What support will you need to help you thrive, after giving birth? (Part 1.)

 In Motherhood, Postpartum

After giving birth you need such a lot of support to ensure you heal well and recover thoroughly.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’? 
Well, I believe ‘it takes a village to support a mother.’ 

Did you know that in many traditional cultures around the world women are supported and nurtured in the early weeks of motherhood? They’re very often completely relieved of everyday household tasks as they take time for their body to recover from giving birth.

It’s different in the West. Here we expect women to heal from giving birth, bond with their baby and learn to breastfeed without skipping a beat or dropping any of the dishes they may be washing.

So I ask you to consider, what sort of support do you think you might need as a new mama?

It can be surprisingly hard to know what you’d like to have help with, can’t it? It’s even a bit confronting to think that you might need help. After all, all the other mothers seem to manage don’t they? Why would you be any different?

The thing is though, so many mothers struggle with exhaustion, isolation, loneliness, feelings of overwhelm. Often they have breastfeeding difficulties, or relationship challenges, or they find it hard to physically recover. But you won’t necessarily know this, because hardly anyone talks about it.

So I wonder, what are some practical things you think you might need help and support with, as a new mother? 

Perhaps you’re really not sure? Or you just can’t imagine? Maybe you don’t really think you’ll need any help? You’re a pretty capable person after all!

To help you see that you probably will want help and that it really is OK to ask for help, I asked some mothers what they would have loved to have had help with when they were deep in newborn baby land.

This is what they said:

  • ‘Cooking and grocery shopping, definitely!’ 
  • ‘Someone to fold and put away laundry!’
  • ‘Watching bubba so I could have a shower and use the bathroom!’
  • ‘Making sure the water bottles next to my bed and nursing chair were filled so when I got stuck under a sleeping baby I would have water! I always forgot in that hazy state!’
  • ‘Washing and putting my bedsheets back on (that is a pain anytime but especially postpartum). Something which in the first weeks I needed to do every night because of leaks and milk and so on but didn’t bother with because I was so exhausted and sore.’
  • ‘Helping manage guests – making sure mum isn’t overwhelmed, making sure guests wash their hands, basically help to uphold boundaries which mum might be too out-of-it or too emotional to deal with.’
  • ‘Ensuring lots of really nourishing foods and snacks to support the mama through that postpartum period. (This would be good to give as gifts especially for second or third bubs when you really don’t need any more baby gifts).’
  • ‘This is a big one but hard to define – it would have been great for at least the first two weeks to have someone sort of take on the mental load and say ‘you rest, I’ll figure out what needs to get done and get it done!’ 
  • ‘I did the 40 day baby moon as in the TCM tradition and had a food tree where friends brought meals over it was a true blessing but difficult to ask for and took some planning to arrange before bubs were born.’
  • ‘I really had to stand up to my mother who thought observing the first 40 days was ridiculous. She thought she could look after the baby whilst I went to the shops instead of her going to the shops getting things for me and I staying home with baby’
  • ‘At social gatherings just to have someone offer to take bubba for a bit so I could grab something to eat and socialise would have been amazing!’

Issues for mothers with multiples:

  • ‘Definitely extra hands to help and entertain an older sibling.’
  • ‘I would have loved someone else to drop my daughter to school and pick her up so I didn’t have to wake my sleeping baby all the time.
    I would also have loved someone to provide support during the after school hours when my husband wasn’t yet home. Debriefing with a school aged kid, helping with homework, breastfeeding or settling a bubba, and trying to cook dinner makes for way too much juggling for my liking.’ 
  • ‘I have a lot of memories of cooking while holding my baby in the baby carrier, praying I wouldn’t knock or hurt his little feet on the bench top, while chatting to my daughter and chopping food!’
  • ‘I had an emergency c-section with both kids and for the first few days I couldn’t even walk properly. So I could have done with help with basics – someone bringing me tea and food, changing the kids’ nappies, cleaning the house… Anyway, I think what would help is for women to tweak their mindset and prepare to receive. I didn’t know how to ask for what I needed.’
  • ‘The only person who really helped me was a friend who left food by my door a couple of times. Didn’t even knock! I was so grateful because I felt embarrassed that the place was a mess. So she gave without me even asking. But that was only 3-4 times.’ 
  • ‘I personally just needed space, there is so much going on and others projected needs of wanting to see the baby, I needed time to listen to my own intuition and relax into being a mumma, or a mumma of two in my case. If I could have been in a warm cave with my babies and if meals were brought and I had fresh clothing, I think it would have been ideal.’

Imagine if you could talk with a very dear and much loved sister, friend, mother, aunt, and grandmother. What might they say if they were open to honestly sharing with you what they’d ached for in early motherhood? Do you think they might say similar things?

Healing requires time, rest, nutritious food and lots of love. Your mental health, your relationship with your partner and your baby, your breastfeeding journey and your long term health will all be influenced by how much love and care and nurture you’re able to receive in those first few weeks and months of early motherhood. It’s OK to ask for help. In fact, it’s really smart to ask for help.

We have such high expectations of being independent and being able to manage by ourselves. But mama, you were never meant to mother alone. After giving birth you’re meant to have support. You’re meant to have help, love, friendship and sisterhood to nourish your heart when you feel low and to hold your baby when you’re tired.

It’s OK to ask for help. It’s also OK to accept help. After giving birth, you’ll need to receive such a lot support, so that you can thrive.

Thank you so much to the wonderful women at The School of Visibility who shared with me their thoughts on what they would have loved to have received help with during their postpartum period. You can learn more about The School of Visibility here.

To find out why receiving support is so important for healing and recovery after giving birth, read my free guide to postpartum recovery. You can get it here.

To enquire about booking in home postpartum doula support click here.

This is Part One of a three part blog series unpacking why new mama’s need support. You can read part two here!

Recommended Posts