It's an unfortunate truth that sometimes pregnancy and birth don't go as expected. If you have a friend who is on bed rest due to a high-risk pregnancy, is facing a longer-than-expected recovery after birth, or has a baby in the NICU (and perhaps even all three of these apply), you might be wondering how to best offer support to them. We've got the best tried-and true ideas for offering practical help for families experiencing a rough pregnancy or postpartum recovery.
You don't have to have extensive culinary skills to love on people through food. Ask about any particulars- food allergies or sensitivities; favorites or those to avoid- then come up with a simple meal. Pack food in containers that do not have to be returned and include disposable utensils if possible.
Don't have the time or skills to cook the meal yourself? Ask your friends to pick a night they would like dinner from their favorite restaurant and offer to buy and hand deliver it.
Don't neglect breakfast or lunch time! Maybe your career involves shift work or others have taken care of dinners for several nights. Offer instead to pick up coffee and breakfast or bring over lunch.
Assist with childcare.
If you have a close enough relationship to the family, you may consider offering to assist with the care of older siblings or transporting the children to school or daycare.
You don't have to directly provide the childcare to help out in this area though. The costs of childcare are often significant, and if a parent is missing work due to a high-risk pregnancy or prolonged healing postpartum, contributions toward childcare are immensely helpful. Depending on your ability, offer financial help toward preschool tuition or a babysitter- even if it's only for one night.
Check off housekeeping tasks.
Offer to take care of household chores: laundry, dishes, vacuuming, watering plants, pulling weeds, etc.
Also consider running necessary errands. Does your friend have mail that needs to be dropped off? A return to make at Target? A prescription to pick up? Does their car need an oil change?
Create a care package.
Put together some fun items to add sunshine to your friend's day. A few of our favorites:
The Big Fat Activity Book for Pregnant People
Fidget toys like Poppin Pea Pods, Mochi Squishy Toys, and Rubik's Cubes
A dainty star necklace
Bear Water-Bang Hydrating Mask
Actually, speaking of masks, we think a good butt sheet mask would be a good for a laugh
Does your friend have a baby in the NICU? Pack a cute tote with travel-size toiletries, gum, snacks, slippers, coins for vending machines, gas cards, and meal cards for the hospital or local restaurants.
You can't go wrong with cash. Even offering small contributions of $10-15-20 is helpful toward paying for gas, food, and prescriptions. If you are comfortable doing so, you might even offer to cover a specific bill one month. Most folks know how financial stress can take its toll on families and individuals- and that is additional stress parents going through pregnancy and new parenthood don't need.
Respecting your own trauma and healing.
If you experienced a difficult pregnancy, birth, or postpartum time and being too close to a similar situation is triggering for you, that is okay. It's healthy to recognize your own needs and set boundaries.
You can offer solid support while protecting your own mental health. Offer to cover the cost of dinner and to have it delivered. Send a handwritten card with a gift card or cash. Offer to pay for the cost of an in-home lactation visit or a professional doula. Make a care package of items that you found especially helpful (or wish you'd had) and drop it off.
What kind of support was most helpful to you during pregnancy and after delivery?