By Olivia Hinebaugh
A lot of new moms feel like they could use more help in those first few weeks. I wish I had thought about who I might need or want to talk to in those emotional, sleepy, overwhelming days.
Bottom line: you deserve and need help.
And you may need help in areas you hadn’t considered. Here are some roles you should try to enlist your friends and family to fill.
Your partner. If you have a partner in life and parenthood, you are obviously going to be leaning on them a lot during this time. Communicate with them. Tell them when you are at the end of your rope and you need ten minutes to shower. Tell them you want some time to just lie in bed with your baby.
Someone with which to discuss your birth. You’ll be amazed at how much you want to talk about and process your birth experience. You may feel proud or disappointed or overwhelmed or happy, but one thing is for sure: the birth process changes so much about your life. Poll your friends ahead of time. Know who won’t mind talking episiotomy or hemorrhoids or your water breaking or the intense sensation of crowning or the fear at having an unplanned c-section.
A breastfeeding buddy. Find another mama who has breastfed or is breastfeeding. If you don’t know anyone, check out your local La Leche League. They highly encourage expectant parents to come to their meetings. It’s nice to have someone who has been there. It’s even better if they can look at your latch or nurse in public with you.
Someone who is awake at night. You might be up in the middle of the night. You might want to call someone. It’s great if you have friends abroad who will be available to talk while you rock your new babe. Or maybe you have a great friend who doesn’t mind being woken.
Help around the house. Some of your friends may not know how to help. If you feel comfortable, let them know ahead of time, that you’d love help with laundry or cooking or dishes or vacuuming.
A non-baby focused friend. Of course, you want to talk about your birth and your baby and all things motherhood, but you may be dying to talk about something ELSE. Have someone on speed-dial who can fill you in on celeb gossip or discuss the netflix shows you’ve been binging on.
A Doula. If you can afford it, postpartum doulas can be a great way to get the support you need. They can easily fill in any of the roles above. They are also up to date on all the resources that are out there, such as mothers’ support groups, help for postpartum depression, lactation consultants etc. Even if you don’t end up hiring one, many have resource lists on their websites (as do birth doulas). Have these kinds of sites bookmarked ahead of time. (Such as Kellymom. I know I went there with every single breastfeeding question I had in the middle of the night.) Search for doulas here.
Enlist these people ahead of time. Put their numbers in your phone or on the fridge. If you are having a baby shower, ask your host to help. There are great websites out there such as meal train that will help you to coordinate visitors.
When my sister-in-law was expecting her second son, she didn’t need many clothes or baby items, so instead she asked people to volunteer to make meals for her family in those first few weeks.
My advice is to be upfront that you are hoping for help. I made a mistake in not asking for much help after the birth of my daughter. I think people assumed because I had done it before, I was covered. In truth, I was more overwhelmed because I had a busy three-year-old in addition to the new baby. I assumed I’d get as much if not more help than I had with my first. But I should have asked. I should have let people know what I needed when I needed it.
I’ll say it again: you deserve help and you should feel perfectly comfortable letting people know what you need. Think about these things before you give birth, so you can focus on your baby afterward.
And once you’ve lived through the amazing transformation into motherhood, remember all the things you needed and share your time and skills with other new mothers. We’re all in this together.
Olivia Hinebaugh is a stay-at-home-mom to a three-year-old boy and baby girl. She is an aspiring novelist and steals time whenever both kids are sleeping to clack away at the keys. She tweets about mothering and writing @OliveJuiceLots
She can also be found on Facebook.
Photos by Lauren Preti.