Recently, I was meeting with an expectant couple. They were taking my childbirth education series, and I was teaching the material on preparing for postpartum.
I pulled up this image, and I reminded them that it’s incredibly important to ask for what they need as they adjust to life with their newborn.
Our culture tells us that after six weeks postpartum, life should resume as normal. Moms are often expected to head back to work, assume normal household duties and responsibilities and be able to juggle all that they used to do. But this is so unrealistic, especially in the case of surgical birth or other complications. These expectations, if unrealized, can cause new moms to feel guilty that their new normal doesn’t look or feel like like they think it should—or worse, that other well-meaning relatives, friends, or strangers think it should. If they are already in an unstable emotional state, moms find themselves in an even deeper abyss of feeling guilty and sad at their "failings."
Listen up, Moms. Having a newborn is so tough. It’s wonderful in many ways, yes. But it’s also incredibly draining - physically, mentally and emotionally. Life as you once knew it is has ceased to exist and it's been replaced with a new life wherein this totally dependent little person needs and depends on you 24/7. It's demanding in every way, and it's exhausting.
I want to remind you that it's okay to ask for help. It's okay to tell people you don't want visitors today. It's okay to accept meals and/or help from friends and family, and it's okay to NOT be okay.
If you are expecting a baby soon, have postpartum support in place BEFORE baby arrives. Ask a good friend or close family member to set up meals for you when the time comes. Know who you can ask for support and help. Inquire about support groups if you are planning to breastfeed (and attend a group/meeting ahead of time!). Look into hiring a postpartum doula or at the very least, have a couple names/numbers on hand that you can call if the need arises. Finally, if someone offers to help, accept it. You'll be glad you did.
The next time someone asks if you need anything, accept the help, even if it seems a small thing. You might be amazed at how freeing it feels to say, "Yes."
Happi loves serving families in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago as a labor doula and childbirth educator. When she's not at a birth, she loves spending time her husband and three boys.