Ah pregnancy. The pending arrival intrigues and excites most friends and family members. You may have received extra attention, special care and an interest in how you and baby are doing. Your days have been spent planning for your upcoming birth. Countless hours have been spent perfecting your birth plan, registering for just the right baby gear, playing Hypnobabies tracks into the wee hours of pregnancy insomnia and attending those fabulous weekly prenatal yoga classes. As the big day arrives, the joy surrounding the birth of your sweet baby is shared throughout your close (and not so close) circle...with congratulations texts and Facebook posts flooding your inbox.
A few days, maybe a week pass and you realize you are home... all alone...with an itty bitty baby. All the fuss and support has disappeared. Nobody told you about preparing for the postpartum transition and life with a newborn.
Our society has placed new moms in place of isolation and unrealistic expectations and frankly, it's NOT okay. In many cultures, birth and motherhood is widely discussed and passed down from family members. However in current day North America; Pregnancy, birth and the postpartum stage are not topics that are widely shared on a authentic and deep level within most circles. A combination of the media and a lack vulnerability about parenthood has led to a skewed image for new moms.
Anxiety about being a perfect mother are rampant and something we see quite frequently as Postpartum Doulas. In the hustle and bustle of our urban and fast paced cities, women often feel the pressure to immediately bounce back to their pre-baby state and way of life. They try to carry on, as if bringing a whole new life into the world is no big deal and that raising an infant is a simple task that any good mother can handle with ease.
Well guess what?
It is a big deal.
It's a really big deal.
You deserve to be supported, cared for and celebrated as a new mother. We fully believe you are AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL AND STRONG. However, we also fully believe that you don't have to be those things all of the time. It's okay to be SAD, CONFUSED and UTTERLY STRESSED OUT.
Parenting is hard. Physical healing from birth is hard. The emotional roller coaster of your hormones balancing is hard. Figuring out your breast or bottle feeding relationship is hard. Waking up multiple times a night is hard. Trying to balance bonding with your newborn and providing attention to your partner or other family members is hard. Wading through the voices of advice and judgement is hard. Deciding on all the little decisions surrounding newborn care is hard. Hard doesn't mean you aren't doing it right. Motherhood is rewarding, joyous and life transforming...but you can't expect to be perfect. There is no perfect mother.
Motherhood is not meant to be done alone. Even with a loving and supportive partner or caring in law staying for the week after birth, it's important to call on the rest of your community for a helping hand or listening ear. New mamas and mamas to be: It's okay to ask for help!
Friends & Family - Help a New mama out !
(Hint: Send this to your friends & family)
Pick up or make a warm meal AND offer to hold the baby while mama eats.
Go to the grocery store and pick out or prepare healthy snacks mama can eat with one hand:
Veggie Sticks & Dip, Cubed Fruit, Protein Bars, Nuts & Seeds, Muffins, Smoothies, Wraps, etc
Siblings? Spend some one and one time with the sibling(s) at a park or playing with toys. You could also hold the sweet baby, so mama can read a book with a sibling. After a month or so, accompanying mama & siblings to a park date is a great option as well.
Laundry is something that piles up quickly in the house. Come over and put a load in and chat with mama on how she's doing while the cycle goes through. Once it's done, fold and put away or I promise you it will most likely be in the basket next time you come over.
Short showers are a luxury for most mamas. Draw a bath, adding a postpartum herbal blend or diffuse some aromatherapy and offer to care for her newborn while she takes a long, relaxing bath.
Listen. New moms are very fragile and experiencing a range of emotions and still processing. Gently open up dialogue to ask how she's doing, ask how her birth experience was, ask how the adjustment to parenthood has been, etc. Be a non judgmental, open ear for her to vocalize and process with. Sometimes they aren't ready to share and that's ok too. Support her where she's at.
Take the dog for a good run or take them to the groomers for a wash.
Unload the dishwasher and take out the trash.
Encourage her to take a long a nap while you get baby snuggles in.
Take a walk outside in the fresh air and sunshine with mama and baby.
Hire a Postpartum Doula to provide all of the above and so much more!