Blessings and Smiles,

    Esther

  151. mary says:

    I just found this post and would love to share it on my page and recommend it to my doula and prenatal yoga students. May I have your permission to share it, providing the link to your blog?

  152. shanaofs says:

    After the birth of my fourth child, an older woman at our parish kindly offered to hire a bonded cleaning service to come once a month and super-clean my house. I’ve never forgotten how wonderful it was to have a clean house while chasing toddlers and attending to a newborn.

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  157. Julie-Anne M says:

    This is so apt! I lived in the Netherlands where, to my surprise and subsequent delight, mamas print a postcard to send round announcing time, date, sex and etceteras. Include on *every* card: Mama and babe rest between 1.30 and 2.30. Please call to let us know when you’d like to visit. Brilliant! Personally, I offered the new mamas a very sunny golden homemade soup; it made them smile…

  158. chaunice says:

    I too am years late, however I wish to thank you Kim for that response. It makes my heart sad that there are people who are that selfish, cruel, and lonely. Motherhood is not always a choice, especially when abortion or adoption isn’t, and it most certainly is an adjustment, especially when you’ve never done it before. Gloria I find this list invaluable and I will use it well when my first child is born this August. No man, or woman is an island. We all need each other.

  159. nancy says:

    I loved the list but please remember that many mom’s are breastfeeding and salads and spicy foods or foods that are gassy type foods are a nursing mom’s nightmare. Bring mom’s that are breastfeeding good but bland foods, she will appreciate it.

    • Gwenny says:

      Breastfeeding does not require that the mother eats bland foods. I ate spicy Mexican and yummy green salads are through my two nursing relationships with absolutely no problem!

  160. All I can say is AMEN! This is fantastic advice – I wish people were brave enough to just say what they need. In my little circle, we do make meals for each other, which helps out a ton. I would much rather have made someone a meal, or one for me…than get another cute baby outfit. Meals are enormously helpful.

  161. Gwenny says:

    I love this list! I’ve made meals for grieving families, for sick families, and for new families, and even families with mamas in school or otherwise tested and challenged. I do it because I want my community to be full of healthy and happy families! Anyway, I was wondering if Gloria would pretty please add a nice picture to illustrate the suggestions. I would love to pin this on my pinterest birth board!

  162. Helen says:

    The best visit I had when my first was tiny was just after my husband went back to work. A couple came round (leaving their 9-month-old sleeping in the car because she had a cold). They brought biscuits. They made tea. They fed me tea and biscuits and asked to hear the birth story (she’s a doctor which probably helped with that bit). They washed up the tea. Then they went away again (leaving half a tin of biscuits).

  163. eva jeric says:

    Your ideas of what to do and how to behave are great, verry helpful for me vhile visiting my friends with newborns. Tnx Gloria

  164. gloria says:

    Thanks for sharing, Abby, you beautifully state the attitude that keeps new mothers fending for themselves.

  165. Milicent says:

    I totally agree! Everyone is tired, everyone has hardships and many people don’t get to choose which ones they deal with. The entitlement in the OP simply boggles the mind. Parents have eight or nine months to prepare, stockpile food, buy garbage cans and underwear, develop a workable laundry scheme. It’s beyond the pale to expect your friends, family and neighbours to pick up the slack after a perfectly ordinary and utterly OPTIONAL event like childbirth.

    If it’s all too much to cope with, opt out. There’s abstinence, multi-method birth control, Plan B, termination and adoption — by my count that is five valid options the mother had before choosing to give birth. Bed, made, don’t expect anyone else to do your cleaning and shopping, dearie.

  166. Melissa says:

    You have got to be joking Gloria. No_one forced these women into parenthood. It’s hard. Absolutely. But no-one else is responsible for putting them in this position.

    Christ. Do i get to demand that my friends and family come over to help me because im dedicated to fitness and my muscles get sore? Weightlifting is HARD, so that makes it YOUR problem!

    Sheesh.

  167. Mel says:

    Why shouldn’t they? Motherhood is a choice, not a requirement. It is also not a privileged state demanding “beautiful” food and a virtual household slave.

  168. Kim says:

    Yes, let’s ALL opt out, and we’ll just let the human race peter out. I mean, these breeders, they’re just selfish, all they care about is themselves!

    OR, we could recognise that we live in a SOCIETY, and realise that helping others promotes a happy healthy, and functional society. We are not just a mass of individuals all living near each other totally independently – we rely on others in our society for many things, and help with raising children is one of them.

    I am absolutely disgusted to hear this selfish greedy attitude of ‘it’s not mine, why should I be expected to help’ coming from so many people. YOU are very much a symptom of what is going wrong with the world these days.

    I apologise for not being able to express this any better, but I’m way to angry for that. And before anyone comes in with a comment about my motherhood status, no, I’m not a mother, and I’m not pregnant. I just believe in helping others when they need it.

  169. Nailah says:

    I know I am years late to this conversation, but thank you so much for your response to these people. Saved me the effort of trying to be tactful.

  170. Amen – and thanks you. As a mother of many, I have been made lots of meals. But, I have also made and make on a regular basis:
    Meals for people with sick or injured family members
    Meals for funerals
    Meals for busy people or people with some crisis
    I have sat down at a friends house while she did activities with my kids and folded her laundry. She has foster children – not her kids, but ya know, helping out society.
    Geeze people – give a little – you’ll get a lot.

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