You’ve probably heard about the different love languages, quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, and physical touch. A new or soon-to-be mother will likely benefit from variations of all of them.
This Valentine's Day, as both a mother myself and someone who has spent years working with new parents, both as an advocate in maternal health and as an editor, I understand that a huge bunch of flowers might not be at the top of a newly postpartum partner's wishlist - though I'll never say no to a bouquet.
So here are a few ways to show the new or soon-to-be parent in your life that you adore them.
Post-its of Support
The switch from non-mother to mother can be hard going even for the most excited and well prepared new parent and sometimes we all need a bit of extra support, to be reminded through both body and mental changes, we are still us, still beautiful and not alone.
Sometimes affirmation can be as simple as leaving a strategically placed post-it note for a partner to find each day, especially if they are home alone with a newborn. A note to say how beautiful they are on the bathroom mirror, a thank you for everything you are doing for our child stuck on top of the baby wipes, a small treat in the refrigerator with a note to say remember I’m thinking of you.
Mental Health Support
Sometimes the best gift we can give someone is to acknowledge that they might be struggling with things. “During the journey of postpartum recovery, the most profound gifts aren't always tangible, and you don't have to go very far to get them.
Perinatal psychologist, Dr. Alyssa Berlin, recommends "the invaluable gifts of empathy and compassion—especially crucial if you suspect that your partner is facing internal struggles. Recognizing the signs of distress and approaching the topic with sensitivity is key. It's essential to foster a safe space for open communication, where expressing concerns and encouraging the pursuit of external health support is seen not as a sign of weakness, but as an act of bravery. Assure your partner that seeking help is a courageous step towards healing and well-being. With these supportive gifts, you lay a foundation of love and understanding, ensuring your partner knows they are not alone in this journey. Together, with empathy, compassion, and unwavering support, navigating the postpartum period can evolve into a shared path of recovery, strength, and deep, lasting connection”
Talk to a trusted professional for advice if you have concerns about someone's mental health.
I understand that the idea of hypnobirthing doesn’t appeal to everyone, and while I definitely didn’t see a beautiful rainbow spectrum while in labor, my nightly pregnancy ritual did help me approach the onset of contractions with calm breathing and a sense of empowerment. Many cities offer classes and you can also find downloadable resources of breathing and meditation techniques for more information. Check out https://hypnobirthing.com for more information.
One of the hardest things to adjust to as a new parent is how it completely changes time. In many cases mothers will ask “what is spare time?”. So a really valuable resource you could give this Valentine's day might be something that frees up some time to spend together or just give some hours back in the day for her.
Even if it’s just a one off spring clean booking. There were days when I stared around my postpartum house and the combination of sleep deprivation and a healing body and keeping a small human alive seemed to have created a cleaning disaster. The clutter everywhere seemed to exasperate the cluttered feeling and mental fog of my mind. My husband arranged to have a housekeeper come and having a house in order felt like the greatest gift in terms of being able to re-order my mind.
Finding time to connect with each other when you've just welcomed a high needs human into the house can be close to impossible. Depending on your circumstances a date can look very different. It might be cooking or ordering a nice take out and finding her favorite movie, setting a table, lighting candles, having a sitter or family member watch the baby for a few hours and going for dinner close by. In some cases maybe grandma can take the baby overnight, whatever makes sense for your family the intention is to remind her you value her more than just as a mother but as the woman you fell in love with.
An Invisible Labor Concierge Service or AI Support
Struggling with the chaos of new motherhood? Enter the invisible labor concierge service or AI support. While it's not as simple as it sounds – I wish it were – the sheer amount of invisible labor involved in parenting often comes as a shock. That's where concierge services like Yohanna and family organizational AI's like Ohai, from the founder of care.com, come in. These services are gaining traction because they alleviate the overwhelming burden of managing various tasks. If you can take anything off your partner's plate, whether it's organization, research, or simply remembering to handle those forms yourself or through a service, it's a gift of bandwidth. Though it may not seem traditionally romantic, it provides her with the opportunity to relax and focus on aspects of life beyond scheduling appointments.
Acts of service
In the whirlwind of new motherhood, finding time and energy to cook nutritious meals can feel like an impossible feat. That's where meal prep can save the day.
By gifting the convenience of pre-prepared, healthy meals, you're not just providing sustenance – you're offering a lifeline. With meal prep, new mothers can nourish their bodies and minds without the stress of grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking. It's the perfect way to show you care, supporting her physical recovery and overall well-being during this transformative time. This is either something you can do personally, taking a weekend to prep all the meals for the following week or you could gift her a daily delivery service catering to her needs like Chiyo, Kooshi, or Daily Harvest.
Postpartum Recovery Prep
As your partner embarks on the journey of postpartum recovery, it's crucial to offer support to ensure they feel nurtured during this transformative time. Start by educating yourself on the physical and emotional changes they may experience, as this will help in laying the foundation of understanding what they might need. Stock up on essential items like pads, comfortable underwear, and postpartum care products to ease their transition, don’t make a big deal about it. Arrange a support network of friends and family to assist with household chores, allow your partner to focus on rest and bonding with the newborn. Create a tranquil environment with cozy bedding and soothing elements to promote relaxation and healing. Maybe your Valentine's gift is the herbs for a sitz bath. Or a bed made up with beautiful new linen.
Take Over Childcare
Now, taking care of your own child should be considered normal parenting regardless of who you are in the partnership, not a gift. However, in the early days of postpartum, the bulk of childcare often falls on the mother, particularly if she is breastfeeding. It can also be exhausting and leave some new mothers feeling touched out and depleted.
Offering a guilt-free act of service by planning thoughtfully between feeds to take over care and letting her know you've got this can be invaluable. You can hush them back to sleep, change diapers, and handle everything - showing you've thought it through, without adding the labor of prep onto her plate. Offer her some headphones or to take the baby for a walk so she can have a few hours to just feel peace or nap. Perhaps she wants to meet a friend for tea or go to a gentle yoga class. The key here is communication; convey that you are capable of caring for the baby for a few hours alone, making a new mother, who is often a little anxious, feel safe and comfortable in that, allowing her to comfortably take a moment.
Our skin goes through a lot during pregnancy, stretching and changing. The effects of hormones can also seem to play havoc with our complexions. So much of new motherhood is focused on our baby, having their needs met, and just keeping our heads above water, that we often find very little time for self-care. Gifting your partner skin care from her favorite brand (have a peek at what's running low in the bathroom cabinet.), or perhaps finding a great non-toxic brand like Osea, Tata Harper or and gifting her a small selection of things to make her feel loved and special.
So I was a fashion editor prior to the birth of my child and had spent years acquiring a vast collection of shoes. Imagine my horror that postpartum I realized it wasn’t just swelling but I had actually gone up a whole shoe size in pregnancy! While this certainly doesn’t happen to everyone, my shoe needs also dramatically changed after having a child into more flats, things easy to get on and off and those more ready to handle dirt as my daughter moved into toddling. I love Rothy's as they are comfortable, chic, machine washable and B-corp certified. But you know your partner's style best, maybe her dream shoe is some Jenni Kayne easy to slip on mules, a fun pair of Crocs, or it’s those Prada pumps she’s always dreamed of - just make sure you check what her current size is.
An E-reader or Wireless Headphones
A lot of pregnancy and new motherhood can be sitting and waiting. Waiting for your appointment with your practitioner, waiting in labor between contractions, or for your time to go in for a c-section. Then postpartum feeding in the middle of the night, sitting quietly rocking a new baby to sleep. It can feel mentally draining and lonely. The gift of something like AirPods means that she can listen to music or a podcast while feeding if you need a brain break or to distract from labor pains. The option to be able to switch between the ability to hear outside noise and then totally turn outside noise off was a real selling point for me. An e-reader allows reading at low light if waiting silently for a baby to fall asleep, something I appreciated more than I know and I think both make extremely practical gifts.
Book Her a Massage
A massage is rarely an unwanted gift, and during pregnancy and postpartum, it holds even greater significance. Throughout these stages, women's bodies undergo substantial changes and stresses. From the physical discomforts of pregnancy like back pain and swollen feet to the strains of labor and the demands of caring for a newborn, muscles and ligaments can feel taxed. A prenatal massage can offer relief from these discomforts while promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Similarly, a postpartum massage aids in the body's recovery process, alleviating muscle soreness and fatigue. Beyond the physical benefits, massages provide a much-needed opportunity to unwind mentally and emotionally, offering a moment of respite and rejuvenation amidst the challenges of motherhood. Thus, gifting a massage is not just a gesture of relaxation but also a thoughtful expression of care and support during this transformative time.
Give her a Mani Pedi
Some women rarely do their nails but for others women it's very much part of their identity. When heavily pregnant, seeing your feet can be impossible let alone cutting or polishing your toenails or rubbing lotion in. If you are choosing to paint your nails during pregnancy although considered safe by regulators there are also brands like Kapanui Nails that work towards being non-toxic.
Helping Combat Physical Depletion
When it comes to caring for our bodies and showing love to both ourselves and those who are pregnant or postpartum, ensuring that the body is not nutritionally depleted is our top priority at Needed. While some individuals may think it’s time to discontinue supplementation after their baby is born, as their providers often don’t talk about postpartum nutrition, it's important to recognize that the postpartum period is a time of recovery. Gifting a products like those in our postpartum collection specially formulated to provide optimal levels of nutrients, can be incredibly beneficial during this crucial time.