A new arrival in the family fills people with so much joy that even the thriftiest and morose ones amongst us tend to soften our hearts and loosen our purse strings to shower the little one with blessings as well as gifts. Well-wishers make a beeline to get a glimpse of the baby and possibly to cuddle and play with her – never mind that usually she either sleeps or cries through the whole hoopla surrounding her. Amidst all the oohing and aahing over the bundle of joy, people tend to overlook, or dare I say forget, one important person who has been instrumental in bringing the new life into this world: the mother.
Oh yes, a whole brigade of grannies and aunties swoop in to drown us new moms with advice and various traditional concoctions, which they swear by. Notice though that even such well-meaning gestures are mostly for the well-being of the baby – eat this and you will have abundant supply of breast milk, do that and the baby will be healthy…Of course, one can argue that the well-being and happiness of the child will in turn contribute to the happiness of the mother. Nevertheless, wouldn’t it be nice to stop for a moment and show your appreciation for this woman who has gone through 9 months of pregnancy, labour and is battling sleep deprivation, hormone surges, various aches and pains, dirty diapers and what not, all the while learning the ropes of being a mother to this wailing, wriggling and helpless little person?
I hear you ask, “But wasn’t she pampered throughout her pregnancy? Now it’s the turn of the new born!” Aye, aye I agree; but that is precisely why the lack of attention is more keenly felt! You are practically celebrated through your pregnancy and then you deliver and wham! Suddenly people fail to notice YOU anymore! I don’t know about you dear reader, but at the risk of sounding narcissistic, let me go out on a limb here and say that I would like to be acknowledged now and then too!
If I have managed to convince you that you can do your part in putting a smile on a new mom’s face, read on to discover a few great gift ideas for a new mom:
Maternity wear: I look at my wardrobe and it is full – full of clothes which I really cannot wear now or anytime in the near future. As everybody knows pregnancy and nursing piles on the kilos like nobody’s business and I can’t fit into many of my clothes without looking like an overstuffed pillow bursting at the seams. Or there are clothes which are simply too grand with stone work and sequins and a plethora of other prickly, pokey stuff which, as an admittedly paranoid new mom, I’m afraid would irritate my baby’s delicate skin or worse, that she will eat them when I’m carrying her. There are still a few more clothes like long maxi gowns with back buttons which are not very conducive to nursing especially when one is out and about. That being said, I don’t feel like splurging on new clothes either since I know that my body will keep changing in the coming few months and also because I know that sooner or later whatever I wear will be stained and soiled with a variety of bodily expulsions from my offspring! Thus one is faced with the never ending dilemma – what to wear?
So you see, comfortable and trendy maternity wear could be an ideal gift for a new mother. Perhaps I am not going to dress up and attend board meetings but still it would feel nice to don some pretty clothes and feel good about my body that suddenly seems unrecognizable even to me!
Food: If you don’t trust yourself with all the aforementioned apparel business, another good idea would be to take along some healthy and nutritious meals to the new mom’s house; if you know that a certain dish is her favourite then even better. No one has the energy or the time to cook or eat elaborate meals with an infant around and well-balanced home cooked dishes could be a wonderful blessing indeed. Even if the mother has help around to cook and clean, you could still give her some tasty snacks that she can easily munch on whenever hunger pangs come calling which, let me tell you, is quite often. Spiced roasted mixed nuts or popcorn in different flavours, packed into attractive jars are always a good and thoughtful option. Stay away from heavy, oily or cloying food items as the digestive system of new moms tend to be a tad sensitive and also from my own experience, I definitely do not need the extra kilos!
Convenience products: Pregnancy, labour and looking after a newborn are tiring work. Try to think of something which might help make the new mother’s life a little easier and get it for her, especially because she is not going to be able to go shopping in the first few weeks. For instance, a good quality breastfeeding pillow can ease the load off the mother’s back and shoulders while nursing. A baby sling or carrier can help the mother carry around her baby while doing some chores without straining too much. Some lovely shawls will come in handy while nursing in public and they can be used beyond the breast feeding days as well. If the new mother enjoys reading you could get some uplifting and heart-warming books for her; and if it is someone close to you – and of course if you can afford it – a Kindle is an awesome gift too. I was gifted one by my family and trust me, it has been a real stress buster, especially during all those midnight-marathon-feeding sessions! A word of caution: steer clear of perfumes or strongly scented lotions or bath products and scented candles; while they might be sweet gifts otherwise, a newborn is highly sensitive to strong scents and it is not advisable to expose them to strong aromas.
Time: I am a huge fan of the sitcom Friends and usually manage to find some incident from it that seems relevant to me in real life. Staying true to that sentiment – remember Joey and his coupons “for an hour of Joey love?” While that would make for a crappy gift from a boyfriend (I’d prefer diamonds thank you very much), your time could be an invaluable gift to a new mom. It isn’t going to cost you anything to offer your time to keep an eye on the little one – especially if you have experience handling babies- for a couple of hours but it can be a true lifesaver for a new mother. She could take that much-needed nap, a relaxing bath or even just pop out for a refreshing walk and a breath of fresh air. Usually, when guests visit, you’re expected to stick around and make some polite conversation – you can’t just offload your baby on the guests and take off. Honestly, this can be quite tiresome in the first few weeks. Instead, allowing the mother to take some time for herself would be a helpful and a welcome change.
So there you go! Four easy and simple ways to cheer up that new mom and to help her chase away those dreadful post baby blues! Can you think of any more suitable gifts for a new mom? Would love to know!
Anne John has donned several different hats at various points in life but lately one of them seems to have dwarfed the rest, namely, motherhood. She’s a relatively new mommy who is still getting used to being known as someone’s mom. She describes herself as an explicit caricature of the new mommy – sleep deprived, scatter-brained, in crumpled pyjamas bearing tell-tale signs of baby’s spit-up and other unmentionables! After torturing friends and family with my endless mommy tales, Anne has decided to move on to the internet to share her so-called nuggets of motherly wisdom! I try to keep up an online presence over @annejwrites.