Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Things Your Church Can Do For New Moms

  • Meg Gemelli Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
10 Things Your Church Can Do For New Moms

My screaming two-week-old finally succumbed to sleep. I glance at the clock, dim numbers taunting me from the changing table. 3 am. What time does the sun rise again? As the glider creaks in repetition beneath me, I’m convinced of one harsh reality: I’m the only person still awake on the entire planet. That’s how it feels.

I’d let myself cry if it didn’t mean waking the baby and going through the entire thing again. Until then, no pity parties. I haven’t slept in my own bed in a week and my husband has to go to work in a few hours. There’s no reason to interrupt his rest as I crawl in and out of the covers multiple times each night. At least one of us should be able to string a coherent sentence together tomorrow…

If you’re a parent, you can relate to this story on so many levels. Depletion. Isolation. Sleepy hallucination. And while some can admit that our babies are great sleepers, there are other challenges we all go through as new parents. Bringing life into the world isn’t for the faint of heart, and doing it well requires a community.

Here are 10 ways your church can help new moms:

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Digital Vision.

  • 1. Connect us to other moms.

    1. Connect us to other moms.

    Slide 1 of 10

    Are “diaper-deposits” supposed to be that color? Is feeding my baby always going to hurt like this? Is it normal that I fall asleep at the stove making dinner every night? Why is my husband acting that way? Is it okay to feel in love, checked out, emotional, stressed, and angry, all at the same time? How long does that last?

    Families are more transient than ever before. Moms and dads are transferred for work, military service, and for various other reasons. While some of us are rooted near support networks like family and lifelong friends, others of us are forced to create new bonds as we raise our families. 

    It’s a gift and a necessity to have seasoned women ready and available to those of us transitioning into motherhood. Small groups, one-on-one mentoring, and mother’s gatherings—the options vary, but the relationships are more important than we could ever imagine.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/moodboard

  • 1. Connect us to other moms.

    2. Give us a break.

    Slide 2 of 10

    When my family moved to our current city, my son was just eight weeks old. We had a few acquaintances, but there was no family, babysitter, or close friend to help with childcare. I toted him along to every follow-up doctor’s appointment, haircut, and meeting until we felt comfortable asking for help. It took us a long time to develop those relationships… years.

    A friend recently shared that her church hosts “Mom’s Morning Off” every Monday. Any mother who attends service on Sunday is eligible to take advantage of the childcare each week. Gone are the awkward doctors visits and the meltdowns while Christmas shopping. 

    Any church with willing volunteers and a kids area can follow suit. Thoughtful childcare benefits both mother and child. Most of all, it models Christ-like service and understanding for such a special, yet challenging, time of life.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. Connect us to other moms.

    3. Cook for us.

    Slide 3 of 10

    We have to hand it to you church, creative food prep and potluck gatherings highlight some of your very best work. Those breakfast casseroles? A hole-in-one. The pinwheel sandwiches? Delicious! 

    After serving as milkmaids every few hours for the better part of our days and nights, the last thing we want to think about is what to prepare our families for dinner. It’s natural for our spouses and other family members to feel neglected. Our attention gets turned to the demanding little person screaming for his next meal. It’s also normal for our spouses to pick up the slack in our absence. 

    That being said, we know you appreciate the timeliness of our sweet baby’s cuddles. It’ll be gone before we know it, so whether it’s a restaurant gift card, a store-bought pizza, or a homemade meal, we welcome and appreciate your gift. Every minute not spent in the kitchen is one more we can enjoy as a new family. 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Highwaystarz-Photography

  • 1. Connect us to other moms.

    4. Make sure to include us in small groups, Bible studies, and volunteer activities.

    Slide 4 of 10

    Regardless of the changes, joys, and stress associated with new motherhood, Moms need to experience some semblance of normalcy. Although we might give up activities that we used to love to adopt new ones, many of us would like to continue being involved. 

    When gatherings are scheduled primarily in the evening, it can be tough for moms to break away from bedtime routines, dinnertime, and our own opportunities to rest. Likewise, moms who return to the office or other type of workplace may have trouble making time for groups or volunteering during the 9-5.

    Women add to the robust gifts and talents of the church. Please help us to find ways to serve and study the Word as our families grow, regardless of whether we work inside or outside of the home. 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/digitalskillet

  • 1. Connect us to other moms.

    5. Give us a place to retreat with our baby if necessary.

    Slide 5 of 10

    Babies cry, they eat (what seems like constantly), and go through at least a zillion diapers a day. We all know this subconsciously, but not all of us understand what it’s like to muscle a onesie back on a moaning, writhing child—silently and in the middle of a sermon. Spoiler alert: It’s not a pretty sight and it smells downright rotten. In fact, it could be an Olympic event. 

    We don’t want to be relegated to the hallway or bathroom during the inconvenient moments of motherhood, but we’re also not comfortable disturbing everybody else during service. If space allows, please set aside a mother’s room where we can sit down. We know that it may not be possible for all buildings, but some churches even provide a video monitor so that we don’t have to miss out on the message. 

    Stock the shelves with emergency diapers, wipes, and creams, because one of the kindest gifts we can give to a new mother is a private place get away when life gets stinky and loud.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/monkeybusinessimages

  • 1. Connect us to other moms.

    6. Plan opportunities for us to be women and wives first, and mothers second.

    Slide 6 of 10

    I went a year before having a haircut after my first baby. I also wore maternity clothes off and on for the next two. (Hey, at least some of them were cute.) Nails painted? Wasn’t important. Date night with my husband? We paid dearly for dinner and a sitter. I never expected the “new normal” to be glamorous, but I also didn’t realize that it would be as isolating as it was. 

    The church has the unique opportunity to plan adult events with the option of providing childcare. Few businesses, companies, and even gyms do that. If there’s any group of people who understand the sanity gifted by adult conversation, it’s a church filled with parents. Spend time planning events that involve women and couples having fun with each other, apart from their kids. This is how marriages remain intact and mothers manage not to run away with the circus. 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. Connect us to other moms.

    7. Throw a baby shower.

    Slide 7 of 10

    In 2008 I walked into a small group party, realizing that I’d forgotten to buy a gift. I was new in town and couldn’t remember being asked to bring supplies. We’d moved to Atlanta a month prior, so I didn’t know anybody well enough to anticipate birthdays, anniversaries, and the like. I felt terrible for a quick minute, but then my jaw dropped. The party was for me. 

    With no family within a 12-hour drive and a quickly approaching due date, I needed help. That baby shower was a big deal. Stress was lifted for my husband, as he realized that I had women who could help me while he was at work. The loneliness waned as we allowed the church to care for us. My group didn’t ask; they jumped into action as they saw need. We can all be inspired by their example.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/monkeybusinessimages

  • 1. Connect us to other moms.

    8. Provide a safe place for our babies.

    Slide 8 of 10

    One of the worst feelings a mother can experience is the anxiety of dropping her child off for the first time. This is especially true for first time moms. The worry can become so all-consuming that parents don’t enjoy worship or connect to the sermon.

    Churches can provide excellent childcare, just by: 

    1. Providing parents with tours of the kids’ area and giving directions for drop-off and pick-up. 
    2. Communicating to parents about the selection and vetting of caregivers. 
    3. Remaining consistent week to week, with familiar leaders and volunteers. 

    Securing the check in area and describing how they contact parents should any need arise during service. 

    Some churches either provide childcare for small groups, or they reimburse the payment of a babysitter for at-home Bible studies. Consistent, excellent childcare is like an oxygen mask to new parents.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Jupiterimages

  • 1. Connect us to other moms.

    9. Teach us how to be great mothers.

    Slide 9 of 10

    We’ve read every book and blog known to women. We have birth plans, peaceful music, educational toys, and friends who’ve given us great (and not-so great) advice about motherhood. We think we’re ready, until we realize that we don’t know a single thing about our own babies. We also don’t know how we’re going to function on less sleep, with different eating patterns, and in a house filled with company. 

    Though every family functions differently from the next, the Word contains brilliant tips for raising kids. Regardless of each generation’s trends for motherhood—breastfeeding, sleep training, exercise, and rest—motherhood basics never go out of style. We need the church to send Titus 2 women to save us from our Google-searching selves. We need people by our side.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. Connect us to other moms.

    10. Be prepared for our needs.

    Slide 10 of 10

    The beautiful truth about the church is that, amongst the entire body, there’s an incredible wealth of knowledge and resources. We worship alongside men and women of all different ages, backgrounds, occupations, and connections. New moms in our midst have access to help that we’re not always aware of, but rest assured, somebody in our church probably is.

    With a little time and effort, basic supplies, and a list of community resources, care volunteers can be equipped and put to good use serving families. Possible contacts include:

    1. Pediatricians and/or OBGYN practices
    2. Nursing/lactation consultants
    3. Long-term and drop-in childcare options
    4. Social services–housing, food, and clothing assistance, etc.
    5. Care team/prayer volunteers for families at the hospital
    6. Small groups/Bible studies/and church-run childcare for moms

    Our local churches are probably caring for women in their own unique ways already, so keep it up! At such a special time of life, new moms will never forget our love and care.

    “…for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48)

     

    Meg Gemelli is a wife. Mom. Writer. Accidental Speaker. Marriage and Family Therapist. Crossfitter and Total Book Nerd. Join conversations on faith, family, and health at www.TheGrittyPearl.com.

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/santypan