10 Ways to Help a New Mother

By Krista Gray, IBCLC. Last updated October 13, 2013.

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Having a baby is an exciting time for a new mother and father, but it can also be exhausting in the beginning.  As a new mom is bonding with her baby and learning to breastfeed, extra help from friends and family with basic household chores can be a tremendous blessing.  These early days are important for mothers and babies to spend lots of time together bonding, establishing a mother’s milk supply, and ensuring baby is feeding and growing well.  Therefore, the most beneficial ways others can help a new family is to allow mom and baby plenty of time together.

Here are 10 practical ways to help a new mother:

  1. Bring a meal
    Whether it’s hot and delivered at mealtime or one you made in advance for her to heat when needed, food is always a huge help.  In fact, try to bring a complete meal – main dish, vegetable, salad, etc. so she doesn’t have to worry about any part of cooking that evening.
  2. Short (and planned) visit
    Whether you are dropping off a meal, stopping by with groceries, or picking up older siblings, always make sure to plan when you are coming and not stop by unannounced.  Don’t plan to stay long – new moms need to catch sleep whenever they can and don’t need to entertain. And don’t expect to hold the baby.  Always let this be something a new mom offers; don’t be upset if she doesn’t.
  3. Do a household chore
    If you do come for a quick visit, find a way to tidy the house before leaving.  Whether you load the dishwasher, fold laundry, sweep the floor, cut vegetables for a meal, or scrub the bathroom let the new mother know that you would be blessed by serving her and allowing her to let you do ______ for her.
  4. Organize outing for older siblings
    While mom and baby are spending extra time together in the early weeks, offer to take any older siblings to the park, your house for a play date, on an outing, etc.
  5. Coordinate rotation of help
    Some moms have many friends who want to bring meals or help out in other ways.  Offer to coordinate the meal rotation so that they have warm meals spaced out for days/weeks after having a baby.  Coordinate others to grocery shop, fold laundry, or clean house.  Any help will be appreciated!
  6. Support her in breastfeeding
    Whether a new mom is just tired or there are significant breastfeeding challenges, support her decision to breastfeed by offering encouragement and support.  Don’t undermine her goals by telling her she looks exhausted and should give a bottle to her baby.  If she needs help, seek out qualified lactation support on her behalf.
  7. Close friends & family may stay longer
    Sometimes a new mother is alone during the day when baby’s father must return to work and she would like company.  If you do stay for a longer visit, insist on helping out in the house by cooking, cleaning, caring for older siblings, etc..
  8. Set up her nursing station
    A new mom’s main job in the early days is to feed her baby.  Helping her to be comfortable while she is nursing is a great support.  Offer to bring pillows, a drink, her phone, remote, a snack, or anything else that will help her be comfortable while feeding her baby.
  9. Change baby’s diaper and bring her to mom
    Allowing a new mom to rest and not have to get up and down between every feed (especially at night) is a huge help. If mom and baby are not bed sharing at night, this is a great time for baby’s father to help a new mother as well.
  10. Get some fresh air
    Whether a new mom prefers for you to stay at the house while her baby naps and she takes a brisk walk, or you go on an outing with her and her baby, getting out of the house can do wonders for both mother and baby.

Finally, if you are unsure, ask her what help she needs.  As a new mother gets into a rhythm with her baby she will naturally find ways she needs help.  Don’t hesitate to ask her what she needs assistance with…and then do it!