A good friend of mine is pregnant, and I really want to help her when she has the baby, but I am not sure how to do this. This is her first child, and I have no children of my own. I am really at a loss as to what would help her and what would not.

Hello! It is great that you are thinking ahead about what can be helpful. Having a baby is an amazing experience that can bring lots of joy and lots of stress. 

There are many ways you can help your friend. One of the first is to come right out and ask her what she needs or thinks she will need.  

Food can be very helpful when mom and baby return home. If other people are helping in this way, perhaps you can help coordinate who is bringing what on which day. Having five pot roasts show up on the same day can be a bit overwhelming. 

It is important, though, that you know her dietary needs. If you are unsure of any existing food allergies or preferences, gift certificates to local food places that deliver are welcomed.

If this is a close friend and you can go to the house and help, I am sure she will be grateful. Having someone run the vacuum, do the dishes or fold the laundry can be so helpful. A lot of times, well-meaning individuals will go over and offer to hold the baby so mothers can “get things done.”

New moms are tired and happy to hold their own babies (unless they can go take a nap or shower). It is the “getting-things-done” part that they need help with.

If you are a gift-giver, find out what mom and baby have already received and what they need still. Look ahead and anticipate the baby growing and going up in diaper and clothing size. Again, find out if there is anything mom really wants or needs. 

Everyone loves to buy the cute little outfits, but burp clothes can be worth their weight in gold.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to continue to be there as her friend. Sometimes it can be stressful on a relationship when one party has a big life-changing event that the other party has not experienced. 

Keep talking and communicating. It may feel a bit awkward to listen to her birth story, but if she needs to talk, listen. This is what friends do for each other. 

Being a new mother is hard work. The birth of a child is often romanticized while the emotional and physical needs of the new mom are minimized. It is not unusual for some new mothers to struggle with depression. 

Having a support system of family, friends and community are important. There is a great resource called Sistering CU https://www.sisteringcu.org/. If your friend can use any extra support in any way, please encourage her to reach out. 

I wish you and your friend well.

Sherrie

If you have a question you think will help others, please send it for consideration to RantoulAskSherrie@yahoo.com.

This column is not intended to provide counseling/legal advice. Before you undertake any action, you should consult your own social worker/counselor. In the event of a mental health emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Sherrie Faulkner of Rantoul, who writes a monthly column for the Rantoul Press, is a supporter of the local community. If you have a question that you think will help others, you may send it for consideration to RantoulAskSherrie@yahoo.com