The early stages of motherhood can be a tumultuous time--there’s just no escaping it. Most newly minted moms will find themselves caught in a whirlwind of emotions. Blame it on hormones or sleep deprivation or the stress and newness of the situation. Whatever the case, days will be filled with highs and lows, feelings of joy one moment and overwhelming despair the next. Throw in some sleepless nights and long, drawn-out days, and even the most grounded women can be thrown into a tailspin.
Whether you are her partner, family member, friend or even a stranger, you play an important role in helping any new mom feel beautiful from the inside out. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to be supportive by helping her discover beauty, joy, and gratitude in every aspect of her motherhood.
Take a look at 13 subtle ways you can help a new mom feel beautiful. And when the opportunity presents itself, do what you can to make the new mom in your life shine and feel the love.
13 Say Something
Don’t be shy. If you have the opportunity to compliment a new mom, jump at it. The support and encouragement you provide will run much deeper than just a simple statement. One day, in the not-too-distant future when the stressful and hectic early days of motherhood are behind her, your words will be something she can reflect upon and remember with fondness.
12 Comment on Her Happiness
A new baby can throw a wrench into anyone’s life. A calm routine and somewhat ordered lifestyle can suddenly turn erratic and chaotic. It’s normal for new moms to feel a wide range of emotions while also being riddled with silent questions like, "What have I done to my life?" or "What was I thinking?" But as frazzled and hectic as this time can and will be, there is probably a lot of happiness and joy in the mix, too.
Most of us already know that true happiness is deeper than simply walking around with a huge smile plastered on your face. As most new moms know or will soon discover, happiness can be found in the sense of purpose that comes with your new role. Just changing a dirty diaper can be rewarding if you really stop and think about this little person who relies on a parent for their every need.
When you notice a new mother smile and express some happiness over her baby, focus on it and draw it out. When she coos at her bundle, when she laughs at their facial expression, or when she lovingly talks about her new addition, tell her how happy she looks. It can be easy to forget how happy you are when you're not getting any sleep!
11 Compliment Her Hair
Hair can be a provocative topic to any pregnant woman or new mom. Typically, pregnancy hair is the best hair in the world. It can feel fuller during pregnancy, it may seem thicker than normal. Some women even notice their locks are shinier. This is due to the higher levels of estrogen pregnant women have in their systems; it prolongs their hair from falling out when it normally would during washing and brushing.
Then out pops the baby and the hair honeymoon is over. According to the American Pregnancy Association, up to 60% of a new mom’s hair may fall out following the birth of her child. And it can even take another nine months for hormones to level out and for her hair to return to its normal cycle of growth, rest, falling out, and new growth.
Obviously, a new mom may be extremely self-conscious about her hair. Not only may it be falling out by the handful but her free time for hair styling has probably gone by the wayside as well--at least temporarily.
She may be trying out some new hairstyles that are a tad lower-maintenance. Maybe she’s cut it shorter than usual. Whatever the case, mom hair doesn’t necessarily have to conjure up images of drab and shapeless styles. A new hair style can help a woman exert some level of control over her new identity as a mom. It can represent a new phase in her life--that of motherhood.
If a new mom in your life is trying out some new styles, recently had her hair colored, or even if it’s just thrown up into a ponytail--if you notice a change, comment on it, and tell her how good it looks.
10 Tell Her She Looks Great
Even if she’s wearing sweat pants. Even if her shirt is covered in spit-up. Even if she is obviously tired and sleep-deprived. Say the words “You look great” and mean them! Motherhood can knock any woman for a loop, especially if she’s typically a very put-together and polished person to begin with.
Now, not only does she have this new infant to take care of, but she probably has some baby weight to shed. She may still be wearing her maternity clothes, and she’s lucky if she has time to brush her hair, let alone wash it, dry it, and style it.
So, don’t state the obvious. Don’t tell her she looks exhausted. She probably is. But more importantly, what if she’s not? What if this new mom had one of the most restful nights of sleep ever since giving birth? What if she woke up feeling refreshed and clear-headed and with your one thoughtless comment, you deflated her positive energy just like that?
Refrain from asking how much weight she gained during the pregnancy and how much she has left to lose--even if you are brimming with curiosity. Compliment her. Make her feel beautiful. Be supportive and positive. Tell her she looks great, and leave it at that.
9 Focus on Her . . . Only Her
Of course, you want to visit with the baby but don’t forget to pay attention to mom as well. If she’s not completely sleep-deprived or distracted, have a conversation about something other than the baby. Chances are she’s told the birthing story a million times already. So, rather than inundate her with questions, let her lead the way. Listen to what she has to say, pick up the thread, and talk about whatever topics seem to be on her mind.
It’s not always easy for new parents to find the time to pick up a newspaper or turn on the television, so they rely on other individuals to help them remember there’s more going on in the world outside their four walls. That’s where you come in.
8 Compliment Her Skin
Skin changes commonly occur in pregnant women and new mothers due to hormones wreaking havoc in their bodies. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a pregnant woman’s body produces 50% more blood that usual and because there’s more blood flow in the face, this often results in a pinkish hue and a brighter facial appearance--thus the pregnancy glow.
During pregnancy, the skin retains more moisture which can smooth skin out and plump it up during those nine months. Wrinkles and fine lines may appear reduced. If she’s lucky, these skin attributes have followed her into motherhood and she has the new mom “glow.”
Or maybe hormones did a number on her skin and she was plagued with blemishes, pimples, and even acne during the past nine months. Some women get dark patches on their skin and on their face during pregnancy. Due to pigmentation changes called colasma and melisma, these dark patches are often referred to as a “pregnancy mask.” Once hormones level out after childbirth, these pigment changes should start to correct themselves and head back to a normal state.
So, whether her skin is bright, glowing, and beautiful or temporarily marred and now heading back toward its normal appearance, compliment her. Tell her that her skin is glowing and looking great. This may be the perfect pick-me-up she needs to hear.
7 Suggest Some Pampering
Some postpartum pampering may be just what the doctor ordered in order to de-stress, relax, and recharge. Motherhood is mainly about taking care of everyone else, but now and then, it’s important for new moms to clear some time in their schedule to focus on themselves. In a way, it benefits everyone in a new mother’s life if she’s happy and relaxed.
Don’t be surprised if the new mom in your life will require some gentle nudging to leave the baby for a bit in order to enjoy some quality girl time together. After all, with the arrival of this new baby, her priorities have changed and she may feel guilty about putting herself first. But, setting aside all things baby for a few hours is a great reminder to a new mom that there are other things going on in the world. Not to mention, it may be the perfect way for her to unwind and relax.
Surprising a new mom with a gift certificate is a great way to entice her into enjoying some “me time” without the guilt that usually accompanies it. Especially after undergoing the whirlwind of pregnancy, quickly followed by the seemingly endless job of caring for an infant, a good pampering is an ideal way to feel normal again--not to mention beautiful.
6 Offer to Babysit
If you have the time and the inclination, a sincere babysitting offer from you may do wonders for any new mom. It will give her a chance to run out and do a couple of errands. It’ll clear a window for her to get a quick pedicure. Even if she’s reluctant to stray too far, it’ll be an opportunity for her to take a bath and grab a catnap.
It’s no skin off your nose to babysit a newborn for an hour or so, and it may be just what a new mom needs in order to recharge, refresh, and come back to the baby with a new lease on life.
5 Compliment Her Outfit
Some women leave the hospital after giving birth wearing their pre-pregnancy clothes, but for the majority of women, it takes nine months to put the weight on and it can very well take another nine to shed. The beginning of motherhood can typically be a time of wardrobe limbo for new moms. Their maternity wear no longer fits as it’s supposed to yet they still might be unable to fit into their regular clothing.
It makes sense for new mothers to keep a few maternity items such as elastic-waisted pants and longish shirts or tunics and then mix-and-match with items from their closet to keep their style vibrant and also remain comfortable.
Either way, when you see a new mom and notice she’s wearing something new or trying out a different style, compliment her. It’s difficult to muster the energy to make an effort on yourself when you have a new baby. Reward her effort by noticing it.
4 Take Her Shopping
Especially if the new mom in your life was a shopaholic during her pre-pregnancy days, she may be chomping at the bit to head out and buy a couple of new outfits now that her baby bump is headed out the door. However, I speak from personal experience when I say that sometimes some gentle nudging may be required to get a new mom to agree to some shopping when they aren’t back to their pre-pregnancy size.
As a good friend, it may be up to you to convince a new mom that buying a few staples of “for the time being” clothing doesn’t mean they have given up and reconciled themselves to never returning to their pre-pregnancy size. For most women, myself included, there is this period of limbo after giving birth where the maternity clothes hang awkwardly and your regular wardrobe is still too tight.
If you want to remain stylish while also wearing clothes that fit properly and are comfortable, a new mom may have to bite the bullet and shell out for a couple of new items. The good news is you don’t have to break the bank. A nice pair of jeans, a couple of longish tops or sweaters and anything in the forgiving and always-slimming color black will be a welcome addition to any new mother’s “for the time being” wardrobe.
Another idea for a little shopping pick-me-up is to suggest buying a new, fun pair of shoes. This may be a welcome suggestion to a new mother, especially if she’s hesitant to spend money on clothing that may no longer fit in the near future.
3 Encourage Her to Flaunt and Distract
There are so many awesome ways for women to learn to accentuate their assets and downplay their problem areas. Post-pregnancy may be the time to capitalize on the breastfeeding cleavage or show off a slender neck or emphasize long legs.
And even if in the past the new mom in question wasn’t one for accessories, that may change now that accessories can not only be stylish but also a great source of distraction and camouflage. Sometimes, a sparkly pair of earrings or chunky necklace as the main attraction is all that is required to help a woman retain some of her previous self-confidence.
So, whether you offer a new mom some guidance or just notice she has taken pains to spruce up her parental uniform of sweatpants and a spit-up-stained top, comment on her efforts and compliment her get-up.
2 Tell Her She's an Awesome Mom
A good mother can be happy. She can be sad. She can be having a great day or a pretty lousy one. She can be on top of the world or completely overwhelmed. A good mom will probably feel all of these things at one time or another--maybe even all on the same day. Remember, a new mom has just undertaken one of life’s most difficult jobs. One sincere compliment from you about how she’s handling this new role can make all the difference in the world to her.
Receiving a heartfelt compliment from someone in their life can help push the sleepless nights, the endless pile of dirty diapers, and the leaky breasts into the background . . . at least for a minute or two. Your words have the power to remind a new mom about why she went through this in the first place and how lucky she is.
When it comes to parenting, it’s easy to rush to judgment or be overly critical of someone else’s methods. But when all is said and done, a good parent is one who loves and cares for their child; one who nurtures and enjoys their child. When you notice this, comment on it. Most likely it will make her day--maybe even her year!
1 Practice Extreme Sensitivity
New moms are running on little sleep, probably not much food, and their hormones are pretty much calling the shots, so it's fair to say they may be a bit sensitive. This is why it’s important that you be extra sensitive. Be aware of what you say and how you say it. If you are going to pay a compliment, make sure it’s sincere. And don’t lay it on too thick.
If a new mom feels that you are just patronizing her, it may be more damaging to her self-esteem than just saying nothing at all. So, keep your judgments to yourself and don’t make any suggestions or offer any advice unless it is requested of you.