When a friend or family member has a new baby, everyone is excited to express their congratulations, see the new baby, and give gifts. Often, friends and family want to help the new family in some way, but offers to feed and hold baby may not be the most helpful, especially for a breastfeeding mother/baby. Rather than politely declining help, parents can suggest these alternatives to their friends and family:
1. Can you bring food? Receiving a hot, homemade meal right at dinnertime can be a lifesaver for new parents and even more so if there are older siblings in the home. If you receive an offer of help, reply with a few available days that would be helpful to receive a meal. Be sure to discuss the time of day that would be best and note your food preferences and allergies (after all, people want you to enjoy what they bring). Friends and family can easily double a recipe and serve their own family and yours at the same time, and it makes them feel good to help. If you want to organize a number of meals and get others on board, check out www.mealtrain.com, a free and very convenient way to stay organized and avoid having the same dish three days in a row, or three meals delivered at once.
2. I would love a visit, but I can’t be a host. Especially if you have visitors in the first week or two, you will be tired, sore and trying to figure things out with baby care and breastfeeding. Be clear that you only have time for a brief visit, or for close friends and family, ask if they could help you while they visit. Maybe they could look after baby while you go take a long, uninterrupted shower or take a nap. If you are breastfeeding, they could make you a snack or bring you a drink, rather than the other way around. If you have older children, perhaps your visitors could take them to the park for a few minutes or entertain them while you care for baby.
3. Would you mind helping me when you visit? A few minutes spent running the vacuum, folding a load of laundry or walking the dog can help so much. Or before your visitors come over, ask if they can stop at the store and pick up a few things that you need. Saving you a trip to the store for a few things can alleviate a lot of stress.
4. Can you check in with me every day? Some days can be rough and emotional, and just a text or phone call to check in can help you remember that you're not alone and people care. On the easier days, you can catch up and stay connected with those closest to you.
5. I have a gift registry for a service that will be very helpful. Rather than receiving an overload of blankets or outfits at your shower, guests can choose to donate to a gift certificate for housekeeping services, diaper services or the services of a postpartum doula. Convey that these gifts will be something you will need and appreciate.
Friends and family genuinely want to do whatever they can to lend you support, but giving them specific ideas can help ensure they do so in a way that will best serve your needs and may alleviate tension for everyone. For more ideas to eliminate stress after baby arrives, see our Following the Birth booklet.
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