By Jeana Lee Tahnk
I'm a pretty independent, "I can do it myself" person, but witheach progressive pregnancy and newborn stage, I have come to appreciateand embrace the help I receive. Hopefully you have a very supportivenetwork of friends and family who are more than eager to help out. Thebest piece of advice I can give to new moms is to accept the help.Accept it!
The people around you are offering their help because they want tomake things easier, even just a little bit. Having the time in thosetough early months to shower, rest and sleep can go a long way inimproving your outlook and disposition. It's amazing how difficult itcan be to find time to shower when you have a baby, but those 10 minutesalone in a nice, hot shower can do wonders.
Here are some other ways you can accept help, and help yourself in the meantime:
1. Meals: Never turn away any of the dinnersthat neighbors, friends or family offer to bring over in that firstmonth. A hot meal (one that isn't microwaved) can be a godsend,especially if you have other hungry kids to feed.
2. Nighttime diaper changes: In those sleep-deprivedmonths, the twice- or thrice-nightly (or more!) wake-ups can be toughnight after night. Especially when you're nursing, even five minutesextra rest can add up, so request that your husband or partner be ondiaper patrol so you have one less thing to be awake for. If your babyis formula-fed, you can also alternate feedings with your partner.
3. Cleaning service: It's definitely a luxury to havehelp cleaning the house, but in the first few months, consider using ahousekeeping service so that when baby is sleeping, you can do somethingother than scrubbing the toilets and mopping.
4. Baby holders: You can enlist all those visitorswho come to see you and meet the baby as temporary baby holders. Theyare more than happy to snuggle the baby while you take that shower, gofor a walk or just run out to the drug store to get more concealer forthose bags under your eyes.
5. A complete diaper-buying strategy: My first wasborn in the middle of winter and I didn't want to leave the house. Ever.But I had to get the essentials such as diapers, baby food and formula.So I ordered much of what I needed online. But for those immediatediaper needs, it helps to know which stores carry your favorite brand soyou can swoop in, get what you need and get out.
6. Online groceries: Speaking of food, once thoseprepared meals run out, you still need to keep your fridge stocked withwholesome, nutritious foods. If you have a local grocery deliveryservice, use it! It sure beats being in the checkout line with a hugecart of groceries and a screaming newborn with a dirty diaper.
7. Rest and sleep: This is one of those reallyimportant ways you can help yourself. You always hear the advice, "sleepwhen the baby sleeps,"because there's real truth to it. Those nighttimewake-ups won't be as painful if you're able to rest during the day. Or,as my mom always says, "FIVE minutes, just five minutes, please putyour feet up and rest."
8. Parents, aunts, uncles, cousins: The bigger thefamily you have, the more people you have to help you. Don't hesitate toreach out and ask for help. After a couple of months, the deliveredmeals and offers to help become less frequent, but I bet that anyoneyou're close would drop everything if asked.
9. Carpool: If you have other kids in the house whoneed to go to practices, lessons and school activities, reach out to theparents of your kids' friends and ask to carpool. Better yet, ask themfor rides and promise that you'll repay the carpool karma when you comeout of the newborn stage.
10. Doctor, nurse, lactation consultant: If youreally feel like you're struggling or you're not getting the nursingthing down, call your doctor's office and ask for help. Your doctor andnurse are there to help you and make sure you're transitioning well intoparenthood. If you're having trouble nursing, lactation consultants areavailable to assist.
Just remember, it's OK to ask for help. It's even more OK to take it.
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