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How to support new moms during a pandemic

Last Modified: 4/21/2020

Help for new mothers

This post was written by Erin Norton, RN, BSN, MBA, director of Community Outreach, Parkview Women’s & Children’s Service Line.

Women have expectations of what it will be like to meet their new babies and introduce them to their families. COVID-19 has changed all of this. Visitor restrictions have limited who can support them during labor and visit after the baby is born. Social distancing has resulted in cancelled baby showers and a lack of visitors. For many women, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is suddenly nowhere near what they expected.

Women and families need support now more than ever. Many articles have been written on how to support a family with a new baby. Usually these include practical ways to help, such as babysitting older children, vacuuming the floors or keeping an eye on the baby so the new mom can rest. Unfortunately, many of these ideas aren’t appropriate when social distancing measures are in place. This means we have to think outside the box.

Safe ways to help new moms

Parkview’s Women’s and Children’s nurse navigators and community health workers engage with new moms every day. They collaborated and collected alternative ideas for ways to show support for the new mothers in your life, while still following the stay at home order.

  • Cards, words of encouragement and simply checking in.  After delivery it’s normal to have some emotional ups and downs. It’s essential that new moms feel connected.
  • Use technology!  Tap into video conferencing services such as FaceTime and Zoom, where you can see all the smiles and tears.
  • Self-care for new moms is critical.  Consider dropping off some items just for mom, like a favorite snack, music, candle, lotion or anything else that will make her feel cared for. Nail care items are a fun, frequent request.
  • Gift cards to restaurants are always a welcome treat.  Make sure they are for somewhere that offers carry-out or delivery.
  • Make sure the family is well-supplied with all necessities.  It’s likely the family has had some anxiety over going out in public. They may not have had an opportunity to stock up. Delivering needed items and household staples to their doorstep allows them to stay at home.
  • Make a meal.  Homemade meals delivered to the home are a welcome sight to new parents. Consider including some healthy snacks that are prepped and ready-to-eat, such as washed grapes and cut up celery sticks. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and during preparations.
  • Make a virtual date.  Schedule some time to do something “alone together”, like a free yoga class online or watching an artist or comedian perform. There are so many entertaining options online.
  • Breastfeeding is frequently challenging in the beginning.  Support and encouragement is essential!
  • Pitch in outside.  Helping with indoor housework may be limited, but yardwork is still on the table. Mow the lawn, spread some mulch or plant some flowers. The family may enjoy this more than ever since they are spending more time at home. If the family has a patio, drop off a potted tomato plant or flowers.
  • Pick up essentials for baby.  Diapers and wipes are almost always needed. Check in frequently so that mom isn’t in a position that she needs to make a special trip.
  • Provide the entertainment.  Offer to pay for a month of a streaming service like Netflix or Disney Plus.   
Support for the siblings

There have been lots of suggestions for families with older children. It is a challenge to take care of a newborn while also entertaining and homeschooling older siblings, especially when breaks are few and far between. Here are some suggestions specifically for these families:

  • Include a small surprise for them in any delivery.  Sidewalk chalk, games, books and crayons are great options for keeping the occupied.
  • Make a virtual babysitting date.  Keep older kids occupied over FaceTime or Zoom by reading them books, play games (try Battleship), do a virtual science experiment or help with homework. This will give the parents a break and relieve them of some homeschooling responsibilities.
  • Prepare some simple and non-messy craft kits.  Drop them off at the home and then do them together over the phone. It is imperative that the craft isn’t messy. Absolutely no glitter.
  • Prepare an outdoor scavenger hunt in the yard.

Keep in mind that while the current restrictions won’t last forever, families will have varying levels of comfort adjusting to the “new normal”. Just because some visitor restrictions are lifted doesn’t mean that all families will be eager for guests. Be respectful of new parents’ wishes even if they aren’t what you yourself would choose. It’s normal for new parents to want to err on the side of caution. Please don’t shame them for decisions they’ve made to keep their family safe. Consider offering a variety of things that you could do to be supportive and let the family choose what works best for them.

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