Cassie Shortsleeve is a paid partner. All opinions and text are her own.
Becoming a parent is one of the most monumental shifts in a person’s life. (Sociologists even have a term for the transformative process of becoming a mother: matrescence. Pronounced like adolescence, matrescence is a time of massive change — physical, physiological, emotional, social, and spiritual evolution.)
Yet, too often, the months that precede and immediately follow new parenthood are met with misguided expectations, assumptions of all-joyful times, and a lack of education and awareness around the realities that often come with adding a baby to the family.
Pregnant people, expecting, and new parents are often sent onesies and well-wishes for the baby, only to be left feeling left out themselves — wondering if their experience is… well … normal.
There is nuance in the journey to and of parenthood; everyone’s experience is different. But I find that one thing is universal: All new and expecting parents need and deserve help and support.
Parenting was never something that was meant to be done in isolation or as a one or two person team.
So how do we best support the new parents in our lives? These three small efforts will make a big difference in a new parent’s life.
Whenever a friend becomes a parent, I always ask them one question: How are you doing?
You’d be surprised to know that you may be the first person to ask this question. Often, when a baby is born, parents feel cast aside in the limelight of a newborn. While there is certainly joy in the birth of a baby, parents need love and attention, too.
Creating a safe and non-judgmental space (read: no advice, just listening and support) for someone to be able to share their emotions helps people feel seen, understood, and supported.
It’s even more powerful, too: Social support is a powerful protector against perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS) such as postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.
You know how sometimes, by nature, we tend to say things like, “Let me know how I can help!”. Well, while well-intended, often phrases like this go unanswered because people don’t want to ask for help. Sometimes they don’t know what they need. Other times, they’re too overwhelmed to answer.
But the truth is, new parents need help — and people always remember those who pitched in (with laundry, dishes, or watching the baby so that they could sleep) in the early days. Lightening a new parent’s load often involves simply stepping up and showing up.
It’s always important to respect a new family’s boundaries, too. Some parents may not be open to visitors (even helpers), for example. Dropping off groceries, offering to pick up older children for a few hours, or even calling a friend to talk for a few minutes are easy ways to support someone who isn’t ready for guests.
In the sleep-deprived haze and exhaustion of new parenthood, one simple (and important!) task — making a meal — can feel insurmountable. That’s why support around food and nutrition in early parenthood is so key.
Drop off meals, send a friend an Uber Eats gift card, order new parents takeout, or drop off a care package full of postnatal vitamins and other nutritional goodies.
While many people don’t realize it, keeping up with the vitamins, minerals and overall nutrition that your body needs can help restore depleted nutrient levels and help new parents — especially birthing parents — feel their best.
In pregnancy, a prenatal vitamin is key, especially as it relates to getting enough folate and choline, both are key nutrients that help support the baby’s healthy brain development.*
During the postpartum period, postnatal supplements provide important nutrients like iron, which can be in lower levels due to blood loss at delivery, and others like iodine, choline (important for infant brain development*), and moringa leaf which is important for lactating mothers.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.