Helping Parents of Newborns Cope

It’s not uncommon that when you bring home a new baby, people will offer all sorts of help. However it’s less common for most to actually follow through on those offers.

If you do have someone such as a good friend or relative who’s willing to really pitch in for a week or so after the birth of your baby, you’re probably counting yourself lucky. But before you jump at their offer of help, Family Life Instructor Kim Marsden says you should stop and think about the type of help you need. “If you have help that’s coming to live with you when you have a new baby, you might want to talk to your partner first about when you want the help. Do you want to have the help immediately, or would you like a week or so to just bond and be together? By the end of that week you’re probably thrilled to have anyone come in who looks like they’re at all competent with a vacuum cleaner or spatula.”

Marsden adds that it’s important to be “clear with comments like “I think the baby and I will have a nap right now, but gee, dinner isn’t even ready”. Hopefully such hints will lead to your relative such as a mother-in-law happily making dinner and being very supportive. “But” warns Marsden,“you have to be clear about what it is you’re hoping they’ll do.”

Marsden also reminds us that child birth, breast feeding and those middle-of-the-night wakings can be quite taxing on new moms which is precisely why it’s important that help provides new moms with an opportunity to take care of themselves and their babies, instead of the household chores. And says Marsden, “a real key point to remember for brand new moms is they’re learning to be moms and getting to know their baby. So people who are trying to help them should try to help them with the other support work, and let mom be with baby so she can get to know her job.”

So go ahead and welcome the help from your good friend or relative. Just remember that your job is to take care of and bond with your newborn. Theirs is to make that happen with a little less worry and effort on your part.


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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