Babies are amazing and such a gift, but they are also exhausting and the transition to motherhood is not always an easy one. Every person and family adjust at their own pace and in their own way, but there are some basic things that all postpartum mothers need.
One: Emotional Support
All postpartum moms need to feel supported and cared for. They need this support to be judgment free and with no strings attached. This can be shown in many ways, but often moms are receptive to encouragement, acknowledgment, and reassurance. New moms need to hear things like, you are doing great. This is hard, but I can help you and Yes, this is normal.
Two: Physical Support
New moms need to be taken care of. They may need someone to help them clean, cook, do laundry, hold the baby and do all the things. It is hard enough for new moms to just be so taking as much off of her plate as possible will be so needed and appreciated. Do the tasks without being asked as she may feel so overwhelmed that she won’t even know where to begin.
Three: Self Care
New moms will struggle with finding time to care for themselves. It may seem impossible to find time to eat, shower, go to the bathroom, brush their hair or teeth and all of the things we need two hands to accomplish. Unable to do these simple things will make new moms feel trapped and can lead to depression. Women have a tendency to act like Martyrs after having a baby and try to do all the things without help and it is everyone around them the responsibility to notice and help them make the time. Saying, let me hold the baby while you eat. Here is your food, I’ll take the baby. The bath is all ready for you. This can be so helpful and life-changing for mom.
Four: Rest and Sleep
Rest and sleep may be hard to come by after having a baby, but it is so critical for moms recovery and well being. Adjusting to the broken sleep is exhausting and if mom is breastfeeding it can feel like no one can help. Encouraging mom to take a nap or a few naps each day while you hold the baby will help her so much. If the baby only sleeps while being held than offer to hold the baby once or twice in the night so she can lay down and sleep. If mom is breastfeeding she can collect milk with the Haaka pump and you can give a bottle or two throughout the night so she can get a 4 hour stretch of sleep. Broken sleep is a hard adjustment and it should not all fall on mom.
New moms are vulnerable and Raw. The new responsibility, the incredible love, the hormones, reliving the birth, the lack of sleep and the learning curve make for a wave of intense feelings. They may not know how to find themselves again and most women, about 80%, will experience the baby blues in those first two weeks. They need love and it needs to be in a way that they understand and can accept. Telling her, showing her and caring for her in all the ways will help this transition be a smoother one.
Every new mom will appreciate and need all five of these things. Also, remember no one is in this alone. There is a community of experts and specialists to help your family adjust. Postpartum doulas, doctors, lactation consultants, therapists, groups, other moms, family, and friends.