|Photo by storkbitesforyou|
- A book, especially one of short stories or essays. The shorter pieces are great to read while nursing, but novels are good too.
- Want a really awesome gift? If Mom doesn't already have a tablet or eReader, a Kindle or Nook is much easier to handle than a print book, and they start as low as $70. (Obviously you'd have to be a pretty great friend to splurge on this!)
- Mom not a reader? Try a small, handheld game--but make sure you can turn off any noises it might make (and play one handed!)
- Cute nursing tops, if Mom's nursing. Baby isn't the only one who needs clothing! I never had body image issues until I had a baby, and new moms often spent a lot of their time feeling pretty gross. Something to make a new mom feel pretty & normal again is great!
- Baby calendar & pen (archival quality!). Let's be honest: these things are mostly for moms, right?
- Along those lines, a journal, either blank or with baby prompts. All of these help remind us how far we've come in when the days can easily blend together.
- Small treats. With this baby, my husband's company sent a gift basket from a local bakery to the hospital, and we got to enjoy some delicious treats there and at home. (Keep in mind that Mom might be worried about getting back to her pre-birth weight, so don't go overboard here.)
- Meals! The traditional gift might feel cliche, but sometimes preparing dinner (even if Mom & Dad are the only ones eating) is just one thing too many for a new mom. Especially great: meals that can be frozen to use in the future.
- Too far away to send meals? Look for gift certificates to local restaurants--especially ones that offer delivery or pick-up/to-go options.
- Help. Most of the time, when someone says "What can I do to help?", a new mom will blank, or might be too afraid to ask for what she really needs. Try to be specific in an offer to help: "Can I clean your bathroom?" "Can I take your other kids to the park for you for an afternoon this week?" "When would you like me to watch the baby so you can shower/sleep?"
- Adult conversation. Although a new mom's schedule can be crazy, and it's hard for new moms to find time to reach out, call, email, text or IM to help give Mom a lifeline to the adult world when she feels isolated with a child who can't even make eye contact. But if it's not a good time for Mom, don't be offended, and try again later!
- Sanity! Especially if you've been there. Let Mom know that the first few weeks and months are often hard, and it's okay to feel overwhelmed but that things will get better. A handwritten note or an email can help. (NOTE: while feeling overwhelmed is normal, it can also be a symptom of postpartum depression or even postpartum psychosis. Never minimize a mother's feelings, and if ever you think a mental health professional might be necessary, please do get help!)
- A date night. A new baby can be especially hard on a marriage. After my first was born, I felt like I'd never be able to spend time with my husband ever again. (This isn't true, but it feels true.) A stay-at-home date can be best: a DVD, a dinner and a dessert.
- The healthcare basics: This might be a little too personal for some friends, but ibuprofen/acetaminophen, sanitary napkins (I've heard tampons are okay after C-sections), Tucks pads & Dermoplast spray (for vaginal delivery), ice packs (for C-section & nursing), a rice bag or heating pad, lanolin, nursing pads, and ear plugs for emergencies will all come in handy.
- Although we're teetotalers for religious reasons, I hear that after nine months of abstaining, wine or champagne is a welcome gift, and a good way to celebrate the new baby.
What do you think? What's in your new mom survival kit?