It’s not easy being a new mother. Babies are peculiar little beings. They seem to eat all the time and never seem to sleep.
You may not have extended relatives nearby, and those who were ecstatic when you found out you were expecting may not be present when the baby is born.
It’s fine to seek assistance. You don’t have to feel like a wimp, inept, or weak, or that you should be able to handle everything by yourself.
Because being a parent is actually difficult, stressful, exhausting, nerve-wracking, delightful, and the most amazing thing in the world, you must ask for help and accept it when it is offered.
But how do you get the kind of help you really need?
- Let go of your guilt.
Many first-time parents, particularly mothers, find it difficult to seek support because they “think they should be able to do it all and do it well.” Unrealistic expectations and taking on too much stress your body’s ability to recuperate after birth, as well as induce stress. In those early days, focus on what counts most (breastfeeding, bonding, and getting some sleep), while letting the rest go. Just getting through the day is a victory in the first few weeks, and the greatest thing they can do to ease into motherhood is to take it easy on themselves and surround themselves with support in those early weeks.
- Seek assistance. If you live near your parents, siblings, or friends and have strong relationships with them, see if they’d be willing to assist. Spread out the help across the first few weeks so that no one gets overwhelmed, and you’ll have an extra set of hands if your partner returns to work. Many of your help may simply want to hold the baby, which is OK if you need a break from motherhood. However, you’ll probably need various types of assistance most of the time so you can bond with your infant. So that you and your child can get to know one other, be precise about what individuals can do (cooking, doing errands, doing laundry). However, be selective in who you enlist to assist you: You don’t want to interact with people who will cause you stress or drama, or who will be offended if you don’t follow their advice at this time. Consider who you get along with and who will help you rest by taking initiative around the house. Be open and honest with your spouse about your feelings so you’re both on the same page about who and what you need right now.
- Split the workload. Encourage your spouse to participate in infant care and allow him to do things his own way so that he may learn the skills and gain confidence.
- Simply say yes. People mean it when they say, “Let me know if you need anything!” Even if we could benefit from it, we appear to be conditioned to refuse it. Accept that, as self-conscious as it may feel to ask people to walk your dog or pick something up at the store, they are pleased to do something that will make your day simpler. Post a chore list on your refrigerator so that no one is left in the dark about what needs to be done.
- When assistance isn’t readily available. What if you don’t have family nearby or are expecting a child on your own? While some of these suggestions may require more planning and cost money at first, they will help you get through the frantic first few weeks:
-Ask help from your neighbors (“Would you mind trimming our lawn once or twice while we settle in?”).
-Pay for a maid service on a temporary basis.
-Make a weekly grocery delivery appointment.
-Prepare and freeze meals ahead of time.
Reach out for assistance; there is no shame in asking for assistance, and your turn will come when you are able to repay the favor!