Don't ask what they need. Instead of asking new moms what they need or what they need help with, offer specific tasks. When we were in the hospital a group of our amazing friends came over and cleaned our entire house. They even scrubbed my toilets & shower. -Embarrassing. However, it was one of the BEST things they could have done for us. We came home to an amazingly clean house & a basket full of necessities like new toothbrushes, Dreft laundry detergent, hand soap & gift cards to restaurants!
Be really wise with your words & be sure what you're saying is loving. I know a lot of people mean well.. But be careful what you say to a new mama. For me, even talking about my birth used to bring me to tears because of how traumatic it was for me. So when people said things like "I had a friend who's baby was stuck too but she still delivered at home and it was a beautiful birth," can leave a new mom feeling even worse about sharing her story. So be gentle & think twice about what you're about to say to a fragile new mom.
Don't ask if you can bring your kids. OR don't NOT ask & bring them anyways. (Obviously there are exceptions for close family) I always felt trapped whenever anyone asked me this. With Elle being so new, I really preferred that other children not be around her until she had time to get some of my immunities.
Stop with the advice. I promise, if we have questions, we will ask. When we posted that our baby slept 8 hours last night (fist pump!) we aren't looking to start WWIII about all the different sleep techniques and what you did. Chances are we have a very close group of people we trust & are able to ask our most ridiculous questions to. So please, unless we ask, don't be so quick to tell us how to parent.
Don't make it about you. I know this one is tough. You hear a new mom telling her story or what's she's struggling with & you want to chime in with, "oh when I had my baby..." Or " that is rough but you should hear so & so's story..." As new mom's we need to be heard and if we're vulnerable enough to openly talk about this stuff with you, take the opportunity to encourage us, not turn the story around on yourself.
With that said .. DO relate! When a new mom says she feels terrible because she let my baby sleep & didn't wake her to feed her or she accidentally dropped her phone on her baby's little head while trying to nurse & scroll through facebook (I don't think it's important to know if I did this or not), it's perfectly acceptable to then divulge that you too did those same exact things & she has nothing to worry about and she's a great mom! My sister was my BIGGEST encourager with this and I will be forever grateful.
Don't assume. I had so many people say things like "don't you just feel_____ or aren't you just so _____. I recently read this article about how when we don't really ask a question but pretend we already know the answer, it makes people feel like they can't be honest. Instead she suggests asking things like, how are you doing? Instead of "isn't being a mommy just the best thing in the whole world?" This can leave a new mom feeling like something is wrong with them if they just haven't gotten the hang of things yet & aren't really sure how they feel about this new little creature who is constantly attached to one of of their nipples.
New moms, old moms, all the moms... Anything to add???