5 Rules for Postpartum Help

Grandparents with new baby
Photo © Aldo Murillo/Getty Images

Postpartum help is such a blessing! Having people there to help you ease your way into the life with a new baby can be a great way to start off. Sometimes there are real problems with having postpartum help, particularly from family members. Too often this is caused by a lack of communication by both parties. Here are some basic rules to state up front for those who offer help:

  • Baby holders need not apply.
    The very first rule of having someone help you is that they are there to help you with the house so that you can learn to take care of your baby. This means that they get the jobs like errands, dishes and dinner. You get to hold, change and nurse the baby. You are allowed to give them a baby related task, but it's only to allow you to sleep or shower, not to have them hold the baby while you do dishes.
  • Know how to cook a meal.
    If you don't know how to cook, at least know how to order take out or where to pick up a ready made meal. Meal service is high on the priority list of new moms and their families. They need great meals that can be stretched out into left overs when appropriate.
  • With hold judgments.
    Your helper might have kids of their own, or maybe they've just seen it done before, but unless baby is in grave danger, they should keep their opinions to themselves, unless you ask for it. You need to muddle through some of this to learn how you and your baby work best together.
  • Know when to call in reinforcements.
    Sometimes you may need a bit extra help. This might be the lactation consultant, a postpartum doula or even your practitioner or the baby's practitioner. If you need more help - ask for it.
  • Be prepared to see the good, the bad and the ugly.
    The people who come to help you should be prepared to see the joy of a new baby, but also the messy parts, like baby blues, messy houses and dirty diapers. It's all a part of the new baby package!

    As a mom, if you wind up getting help from friends or family and you find that it isn't very helpful, you may find yourself in the position of trying to get rid of well meaning but troublesome help. If it's someone who lives locally, it may not be as much of a problem. You might just tell them that you're doing better than expected and no longer need their help.

    If it's someone who has come in from out of town with a plane ticket, you may either have to have a heart-to-heart talk or stick it out.

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