Whether you are a partner, a friend or a family member of a mother arriving home from hospital, your support is critical to helping her transition to a new life. But your help is also critical for ensuring the best possible outcomes for the baby because a happy and healthy mother is the best support for a newborn baby.

Driving home

Being there to drive a sore, tired and exhausted mother back home is a great first step. After a couple of sleepless nights, often intense painkillers and the sheer exhaustion of labour, the last thing a new mum wants to do is navigate traffic. Even just carrying her bags down to the car will be greatly appreciated.

Remember that women who have had caesareans aren’t allowed to drive until their wounds have healed, in which case your help will be vital.

Once you get home

Help her to unpack and replace everything so she doesn’t have to worry about it. Some of her toiletries and the baby’s hygiene items will be in her bags, so make sure these are available to mum.

If it was a hurry to get out to the hospital in the first place, the changing and feeding areas might also need some setting up, so offer to do these in a way that makes things easiest for mum.

Around the house

Giving mum a reprieve from any cleaning or odd jobs like mowing the lawn or taking the bins out will go a long way to allowing her to relax and focus her attention on the baby.

Likewise, trips to the shops for supplies and even offering a hand in preparing food and making meals that can be easily reheated will be welcome. Remember that nutritious wholefoods and a high fibre diet are optimal for mum as these allow her to recover more quickly and make going to the toilet easier.

Offer to be a chauffeur…

Mum might have follow up appointments she needs to go to, or she might just want to get out of the house. Go for walks to the park or take her out for coffee or lunch so she can remain connected to the community.

…and a babysitter

Mum might need a nap or she might just need some time to herself. She’ll appreciate an extra set of eyes and hands to look after the baby, whether that’s feeding or watching over them as they settle for sleep.

Be a friend

Be open to listening to any anxieties or worries mum might have – this has been a traumatic time and is a massive change in her life. She might welcome you being there to mediate the inevitable eager visitors and ensure their stays don’t overwhelm.

In all cases, always keep an eye out for any sudden changes in her mood or behaviour as these could be signs of postnatal depression, in which case you might need to talk to her about seeing a doctor.