I was among the first of my friends to get married and have a baby. When I was expecting Sunshine, my college girlfriends threw me a lovely baby shower. I admired the adorable baby blankets, onesies, books and toys they picked, and packed them neatly away, feeling ready for baby’s arrival. After Sunshine’s birth, one of my good friends dropped by to visit. I asked her to hold Sunshine while I switched a load of laundry over and otherwise, despite my exhaustion, we just chatted.
Recently, she had her first baby. When I called her a few weeks after her baby’s birth (to give her time to recover), she said, “Bonnie, I’m sorry. I had no idea what you needed back then!” I laughed and said, “That’s okay. I didn’t know what I needed then either.” And then I added, “But now I do know what you need, and I’m too far away to help!” I had sent her a set of Mother Load bags and a toy for the baby, but what I really wanted to do was take a meal to her.
After Sunshine’s birth, one couple whom my husband knew offered to drop off a meal for us. They had two kids already and a few nights after Sunshine’s birth, they came by our apartment with a hot chicken casserole. We invited them in to eat with us, but they refused, saying “congratulations” and leaving. We sat down to eat our meal together, a bit puzzled that they would just leave food for us and go, but it was nice to not cook that night.
When Lily was born, we had moved twice and had no community nearby. My mother-in-law dropped in to help when she could, but otherwise we were on our own with a new baby and a toddler. I remember days of exhaustion as I struggled to balance the needs of my two daughters, until we finally packed up our place and moved in with my in-laws for several weeks before moving all the way out the Island.
Hours after Jade was born, my cousin stopped by to say “congratulations” and leave us some baking she had done. That night, my other cousin came over with a casserole dish she had made. My brother-in-law and his wife brought over a roast chicken and French bread for us. Other friends showered us with food so that for the first week after Jade’s birth, I didn’t have to cook. It was amazing. For the first time, I understood what it meant to have community around me after a baby’s birth. I understood the gesture that my husband’s friends had made when Sunshine was born.
If you know someone who is having a new baby, the biggest blessings you can give her is to cook a meal for her after the baby comes. Here in Vancouver, I’m blessed to once again be part of a great community of moms. We’ve had a bit of a baby boom this summer and fall and one mom is always organizing a meal train for the mom who has just delivered. Several times, I’ve cooked double batches of whatever I’m making for our family, so I have enough food to take to the family who just had a baby.
Tips for Making Meals for New Mamas
If the new mom has a freezer, you could plan a “meal shower” for her before the baby arrives. Everyone could come to the shower with a casserole dish or meal for the freezer. For ideas, check out 25 Surprisingly Easy and Delicious Freezer Meals for New Moms or 17 Easy and Delicious Freezer Meals. Or simply make double of whatever you’re making for your family, as I mentioned, and freeze half of it for the other family. It’s just as easy to make one lasagna or pot of soup as two!
If the new mom doesn’t have a freezer, organize a “meal train” for her after the baby arrives. One person coordinates who is bringing what meals to the new parents, and communicates with meal-bringers about food allergies and preferences. An easy way to manage this is to use websites like Sign-up Genius. The new mom or a friend can set up the form and send an invite out to a group of local friends, who can then sign up for the day that works for them to drop off a meal. The new mom can also see what nights someone is bringing food for her.
If bringing meals is inconvenient or difficult, shower the new mom with gift cards instead, to be used to buy meals after the baby arrives. Find out what the family’s favourite local take-out places are and buy gift cards to those restaurants. Or check out what grocery stories are conveniently located to either the family home or the dad’s place of work; most grocery stores have ready-to-grab meals like baked chicken, soups and stews, potato salads, bread or buns, etc. Or dad could just grab something like frozen pizzas or chicken nuggets to throw in the oven when he gets home. Cash cards also work to pay for takeout meals.
If you’d rather bake than cook, that’s great too! Baking is always nice to have around the home after a new baby too. Muffins and quick breads make for great breakfast or snack ideas and bread or buns can supplement any meal and make leftovers stretch further.
Have you been the recipient of meals after having a baby? Or do you have a favourite recipe that you make to take to a new mom?