New mothers can feel quite fragile for some time after the birth of their child, although many are pleasantly surprised by their rapid recovery. This is a time when you shouldn’t have to move mountains or prove how spectacularly you can perform. A new’ mother is entitled to take time out from the day-to-day world to rest and enjoy her baby, and other people need to pamper, respect and help her to do this. If a mother can be physically and emotionally supported for the first few weeks, when demands are high and many adjustments are taking place, she will find she has more to give. It will then be easier for her to care for her baby and things will go well.

A friend of ours has this wonderful saying: ‘Visitors are fair game.’ Anyone who is lovingly involved enough to want to see the new baby and mother, or who simply has the temerity to visit at such a special time, can be pressed into service. They can be asked to wash up, vacuum, make a bed, chop vegetables, prepare cups of tea and snacks, turn on the washing machine and hang out clothes, hold the baby, talk to the mother, go to the shop or anything else which makes the mother’s life easier.

We know of a family who had twins and were in real trouble handling the workload. A friend circulated a list, asking other friends to put their names down to give cash, food or time. If you are shy, put up a big list in clear view of the front door. Entitle it: ‘Ways you can help.’ Your friends will feel pleased at being able to help out in a practical way.

During a recent high-stress time for our family, our friend Claudette began preparing and delivering an evening meal to our house once a week. She also picked up the empty crockery next day without even stopping to make conversation. It was a priceless contribution to our well-being — the casserole that saved the camel’s back!