Anyone who has lived with a fresh-from-the-hospital newborn can tell you that it’s as hard as it is amazing. The first few weeks are almost always exhausting and overwhelming, and the key to surviving with your sanity intact is counting on some support from your friends and family. But you can’t just expect them to know what you need—it’s up to you to communicate what they can do for you and how you’d like to see it happen.
1. Know what you need
Here’s the scenario: You’re sore, you’re exhausted, you’re hormonal and you’re frazzled. This is what you need to be ready to conquer. So think about what it is that would most help you in this state—if you’re a neat freak, your main concern might be someone to help you tidy your house. If you already have kids, having a healthy meal to sit down and eat with your family every night might be just the thing to keep you going. Or of course, someone to rock the baby so you can rest is another major lifesaver. Once you’ve thought out what you need, figure out the person that is most likely to be able to help you with each task. You might have your mom hang out during the day to help with the baby, your sister-in-law bring by dinner every couple of nights, and your best friend swing by once a week to do some laundry—or you might fly your sister in to spend a couple of weeks helping you with it all. Knowing what you need is the first step toward actually getting what you need.
2. Ask for it
A lot of people find it really hard to ask for help, but immediately after giving birth definitely isn’t the time to try and take on the world. There are so many people who will be more than willing to give you a hand, but you have to reach out to them and let them know that their assistance is welcome. It’s really best if you can ask ahead of time for things, lining up family and friends to do small (or big) things to lighten your load.
But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with calling last minute and begging for a little help. There’s a silent rule among the decent moms of the world that we’ll never let another mom, particularly a new mom, suffer without doing what we can to help. If you’re desperate for a shower, don’t hesitate to ask your fellow mom neighbor to hold the baby for 15 minutes. If her kids are older, she’ll probably actually be thrilled. Of course, you also have to reach out to your partner and let him know what you need him to do. He’s probably more than willing to help, but come on, he’s a guy—he’s going to need explicit directions.
3. Feel the love
You might find help in places that you haven’t always looked for it before. If you and your mom haven’t always been close, the mere thought of a grandchild might make her completely overlook all your differences. And if your mother-in-law has been nice but not necessarily the best friend you’ve ever had, you might be surprised by how willing she is to step into that role. If you’re a single mom, it’s extra-important for you to line up some postpartum help. If you are in any groups or organizations or have some friendly co-workers, they might be willing to set up a dinner schedule, keeping you covered with tasty meals for a week or so. There’s also nothing wrong with hiring a baby nurse to come help you for a while, particularly if you’re going solo. The most important thing is to just let as many people help you as are willing. The more help you have, the better you’ll be equipped to take on motherhood and enjoy your new little guy.