Our modern lifestyle, with the help of Facebook and FaceTime, makes us feel close and connected to our long-distance families. But once the baby arrives, we often realize technology cannot replace a physical pair of hands, or a shoulder to lean on.
It does take a village to raise a child. Yet, our village no longer exists with our elders either working through their retirement years or often retiring in another state or country. Over time we have convinced ourselves that we can do it alone. However, overexertion after birth can increase the risk of postpartum depression, infection, uterine bleeding or prolapse.
What we have forgotten is that the postpartum period is a time of transition - both physically and mentally. A time where we need to do less to accomplish more in the long run.
As any seasoned parent will tell you, parenting is a marathon, not a sprint!
Tip #1 - Plan on Getting Help
Help may come from family members, friends or someone you need to hire on a temporary basis, or even a combination above. The key to having the right support structure is having a realistic understanding of what kind of help you need and who will be responsible for each task.
These responsibilities include:
- Baby care – who can help feed, change, clean and soothe the newborn?
- Food shopping and cooking – do you want meals prepped and cooked daily or are expecting to reheat prepared meals?
- Cleaning and laundry – who is willing to help from light tidying to toilet scrubbing; do you want baby clothes to be laundered separately or washed with your clothes?
- Night baby and toddler care – do you want the baby to be bottle-fed or brought to you for nursing?
- Childcare (if you have older children) – who can drop off/pick up and play with your other children? Can they also prepare their meals and bathe them if needed?
Here are some questions to discuss with your partner about getting the right amount of help and a schedule that is right for your family.
1. What needs to be done?
2. How often do these things need to be done?
3. What can you manage and what do you need help with?
4. Who is willing and has vocally agreed to help you with these specific tasks?
5. What remaining items can you outsource?
If asking friends and family for help, be realistic about what each person is willing to help you with. If your mom is not the type to clean your family bathroom, hired a cleaner. If waking up throughout the night will leave your mother-in-law exhausted the next day so that you will need to tend to her, get a night nurse. This will ensure you get the exact help you need while still maintaining your relationships with friends and family members.
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Stay tuned for our next tip on Eating Mindfully.