From the moment those two lines appear on a pregnancy test, you’re deep in the whirlwind of being a new mom. There are so many unknowns, so much ‘advice’ and so many dreams and ideas of the kind of mom you want to be… it’s a lot.
In the days and weeks after your new baby arrives, you get asked so many questions, and most common of which are ‘is the baby sleeping well’ or ‘are they a good baby’.
And while people ask these questions (often) because they don’t know what else to ask, it can leave a new mom feeling even more overwhelmed.
The reality is, new babies aren’t supposed to sleep ‘well’ – they wake often and this is normal. And, all babies are good babies… you can’t have a bad baby… so how are you supposed to answer that question?
Instead, we should be asking questions that are supportive and help build a new mom up.
These are some of the questions you should ask a new mom, and take time to actually listen to her answers:
1 – Are YOU Getting Enough Sleep
New babies sleep and wake often, it’s what they do and it’s what they a biologically programmed to do. The more important question is asking a new mom if she is getting enough sleep (and be prepared to help if she says no).
While it might be tempting to offer to nurse the baby or watch the baby while mom sleeps, this can cause an increase in anxiety for some moms as babies are meant to be close during the days and weeks after birth (it is part of the fourth trimester).
Instead, offer to take chores off her list so she doesn’t have to worry, put a sign on her front door that says no visitors, let her sleep while the baby sleeps, and just be there so she doesn’t worry she won’t wake to her baby stirring. And most importantly, as her what you can do to help.
2 – Are YOU Getting Enough Support?
There is no doubt about it, being a parent is hard work. It’s even harder when you feel like you’re doing it alone.
Ask a new mom if she has enough support, not just from her partner or family but also from her care providers too.
This isn’t about telling a new mom what she can give up (telling a new mom to not worry about the cleaning when she is the kind of person who can’t relax unless things are clean isn’t going to help) but rather finding ways to support her.
If the new mom is having trouble breastfeeding, don’t immediately remind her she can switch to formula – she knows this. Instead, ask her what SHE wants to do. If breastfeeding is something that is important to her, then support what she wants and find ways to help (such as finding a lactation consultant).
Support comes in many forms, and she may find that her partner has to return to work and she is nervous about being home with her new baby on her own. Having someone close by might be the support she needs.
Every mom will need different levels of support in different areas, so be sure to ask what it is she needs support with.
3 – What Chore Can I Take Off Your List?
During the fourth trimester, a lot of moms simply want to sit and hold their babies (so snuggly), but unfortunately, the household chores don’t stop and newborns somehow have so much washing.
Rather than assuming what a new mom needs, ask her (are you seeing a trend here?).
Bringing a meal might be a great idea, but if she already has meals prepared she may not have space to store it. Or she might love cooking and look forward to that time each night.
Sometimes it can be difficult for a new mom to articulate what it is she needs, so you could be a little more forward by saying “I’m doing a click and collect grocery order this week, I can collect yours too, which day suits you better, Monday or Thursday?” or while you’re visiting “which would you prefer me to do, the dishes or a load of washing?”
4 – What Has Surprised You Most About Being A Mom?
When you’re a new mom, everyone talks about the baby, which is really sweet and kind, but sometimes it’s nice for people to check in with you too.
Asking ‘what has surprised you most about being a mom’ can be a great way to allow a new mom to share things that she may be a little hesitant to just bring up on her own.
No matter how much you read and prepare, there will always be surprises when you have a new baby. Whether it’s how you feel, pain or discomfort you’re experiencing, or your expectations versus reality, sometimes you can feel like it’s just you, but sharing these experiences with other people can be really helpful.
It can also be a great chance for her to really gush and share how much she loves motherhood, or share some challenges she may be facing.
5 – What Is Your Favorite Thing So Far?
This question can be a great follow-up to ‘what has surprised you most about being a mom’.
It allows the new mom to really reflect on all the wonderful (and sometimes challenging) parts of motherhood and helps her to focus on the positives.
Even if she’s had a tough day, this question can remind her of all the wonderful things about being a mom and help her to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
6 – What Do You Need Right Now?
This is a great question to ask at any time, but especially when you can tell a new mom is struggling.
It’s direct and to the point, and it shows that you’re truly interested in helping her in any way you can.
Maybe she needs someone to watch the baby for a few minutes so she can have a quick shower, or maybe she just needs someone to listen to her vent about how frustrating it is she can’t figure out her new mom schedule.
Whatever it is, let her know that you’re there for her and want to help in any way you can.
7 – Do You Want To Talk About It?
There will be many times when a new mom just wants to talk, but she’s not sure if she should bring it up or not.
Asking her directly if she wants to talk about it can help to open the conversation and make her feel more comfortable sharing how she’s really feeling.
She may not want to talk about it right away, and that’s okay, but at least she knows that you’re there for her if she ever does want to talk.
Becoming a mom is one of the most amazing, life-changing experiences a woman can go through.
It can be a bit overwhelming at times, but it’s also so incredibly rewarding.
Asking these seven questions to a new mom can help her to feel supported, loved, and appreciated during this special time in her life, and remind her that you are there for her.