Nothing prepares a first time mom for the madness that ensues after a baby is born. And sometimes the kind of postpartum help you need may not be as helpful as you’d expect.
Take a look at some of the ways your family and friends can help the most:
How to get postpartum help
1. Differentiate between visitors and helpers.
Most people come over to visit, and that may suit your needs and personality. If you’re alone, a regular conversation with a good friend can break up the blues.
But you may also want or need helpers, not visitors. My husband and I treated people as visitors, whom we appreciated, but left us feeling drained. We thought that when people come over, we entertain.
Rather than sleeping, eating or showering while they cooed over the baby, we talked to our guests. Fun indeed, but we could have cashed in on some precious babysitting time.
2. Space out your visitors and helpers.
All our family came on the weekends. This time around, I’ll ask them to stagger visiting days so we don’t get overwhelmed with too many folks. We can also maximize the help we could use.
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3. Be specific with the kind of postpartum help you need.
Most people want to help but may not know how. Rather than relying on, “If you need help, let me know,” phrase, make a list of tasks you’d like help with.
The first time around, I assumed I shouldn’t ask and just appreciate what other did. But now I realize that giving birth gives you the leeway to whip up a task list for friends and family.
Your list can include things like:
- bringing meals
- washing the kids’ laundry
- loading and unloading the dishwasher
- watering the plants
4. Don’t be shy about asking for postpartum help.
The time to shed the social cues that keep you from asking for help is right when you’ve given birth. People want to help and may even appreciate having a task rather than wondering what you need.
5. Be creative with different ways people can help.
Bless my sister who offered two of the most amazing ways anyone can help a postpartum mom. First, she offered to lend us any of her DVDs and tapes, even asking what genres we prefer (comedy!).
Second, she gave us a call and asked, “I’m at the grocery—do you need anything?” Postpartum help can include unique requests, from entertainment to random errands.
6. Ask for the kind of help that allows you to bond with your baby.
When people come to visit, no doubt they’re excited to meet the newest member of the bunch. But they’re also here for you. They can do the dishes while you’re snuggling with the baby in your room.
It may seem odd to assign tasks to your guests while you and your baby get to know each other. But this early bonding helps moms learn more about their babies and enjoy new motherhood.
7. Friends and family make great babysitters—for your older kids or the new baby.
With this second pregnancy, I’ll have to balance my preschooler’s needs with my twins and my own.
Visitors can help by taking your older kids on a fun outing or giving you time to relax with the baby. They can also stay with the baby so you can spend much-needed bonding time with the older kids.
Getting the right help you need after the baby arrives is crucial. Space out your helpers and be specific with the help you need. Ask them to help around the house so you can bond with the baby. And they can spend time with your older children, giving you a much-needed break.
We all rely on our villages for postpartum help to get us through the early challenges of parenthood.
Get more tips about the newborn days:
- How to Get Things Done with a Baby
- Newborn Care Tips and Tricks for New Moms You’ll Be Glad You Read
- What to Do when Your Baby Needs to Be Entertained Constantly
- “Help! My Newborn Only Sleeps when Held.”
- How to Stay Calm when Your Baby Won’t Nap
What are the biggest challenges you anticipate after giving birth?
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