Life with a newborn is pretty crazy. For you, for your partner, and for your little one! You’re all learning so much every day, taking each hour as it comes, battling sleep deprivation, maybe sneaking in a bite to eat if you remember…
Admit it, you need help.
And that’s nothing to be ashamed about.
Personally, I really don’t like asking people for things… I feel like I’m bothering them or putting them out of their way. It’s silly, I know, and this kind of mentality comes at a cost. By trying to do too much myself, it can become overwhelming, exhausting, draining.
I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by a supportive husband, family and friends who were hugely helpful particularly in those early postpartum weeks when things were toughest. And having extra helping hands made a world of difference.
Why you need help, whether or not you want to admit it
You might like to think of yourself as supermom – and maybe you kind of are. But every extra minute you get to yourself, or a particular job being delegated to someone else, is extra time for self-care or to spend bonding with your newborn.
The last thing you want is to become stressed or overly sleep deprived. These things can have flow-on effects such as making breastfeeding more difficult, slowing your physical recovery, increasing the risk of postpartum depression, putting a strain on your relationship with your partner, or even passing on stress to your little one.
Feel shy or awkward about asking for help? Or that you might be inconveniencing others? Or afraid that you’ll look like you’re not handling things well?
Realise that the help isn’t just for you.
It’s for the wellbeing of your baby.
Don’t feel like you’re being a burden on others by asking for assistance. Because in reality, any type of help benefits not only you, but also your baby (who will have a more relaxed mama!) and your husband (who is also struggling with the newness of fatherhood).
If your automatic response when someone offers help is “no”, make a conscious effort to start saying “yes”.
Who can help?
Your partner – Communication is key! Often new mums wrongly assume that their partners will know what needs doing or how they can help, but chances are they’re even more lost than you are with this new parenting experience. Set aside 10-15 minutes each day to just talk about how things are going or how you can help one another. Delegate particular tasks, or alternate certain duties – make sure you’re both on the same page about what needs to be done!
Family/relatives – Some new mums don’t have much family nearby or available to come by, whereas others are fighting off overly eager grandparents who are keen to invade your home. If you’re lucky enough to have relatives around who are willing to help out, take advantage of this! Family can be the biggest help in the postpartum weeks, and they’re probably the ones you’re closest to as well so you can feel comfortable having them around your home on a regular basis.
Friends – It’s so true that friends are the family you choose for yourself. Have catch-ups with friends at your house, and have a bit of a working bee going! Perhaps they don’t have kids of their own yet, and are still filled with that pre-motherhood energy Or maybe they’ve had their own experiences with babies already, and can give you tips, advice and recommendations as well.
Paid caregiver – If you can afford it, you can hire a postpartum doula or baby nurse to help support you and your new baby. Some just come by during the day to give a helping hand with your newborn, whereas others stay at your home 24/7 for a period of time (couple of weeks or a month) to particularly help through the night allowing recovering mothers to get better sleep.
What kind of things can you get help with?
Anything and everything!
When people (whether it’s family or friends) come over to visit, often they genuinely want to help out.
And now’s not the time to say “Oh not to worry! Everything’s fine.”
Seriously, take advantage of any offers to help. Give them something specific to do – you won’t regret it.
However, in the midst of postpartum fuzziness and sleep deprivation, it’s really helpful to have a list of things you need help with – as a quick reference whenever someone offers a helping hand. Having it written down somewhere saves the effort of trying to figure out how to let people help you.
Here are some ideas:
These are some good starting points:
- Put on/hang/take down/fold laundry
- Wash/dry/pack away dishes
- Take out the garbage
- Prepare a meal
- Pick up groceries
- Walk the dog/feed the pets
The above suggestions are particularly great for those people who would love to help but aren’t super comfortable handling babies. However, it can be really helpful to have hands-on assistance with your baby (or other kids) too.
Some suggestions for baby-related help include:
- Watch/hold your baby while you take a nap, have a shower, go for a walk or simply have “me time”. Surprisingly, sometimes this can be the biggest help someone can give! When your newborn is literally attached to you 24/7, a little bit of space can be rejuvenating.
- Take your other kids to the park or keep them occupied elsewhere (so you can spend time with your baby without having to worry about your crazy toddler)
Bigger things (warn helper in advance!):
- A night of sleep – Do you have a spare room in your house? If a grandparent or sibling of yours is willing to come over for a night and look after your baby (giving them the bottle when they wake during the night or bringing them to you for breastfeeding and settling them afterwards), this can give both you and your partner a much-deserved night of rest.
- Shopping outing – If you’re feeling up for it, a trip to the shops can be a good way of getting out of the house. Perhaps there are baby things you realised you still needed to get, or you want to treat yourself to a new outfit, or even just need to get the groceries. A helping hand to push the pram wear the carrier while you browse the aisles can be a great opportunity to feel a little more “normal” again!
- Date night – Give you and your partner an evening off by organising care for your little one while you go out for a dinner date! Go out somewhere fancy, treat yourself to a yummy dessert, reminisce on the pre-baby days
Still uncomfortable about asking for some extra help?
Just leave your to-do list lying out, such as on the kitchen bench top, or stuck up on the fridge, or on a whiteboard hanging in the hall – people are much more likely to offer to help with something when they see the list of things needing to be done!
You and your partner will figure what things you’ll want help with in your own time, because each couple has different preferences, challenges and needs.
The most important thing to remember, however, is to be kind to yourself. You’ve been through a lot giving birth to a new little human – you deserve all the help you can get!
What do you most need help with as a new mother? Any tips on how to ask for some extra help? Leave your thoughts and ideas below!