If there’s one thing we understand about being a new parent, we know it can be difficult to ask for help. Some may view it as a weakness, a failure, or an admittance that they’re not “good enough” to do it on your own.
That, my friends, is simply not true.
There’s a reason the expression is “it takes a village to raise a child.” That’s the reality of parenting, and it’s more than okay to ask for help when you need it. What help looks like is different for every family, every parent, and every baby. Here, we’re going to cover the most likely places you may feel you need a little extra support with your new family member, and some ways to ask for that help!
Before the baby comes, identify who your support people are and when you will need them. This includes medical providers such as your OBGYN, midwife, and your child’s future pediatrician. Some other supports you may want to identify and discuss their roles include family, friends, a postpartum doula, lactation consultant, any alternative medical or healing practitioners you may already see (such as a naturopath, for example), or mental health professionals you already work with. Postpartum Depression (PPD) occurs in up to 20% of birthing people typically within 6 weeks of childbirth. Not to mention that the absolute tidal wave of hormones you’ll experience after birth can make some pretty big changes for your physical and mental health. The more people you can have in your corner to help you through those changes, the better!
The first few weeks are the hardest… don’t be afraid to ask for help early and often! You’re adjusting to a new routine and a new role within your family. Your family is adjusting to a new member in their orbit. Your baby is adjusting to life in general, and all the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings that go with it. Even if this isn’t your first baby, it’s most likely the first time you’ve been a parent of multiple children, and that’s an adjustment in itself.
What you want to try and remember those first few weeks is that as long as everyone is healthy, safe, and cared for (including yourself!), the rest comes secondary. Making sure your baby is eating, sleeping, and filling their diaper regularly is going to feel like your first priority, but it doesn’t mean it’s the only one that matters! If you need help finishing up the dishes or doing the laundry, ask a friend or family member to come help. You can take a few minutes to just relax with your baby while they fold clothes or make dinner. Grandma can plan to come play with and watch over the older children once a week while you focus on getting some well deserved rest and new parent time – just you and your new little one. Make a routine with your partner to ensure you’re both getting built in breaks, and discuss what white flag moments look like for you as you figure them out. There is no right or wrong answer to how support looks for you and your family, especially during these first few weeks.
As your baby grows, you’ll need different types of support. Maybe your baby finally started sleeping through the night, but during the day they’ve cut back on or completely stopped napping. Therefore, you have no time during the day to take care of the things you need around the house, or maybe you haven’t gotten a minute to yourself in weeks. Asking for someone to help you with tasks during the day, such as a postpartum doula, or even hiring a housekeeper to come in and clean once a week, can take a lot of stress off of your shoulders. Not only that, but it can help keep your home feeling like a functioning space as opposed to the aftermath of a tiny hurricane coming through every day. Notice how your baby’s routines, needs, and behaviors shift, and calibrate what you need for support in order to keep up. And if you’re not sure what that shift is, ask! We’ll keep saying it – there is no right or wrong answer to what supports you need in order to parent in a way that works for you.
Remember – you are doing the best you can every day, and that is more than enough. Babies don’t remember if they cried for sixty seconds longer because you had to take a minute for yourself before tending to their needs. Babies only know that they feel safe, happy, and loved with you when you are feeling calm, steady, and supported. If you are struggling to regulate yourself, that will impact your baby, and the cycle continues. If you need a break, ask (or tell!) someone to step in and take the break. If you’re feeling like the dysregulation is more than what you think is normal, talk to your doctor, midwife, or doula. If you’re struggling to find the balance or feel like you’re alone on an island, peruse a few online support groups or join a parenting support group or meet up somewhere. We promise – you are not alone, and there are many other parents out there who are feeling the same as you. Not only does it provide validation for the things you’re going through (teething, sleep regression, my toddler acting out because of the baby – you name it!), it also gives you connections within your new community of parenthood to go to when you need support. Cast that net wide and lean in when it’s needed!
If you are curious about what a postpartum doula can do for you, take a look at our services page here, and reach out to contact us today! We’d love to hear how we can support you and your family during the fourth trimester. From infant care to sibling care, light housework and errands, meal prep and more – New Life Doulas are here for you!