You have a new baby (yay!). Life is good. You survived childbirth, which you prepared for relentlessly with your classes, hospital tours, and by talking to friends who have been through labor (“You had what happen where?!”). The hard part is over–you made it with barely a tear! Then, the hospital or birthing center tells you, “You are free to go! This is the best time of your life, it will go by quickly–enjoy every moment!” You step outside, get in your car–triple checking that the car seat is safe-drive home at 4mph, and step inside your home. You and your partner look at each other and suddenly realize, “Wait… we have this new HUMAN in our home?! Where does it go?! What does it do?! It’s up to us to keep it alive?! That can’t be, we’re not even real adults!”
Then the visits start. All from well-meaning family and friends who want to help. But all that ends up happening is they sit with you, gossip, ask personal questions about the birth, talk about how beautiful the baby is, and after a couple of hours you think to yourself, “I just had to entertain people in my home when all I wanted to do was sleep or shower or try to poop” (try being the key word here). They bring gifts that you really don’t need (looking at you, stuffed animals) and, if you’re lucky, a meal. After a couple of weeks, all of this has gone away, your partner goes back to work, and you’re left with a baby who has just realized there is a world around him that he can’t wait to experience, and so, in turn, is becoming fussier and more awake. (“What happened to those first two weeks where all you did was sleep?!”)
I can’t fathom a time in your life when you will need help more than right after having a baby. Even if you are ill and can’t get out of bed, there is usually a partner who is well enough to take care of you. Having a baby happens to both of you. It happens to everyone in the household and when it does, usually all hell breaks loose for at least a few weeks. If you are lucky enough to have family who knows what to do with a newborn, knows how to leave you alone to rest and care for your family, you are lucky and among one of the few. For some reason, we live in a culture where people think having a baby is something that can be handled in solitude. We are raised to think that because women before us and around us did it alone, we should be able to do it alone also. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Many of my clients have told me that they don’t tell their coworkers or friends about me because they don’t want to look like they couldn’t “handle it on their own.” We, as a society, should not feel this way. Hiring a postpartum doula to help you and your family is not only practical; it means there may be more chance of avoiding postpartum depression, a long recovery from labor, anxiety, feeding issues, and isolation. I’m not saying you need to hire someone to be with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (although that is an option), but just enough to take the edge off and feel like you can succeed at this whole parenting thing.
Yes, it’s okay that you need help. You should need help. You’ve never done this before! You and your baby are new to this. Even if it’s your second, third, or fifteenth child, you have never been in this situation, with this particular child, with these particular circumstances happening in your life.
For more information on help after baby, visit www.ahandathome.co