Between a new baby and becoming a mother, we don’t always have the clarity of mind to know how to ask for help postpartum. These ideas will help you know when and how to ask for help postpartum.
“How can I help?” “What do you need?” “Let me know if you need anything.”
These are some of the most common things we hear from well-meaning friends and family after we’ve had a baby. If you’re anything like me, you have no idea how to answer that question. What I’ve found with each of the four postpartum seasons I’ve had, is that being prepared for that question is going to be the most helpful.
Reflect on What Would Actually Help
I was well into my third postpartum season before I realised what I actually needed. For me, being clean and having fresh clothes (even if they’re a new pair of clean pajamas) is a must in the first two weeks postpartum. After that, making sure I have basic necessities regularly means that I will be a better mom, wife, and person. I also make sure that whatever I do ask people to do will not make me feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. If someone offers to make me a meal, great! If they offer to clean my toilet or shower, I am a lot more hesitant about that.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What, if it went undone, would bother me to the point of heightened stress and anxiety?
- What will help me feel human? What are my basic necessities that will help me feel dignified?
- What am I comfortable letting people help with, and what do I want to do myself?
Make a List
One of the easiest ways you can know how to ask for help postpartum is by making a list of the things that need doing on a daily basis in your home. A load of laundry, washing the dishes, cooking meals–Whatever you do before baby is born, write it on the list. When people visit in your postpartum season, you can have the list hanging up somewhere visible. Have them pick what they want to do. If you laminate it, you can have them initial by the task they’ve done. That way, the next person that comes along knows what’s been done already.
Note: This handy list can also work brilliantly for holiday get togethers. Write down what needs chopped, washed, or put on a plate so that when people show up you know exactly where to direct them. This idea comes from the queen of practical, Kathi Lipp.
Set Up a Meal Train
After my last two babies, I set up a meal train for myself. Friends and family quickly filled up the first two weeks of dinners after the baby was born. This was especially helpful to my husband since he was on “full time” duty while I rested. He was so relieved when I told him he didn’t have to worry about cooking dinner, too. If you can, schedule the first 2-3 weeks around your due date. I found that people really loved helping in this way. It was tangible and easy for them to drop off the meal and keep going if they were a busy mama themselves.
Decide What Your Boundaries are Before Baby Arrives
People love babies. They love seeing them. They love
hogging holding them. That’s why it’s important to know what you’re comfortable with before the baby arrives and people start begging to visit.
Here are a few questions to think about:
- When will you be comfortable having visitors?
- What times of day do you want them to visit?
- Do you want people holding your baby? If so, do you want them to sanitize/wash their hands first? You will have to tell them!
- Do you want someone holding the baby while you shower/sleep?
- Have them make their own cuppas and get themself a cookie. While they’re in there, they can get one for you too! I was going to make this a question, but I think this is something you should just set up and have people do. I feel strongly about this one. A new mother is not there to serve the guests. You have a wound the size of a dinner plate in your stomach after having the baby. You don’t need to be up and working, at least not for a few weeks.
Bonus Holiday Postpartum Tips
Having a baby near the holidays adds a layer of complexity that you might not have any other time of year. Family coming in and out of town and expectations of get togethers will be looming over your postpartum recovery if you’ve had a baby around Thanksgiving or Christmas. Decide ahead of time whether or not you will attend any get togethers. Decide ahead of time if you’re comfortable with people holding the baby (and for how long). I always found at a large family gathering that one person would hold the baby and pass it off to someone else. It made me anxious to not know who had my baby and whether the baby was comfortable or not. Some of my babies have been perfectly happy being held by others and some of them have not wanted to be away from me. One thing that really helps if you want to keep baby close is using a wrap or carrier. People tend to look and not touch so much if you have baby attached to you.
However you decide to ask for help postpartum, thinking of what you need ahead of time is going to be key in having an answer when people start asking what they can do to help.