In the first days after giving birth, it seems like everybody and their brother is suddenly your BFF. They want to come over and bring a meal, catch up on old times, bring a gift for the baby, etc. When in reality, all they REALLY want to do is cuddle your new baby.
On one hand, can you blame them? You just made the world’s most perfect baby and you’re pretty proud of your accomplishments.
On the other hand, if you’re anything like me you were either secretly wishing they’d leave you the hell alone or they’d come and baby you for a little while. After all, you’re the one whose body just went through the wringer to birth that baby.
But, when those well-intentioned friends and family leave for good and you are the one primarily responsible for keeping that beautiful tiny human alive, how do YOU get the support you need?
The first step is setting aside any expectations you have of yourself to “do it all.” This was the HARDEST thing for me to accept. During both of my postpartum phases, I had it in my head that I had to be Super Mom and do it all. I had to keep the house spotless, the baby content all the time and I had to keep up with all of my pre-baby activities. Whether that was going to Target 3x a week, meal prepping, or just walking around the block I thought I HAD to do it.
And, I thought I had to do it all myself. I didn’t want to impose on anyone. I was afraid to ask for help because I was certain they would think that I couldn’t handle this whole motherhood gig.
NO. NO. NO.
This is your time to rest and recover. Your body just spent 9+ months growing that tiny human and your body just went through a lot of physical stress to bring that baby into the world.
As a mom to two small kids who didn’t honor her postpartum period, please let me help you. I promise that you need support during this transition. The birth of your baby brings excitement and new challenges, especially as you recover physically and settle into a new routine. This postpartum or “after birth” adjustment usually takes months – not weeks – for most new moms.
There are some steps you can take to support yourself during this period:
If someone offers to bring a meal, let them bring a meal. Trying to cook a full dinner during the early days postpartum can be super stressful, especially if your new baby is crying while your trying to prep dinner.
Suggest that friends who want to bring a meal sign up for a meal train online. This will allow your friends and family to schedule what they are bringing and when. You can even note special diets, requests or other information in the notes on your unique page.
If someone is insistent upon coming over to help, let them help. Let them wash the dishes, mop the floor or even snuggle the baby while you shower or nap.
Sleep When Baby Sleeps
Speaking of naps, this may sound like eye roll worthy information, but it’s oh so valuable. In the very early weeks postpartum, babies sleep a lot. They will sleep an average of 16-17 hours per day, but that’s broken up into short bursts of 2-4 hours of rest at any given time.
They haven’t quite figured out that they are supposed sleep for longer periods at night, and that leaves mamas (and their partners) pretty darn exhausted during the day.
So when baby falls asleep during the day, leave that load of laundry where it is right now. Forget about scrolling through social media for an hour. Don’t worry about the dishes. Go lie down on the bed and close your eyes for a few moments.
Have older kids? Me too. I wasn’t able to catch up on my zzzz’s at every turn with my youngest. I had an older toddler to occupy. Luckily, he was still taking an afternoon nap so I could get the baby down and then nap with the toddler for a few moments while the newborn napped too.
Is this realistic every day? Most likely, no. But, whenever you get the opportunity to rest and relax during the early days postpartum, do it. Your body will appreciate it and you will feel more relaxed and ready to tackle your to-do list.
Seek Out A Mentor
Sometimes we just need comforting advice from someone who’s walked the same road we’re currently on. We need to hear from someone who’s been there and understands what we’re going through as a new mom.
The ideal person is someone who’s maybe a few steps ahead of you in the parenting world. Now, that’s not to say that your mom or grandmother won’t have great advice, but you’re more likely to be able to relate to someone who has recently dealt with an inconsolable newborn or is knowledgeable about all of the baby gear and accessories of this decade.
If you don’t already have a trusted friend or family member, you can search online for groups in your area. You can find many groups through Facebook, your place of worship or even the packet of paperwork they sent home with you when you were discharged from the hospital. (That’s how I got connected to my first support group).
Reaching out to a new person or group of people can be intimidating, especially as a new mom. It was quite scary for me to walk into my first meeting at our local Babywearing International chapter. I was a first-time mom with a teeny, tiny baby and no clue how to use my baby carriers or how to even interact with other moms. But, I am so glad that I did took that leap of faith. The mentors were so welcoming and non-judgmental. I met numerous new friends and mentors through that group and it also empowered me to seek out other groups as well.
While it does feel great to be showered with the attention of friends and family, it can also be mentally and physically taxing in the early days. If people are showing up unexpectedly or at times when you’d rather just sleep, then you can either A ) let them come over so you can do some of the suggestions above (sleep, shower, connect with other moms, etc.) or B) politely ask them to reschedule.
It is your house, your baby and your new life. Feel free to set a schedule of when you want company and when you’d prefer to be alone. Most people are understanding and will respect that boundary. If not, feel free to get one of those mentor moms to be your fall guy. We’d be more than happy to help you tell Aunt Sally to just chill for a minute.
Remember Your A Good Mom
Some days it can be a struggle to remember that you are doing the best you can every single day. As a mom, I too have struggled with confidence in my parenting and sometimes struggled to get the support I needed postpartum.
I’d like to leave you with a free set of printable affirmations for motherhood. These short words of encouragement are great reminders to help you shift your mindset on those less than perfect days. They are also a great way to start each day on a positive note. By using affirmations or mantras, you can rewire your brain to focus on the good.
Grab your copy HERE