By Jeana Lee Tahnk
I'm a pretty independent, "I can do it myself" person, but with each progressive pregnancy and newborn stage, I have come to appreciate and embrace the help I receive. Hopefully you have a very supportive network of friends and family who are more than eager to help out. The best 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 to make things easier, even just a little bit. Having the time in those tough early months to shower, rest and sleep can go a long way in improving your outlook and disposition. It's amazing how difficult it can be to find time to shower when you have a baby, but those 10 minutes alone 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 dinners that neighbors, friends or family offer to bring over in that first month. 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-deprived months, the twice- or thrice-nightly (or more!) wake-ups can be tough night after night. Especially when you're nursing, even five minutes extra rest can add up, so request that your husband or partner be on diaper patrol so you have one less thing to be awake for. If your baby is formula-fed, you can also alternate feedings with your partner.
3. Cleaning service: It's definitely a luxury to have help cleaning the house, but in the first few months, consider using a housekeeping service so that when baby is sleeping, you can do something other than scrubbing the toilets and mopping.
4. Baby holders: You can enlist all those visitors who come to see you and meet the baby as temporary baby holders. They are more than happy to snuggle the baby while you take that shower, go for a walk or just run out to the drug store to get more concealer for those bags under your eyes.
5. A complete diaper-buying strategy: My first was born 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 immediate diaper needs, it helps to know which stores carry your favorite brand so you can swoop in, get what you need and get out.
6. Online groceries: Speaking of food, once those prepared meals run out, you still need to keep your fridge stocked with wholesome, nutritious foods. If you have a local grocery delivery service, use it! It sure beats being in the checkout line with a huge cart of groceries and a screaming newborn with a dirty diaper.
7. Rest and sleep: This is one of those really important ways you can help yourself. You always hear the advice, "sleep when the baby sleeps,"because there's real truth to it. Those nighttime wake-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 put your feet up and rest."
8. Parents, aunts, uncles, cousins: The bigger the family you have, the more people you have to help you. Don't hesitate to reach out and ask for help. After a couple of months, the delivered meals and offers to help become less frequent, but I bet that anyone you're close would drop everything if asked.
9. Carpool: If you have other kids in the house who need to go to practices, lessons and school activities, reach out to the parents of your kids' friends and ask to carpool. Better yet, ask them for rides and promise that you'll repay the carpool karma when you come out of the newborn stage.
10. Doctor, nurse, lactation consultant: If you really feel like you're struggling or you're not getting the nursing thing down, call your doctor's office and ask for help. Your doctor and nurse are there to help you and make sure you're transitioning well into parenthood. If you're having trouble nursing, lactation consultants are available to assist.
Just remember, it's OK to ask for help. It's even more OK to take it.
10 Ways to Accept Help After the Baby Arrives
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