My eyes filled with tears the first time I saw the ultrasound of my future niece arrive in my inbox. I wasn’t a mom yet, but I remember the joy I felt for my brother and his wife so well. It was intense.

I couldn’t wait to snuggle that little girl in my arms. I felt eager to see my brother become the fabulous father that I knew he’d become. But first, it was time to spoil that mother-to-be. (Turns out, it was a wonderful way to bond with my sister-in-law, too.)

Now that I’m fresh into motherhood myself (Baby Niklas is 1 1/2, hardly a baby!), I want to share some presents I’ve given, gifts I’ve received, and items that I think an expecting mother would love to receive. It’s a very precious time in her life. Celebrate the journey that mother-to-be and her partner are preparing for.

The depth of joy and gratitude that comes from these gestures is immeasurable – well worth the small moments of your day.

  1. Write the future baby a quick letter, telling him what incredible people you think his parents are. Say how lucky he is and how you can’t wait to meet him. Mail this with a little gift.
  2. Ask her about a big purchase she’d love to have for the baby, and help her buy it. I really wanted a wooden rocking chair that was a little outside of our budget. My sister surprised us with a check that specifically said: for that fabulous rocking chair. I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to get that chair without her kindness.
  3. Send her a card. Just because she’s beautiful and awesome, and you want to tell her that.
  4. Provide her with some free babysitting vouchers. My husband and I aren’t ones to ask for help if we think we can do things ourselves. Those little vouchers? They’re a subtle message, reminding a new mom to ask you for help. It’s you saying, “I’m here for you.”
  5. Give her a baby book. I designed this Gadanke baby journal with the busy, expectant mama in mind. You can fold the journal flat, and jot down quick notes in response to the fun writing prompts when time is limited. The ring closures make it simple to tuck in treasured mementos.
  6. Surprise her with a pedicure or massage–the DIY kind or something professional.
  7. Take her and her partner out for dinner or invite them to dinner at your home. We still remember the couples that treated us to dinner. We didn’t have to worry about lining up a baby sitter or getting home at a certain time. Eating with friends isn’t just about the food (which any pregnant lady will eat a ton of!). It’s about the company – lingering pre-baby moments she’ll cherish.
  8. Respect her. Don’t push for baby names or start lecturing on what she should or shouldn’t be doing. It’s no fun.
  9. Send her a link to this Argentina Coke ad on YouTube. Yes, we’ve all seen it a few times. And we still keep smiling every time, too, right?!
  10. Throw her a baby shower! You can make the event into something grand, or it can be as quiet as a few of you going out to lunch. Make her feel celebrated.
  11. Let her know she’s not alone and that she’s doing a great job.
  12. Give her a spot in this pregnancy journaling eCourse.
  13. Take some pregnancy photos of her and her partner. When I was seven months pregnant, I just figured my husband could snap a few photos of me in the mountains. But then Lauren Zurich called. She was coming through town and wanted to give us the gift of portraits. (One is pictured above.) We fell more in love with our baby in that short hour than ever before. I still have that picture framed at my desk.
  14. Mow the lawn or shovel the walk. Take her older kids out to run around and have fun. Her energy needs to go toward baby growing.
  15. Don’t tell her how huge she looks … even if she’s your sister. Especially if she’s your sister!

Oh, if you’re looking for ideas to help parents deep in the trenches of newborn life, here are 16 beautiful ideas.