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Between feeding and changing diapers, new parents are often consumed with caring for a newborn to the exclusion of all else, including their own well-being. Here's how you can help out

Welcoming a new baby into the family is an emotional and physical challenge for parents, but particularly for moms, as they adjust to the demands of fulfilling a little one’s big needs.

It is a time when help is appreciated and very much needed, but it can be hard for friends and family to know how best to support parents of newborns. Here are four suggestions that take the guesswork out of knowing what a mom wants!

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A Little More Sleep

Everyone knows that life with a newborn means very little sleep, but not much can prepare a parent for the stress of sleep deprivation. Kim Vopni, who specializes in health and wellness solutions for moms pre- and post-natal, says “Women put expectations on themselves to do everything. It is important to care for Mom too.”

She suggests hiring a postpartum doula who can provide newborn care, time for Mom to rest, as well as act as a resource for breastfeeding and emotional support. But you can also offer your own babysitting services. Taking baby out for a walk means Mom not only gets time to herself, she gets a quiet house.

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A Healthy Meal

Even a well-planned day that unfolds perfectly can turn sour at mealtime. Let Mom focus on her baby and older children during this hectic time by preparing healthy freezer meals and snacks that can be easily re-heated. Remember to keep Mom’s nutrition needs in mind, especially if she is breastfeeding.

Lianne Phillipson-Webb, nutrition consultant and author of the book Sprout Right: Nutrition From Tummy to Toddler, has the following suggestions:

  • Make meals that include greens like kale, chard, spinach or collard greens, all of which contain bone-building nutrients;
  • Aim to balance animal and vegetable protein to help stabilize energy and mood;
  • Try batches of soup that are nutrient-rich and easy to re-heat.
  • Fast snacks like muffins and sweet breads are helpful but be sure to find recipes without a lot of sugar and throw in some extra nutrients like flax, hemp or chia seeds.

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An Excuse to Spend Time Alone

Sometimes the demands of a newborn mean a mom’s needs get pushed out of the picture. Help Mom restore her emotional balance by giving her the gift of some time to herself. A gift certificate for a massage or a yoga class offers the benefits of relaxation and the chance to get back in touch with her body.

Vopni also suggests the gift of a personal trainer, one knowledgeable about the post-partum period. A personal trainer can offer "a postpartum assessment and core restoration session so mom knows what to do and what not to do to ensure optimal healing."

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A Clean House

New mom Jana’s favourite gift when her son Reid arrived was several months of a maid service: "It took the pressure of keeping the house clean completely off my shoulders so I could focus on what my baby and I needed most."

A clean house can go a long way toward restoring a mom’s mood and confidence, while providing her with extra time and energy to devote to her growing bundle, and her own needs. Offering help need not be awkward or challenging. Try wrapping up a gift certificate, having an honest talk with mom about her needs, or suggesting rather than asking what you can do.