Saturday, October 2, 2010
Lie to me..... how to care for a new mom.
The following blog is a how to guide on how to care for a new mommy. Understand a few things about a new mommy and her fragile ego. So many things are going on in her head in regard to how she views herself. Part of her is feeling thinner than she has in months! On the flip side, her old clothes still aren't quite fitting. Her skin is finally clearing up from acne, red spots, and a variety of other afflictions. She is getting less and less sleep which leaves her a little more emotional as well. Not to mention that her hormones are trying to get back to their normal state. She is also so in love with her new baby! And this is an extreme love on an emotional level you may not understand if you don't have children. This may leave her more focused on her baby than herself most days. All these things leave our new mommy unsure of how she looks and feels about herself. And please understand that by the time she is seeing you she has had to struggle all morning just to get a shower in, make up on, and find clothes that fit and don't have spit up or breast milk on them. Sure, she may not be the super model she was before she got pregnant. But she is beautiful now for many other reasons.
So what can YOU do for her you ask? It's really quite simple. Just tell her she looks great. Tell her you can't believe she just had a baby. Tell her you are amazed by how how she is juggling it all. I don't care if you really even mean it. This is what EVERY new mommy needs and deserves to hear. This simple act of kindness will be like a shot of energy and encouragement for any new mom! And it's so easy for you to do! I had my third baby just 3 weeks ago and the other day while visiting my old office, someone told me that I didn't even look like I'd had a baby! I hugged her. It was just what I needed to hear! Look, I'm well aware that 3 weeks after baby my body still has a ways to go. But that didn't matter at that moment. Someone else thought I looked good! I don't even care if she meant it. Lie to me. Just keep the compliments comin'!
And if you are a husband or partner of a new mommy, listen to me carefully..... you need to do this daily- starting directly after birth! Mommy needs to hear how great she looks TO YOU. She needs to know that you still find her attractive and that you respect the work she just did to give you this beautiful child. Now that her special place has been stretched and ripped in unnatural ways and her breasts are now milk machines (which she fears may never return to their former glory), it is super important that you calm her fears that she isn't your sexy wife anymore. After experiencing these things, some new mommies start viewing their bodies as functional. You need to assure her that you still see her and her body as attractive. This will not only keep her spirits up but it will nurture your relationship so that when you are able to be intimate again, she won't feel as self conscious. Again, she may not be the sexy vixen she was before baby right away. But she'll never get there without your encouragement and support. A dash of sugar is far more effective than a pile of salt any day. So sprinkle her with sugar daily and watch her spirits sweeten! My husband has been a shining example of how effective this method is. He tells me how great I look before we even leave the hospital and keeps it going every day. This encourages me to make sure that I am showering each day and looking good for myself and for him. I am so grateful to know that he still finds me attractive even though my body isn't the toned 22 yr old body he met 12 years and 2 babies ago!
This next piece of advice will require an open ear. But let me tell you the joy it will bring! There is no story more amazing to any mom than the story of the delivery of her child! This is the day she met the love of her life. This is the day she became a warrior. This is the day she put a person on the planet! It may not seem like these things to you, but to every new mom this is the most important, scary, amazing, painful, joyous, challenging, happy, and miraculous day of her life. Hands down! So it only takes a few words. Repeat after me- "How was your labor?". And then listen. Whether the labor was amazing or scary, let her talk about it. In her mind, nothing you've done recently can compare to this miracle day. So let her tell you about it. Listen to her and tell her how amazing she is for making it through.
Finally, tell her how beautiful her child is. If you don't believe it- lie. Or use a word like amazing or fabulous. This baby doesn't have to be the cutest thing you have ever seen. But you need to understand that to this mommy, she has never seen anything so perfect and beautiful in her life. After I had my first baby I remember saying to my mother "You'd tell me if he was ugly right? Because if he is I can't see it!". That baby could have come out with a foot on his head and I would have thought it was the cutest foot I had ever seen! This is honestly how mommies see their babies! Pure perfection! So validate that and let her know that she has done good work.
If you have never had a child you may not fully understand what I am asking you to do and why it's so important. If you have had a child then you totally get it. And while I am telling you to "lie to me" really what I am saying is to recognize the work I have done, the work I do daily as a new mom, and that while it may not seem like it, I am more beautiful now than I was before- just in a different way. And I need to hear it. All moms need to hear it. So take care of the new mommy in your life. She'll thank you for it!