When Phil and I were a few weeks away from Naiya’s due date, both of our families wanted to know what our plans were after baby in terms of what kind of help we would need. Between work, moving into our first home and of course being pregnant, I was so overwhelmed at the time, I couldn’t even wrap my head around life after labor. Instead, all I could focus upon was getting through pushing this baby out and then I figured we’d take it from there. Thankfully, my mom, Phil’s mom and his stepmom were all on board to help us out respectively. Having already raised newborns themselves, they definitely knew better than us what we were in for with a new baby and thankfully, they were all on standby to come spend time with us to help out.
Since “how can I help when your baby arrives?” was such a tough question for me to answer when anyone asked throughout my pregnancy, I’ve decided to put together a cheat sheet for any other first time moms who are also trying to figure out what to tell their parents and/or close friends or family members. Here goes:
1) Lifting Baby (especially for c-section mamas): After Naiya was born, I was still in a lot of pain from my c-section but she was crying around the clock and she constantly wanted to be held. One of the best ways our moms were able to help throughout this time was to help carry Naiya for me–especially up and down the stairs. This may seem like a no-brainer but if you’re anything like me, you will want to hold your baby as much as possible and you won’t realize how weak you actually are after such a major surgery. Likewise, it’s important to let someone help you with any lifting so that you can heal and your baby will also be safe. I should have asked for more help here–especially at night when I had to get up to feed Naiya–and I recommend you do too!
2) Food Shopping & Cooking: I’m not usually one to ask for help–especially in the food department–but having a friend or family member around right after your baby is born to help you prepare meals is so much more important than I ever could have imagined. The first couple of weeks at home after Naiya was born were a total blur and I definitely couldn’t cook, let alone go out shopping or even think about needing to eat. It’s important to stay nourished after baby–especially if you’re nursing–so definitely ask for help! Likewise, if guests want to come meet your baby and ask if you need anything, don’t be shy about asking for food! This is one time it’s okay to do so.
3) Cleaning: this is a tough one because again, it’s not always easy to ask for help–especially around the house–but having someone around to keep everything in your home neat and tidy during the first few weeks of your baby’s life is more important that I ever could have imagined. Phil and I rarely had enough time to do our dishes or vacuum and having a clean home while we were busy focusing on Naiya really did wonders for our psyche (especially because I rarely got to leave the house for weeks while I healed!).
I can only imagine that we would have been so much more stressed out of our minds if our home had been out of order. Our moms helped to keep our space as relaxing and tranquil as possible and Phil was a big help with this too. Before you bring your baby home, try to make sure that whoever is going to stay with you to help with baby is also open to helping to keep your place clean ahead of time. You’ll be so thankful you asked and your guest will know what they’re in for beforehand.
4) Early Morning Takeover: nighttime has been really tough since having Naiya. We’ve been trying to come up with a routine but since Naiya has been having digestive issues that keep her up, it’s been so much easier said than done. There’s something about a crying baby that is so much easier to take during the day. Our daughter could be crying in the exact same way at 3am and somehow it’s that much more heartbreaking and unbearable (probably because by then we’re completely exhausted by that point)!
Likewise, having our moms here was especially helpful early in the morning–around 6am-7am–after we’d made it through a whole night of feedings, crying and diaper changes and we were dying to be able to close our eyes for even an extra hour or two. Our moms were so amazing in helping to take Naiya when we needed them to around this time throughout the first few weeks of her life. I recommend coming up with a plan ahead of time for whoever stays with you after baby is born so that they know you may knock on their door early in the morning to take them up on some extra help! I swear this is the only way I stayed sane! I also love that Naiya got such great one-on-one bonding time with her grandmas during this time.
5) Date Night: We all know that having a baby changes everything but the transformation from being a couple to parents is so surreal and monumental, you can only wrap your head around how it will feel when you’re in it. It’s so important to carve out a little alone time for you and your partner as soon as you are able to come up for air. Our moms were so helpful in giving Phil and I time to be together–especially once I started to heal.
It took 8 weeks for us to go out for an hour-and-a-half on a date night but having my mom watch Naiya so that we could do this felt like such an amazing gift. Yes, we missed her the entire time and yes, we also talked about her the entire time but having some time to be one-on-one together as a couple was so important. Prior to being able to leave the house (when you’re still healing after baby), your guest(s) can help you by watching your baby so that you and your partner can do something as simple as sitting in bed, watching a movie together (uninterrupted by your baby crying!). This may seem like such a simple thing but it will help bring the two of you closer together and you’ll be able to come up for just a bit of extra air before jumping back into everything.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Katrina Jayne