#1 Reason New Moms Feel Overwhelmed
The Unrealistic Stereotype
You've seen and heard it before. Maybe you have some girlfriends that fit the mold. She's superwoman; able to leap tall buildings with baby securely snugged in her carrier or wrap. Now this is NOT to make women feel less than capable. We all know that when God made woman he sprinkled a little something "EXTRA" in her cup. It's the reason we posses the ability to carry life, give birth, nurture our young, maintain and run beautiful warm households, uplift our communities and support our partners. But living up to these expectations and maintaining such a tough exterior leaves us vulnerable when we need it the most! It wasn't until after reading Allie's Chee's New Mother, that I realized, it wasn't always this way.
Traditionally, during postpartum and the early stages after childbirth, women were supported very differently. We had such a stronger sense of community. Women were doted upon by their mothers, aunts, and other caretakers. After giving birth, women were taken care of so that she in turn could be in good health to care of her newborn. Sadly, so many women today are separated from their families and lack a means of real support. Many traditional cultures such as the Chinese have specific requirements for women during this period. Named The Sitting Moon reflecting the 30 day lunar cycle, women stay in bed, getting up only when utterly necessary. She eats traditional foods that will help heal her body and this time is spent bonding with and breastfeeding her new baby. Although, today this may be more difficult, it shows a stark contrast to how women, especially in American, approach the postpartum period. We are expected, almost immediately to return to household duties and chores thus not giving our bodies and mind time to adjust to this new transition in life. So what can you do differently?
A better way for women to take care of themselves after childbirth
DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FAMILY AND FRIENDS FOR HELP. You probably have family or friends that have had children recently; they can serve as a great support system. Many times moms tell me that don’t want to impose or seem self serving by asking family and friends to help with mundane task such as laundry. However, quite the opposite is true. Chances are parents with younger kids remember how flustered and overwhelmed they felt and how much they wished they had a better support system. Don’t underestimate how much close family and friends want to help. We just may have to point them in the right direction.
HIRE HELP. If you don’t have close family and friends living near by consider hiring professionals. One concern often voiced about this option is the absurd cost. Depending on your needs and comfort level, hired help can actually be quite affordable. Furthemore, a cook can take the frustration out of planning every meal. If this is not a valid option, consider a food delivery service. Believe me, the very last thing you or your partner want to have to think about after being up all night attending to a newborn is what’s for dinner. Housekeeping is another inexpensive service that can be lightly sprinkled into your budget. If you want more hands on help with your care or your baby’s care consider a postpartum doula, or nurse. Both of these type of professionals will be able will be able to answer the many question that follow childbirth. They will also be able to provide hands on support.
FIND A SUPPORTIVE GROUP OF OTHER KNOWLEDGEABLE WOMEN THAT SUPPORT YOUR DECISIONS. A wise African proverb says, if you want to go fast go alone if you want to go far go together. There’s a degree of uncertainty that goes hand in hand with embarking on a new journey. What can be more daunting and new than parenthood for the first time? A little reassurance can go a very long way.
DON'T WAIT UNTIL EVERYTHING SPIRALS OUT OF CONTROL. This goes hand in hand with building a supportive network of knowledge women. Know your options and create a plan before your give birth. The time to work and create a plan is before your child is born. By that time you may be flustered and sleep deprived. It may be difficult to anticipate what services you will truly need. One option is to take this time to create a directory of services. This way, when the need arrives you already have everything fingertips away.