Building Your Postpartum Support Team

Postpartum is a particular time in a woman's life. So often, women take on attending to everyone else's needs. We are expected to look good, feel good, and have a smile on our faces all the time. Postpartum is when a woman should be attended to and fully embraced as she goes through the physical and mental healing process of pregnancy, birth, and her new mothering role.


Not everyone will be able or willing to attend to someone's needs in this way. I encourage my clients to take inventory of those around them and decide on their postpartum support based on their ability to help rather than the role they have in their life. During pregnancy, take some time to determine who you would like to include in your postpartum support team. Those you choose to be by your side can have a significant impact for the positive or the negative.



Your Partner

Your partner is an essential person in this transition. They will be your teammate as they adjust to their new role. They do not have the physical healing (nutritional and hormonal) aspect you have, which allows them to be more mobile. I encourage you to have conversations with your partner about what each of you expects during the first three months of parenthood. What do they envision days and nights to look like? Talk to them about the changes you will be going through and how they can be supportive. Encourage them to read about postpartum mental wellness for them to be able to spot any things that may not be the norm.

If you do not have a partner during the postpartum time, that is okay! You are not any less able to take care of your child and be the mother you dream of being. If this is your case, it is imperative to ensure you have lots of other postpartum supports by your side to ensure you are getting the support you need.


Other Family Members

In addition to you becoming a mother, other role shifts occur when a new baby arrives. Grandparents also have a role shift that they experience. Grandparents can be a tremendous asset to our postpartum season. They can provide you with familial support that you are comforted by and familiar with. They can cook you meals that they know you enjoy, fold your laundry, or clean your house, and you not be shy about it because they have seen your mess since childhood. This is so helpful to the mother!

This help is not always automatic. Some family members are not helpful in this manner and instead show up as visitors to have their own bonding time with the baby. If grandparents are more focused on taking the baby for the mother to feel the pressure to host - this is not okay. It may be a difficult boundary to set, but it is sometimes more helpful to invite these family members over after more healing has occurred. The last thing the mother should feel is that she needs to host visitors rather than welcome helpers. You do not have to explain yourself and why you choose to limit visitors. You can kindly request they come at a later date and leave it at that. During this time, it is far more critical for the mother to prioritize her needs than attend to their wants and try and manage other people's feelings. They will meet the baby at a more appropriate time.


Postpartum Doula

Postpartum Doulas are angels. Their role in new mothers' lives is to help in the exact ways she needs. They are available to help around the home with meals and meal prep, cleaning, and ensuring the mother's needs are being taken care of for her to be free to take care of her baby. Postpartum doulas can be hired for as much as you need. You may need help just 1 or 2 days a week, or maybe during the night, to help with sleep deprivation. Postpartum doulas offer many different options for schedules and length of help.


Friends

Friends are an incredible asset during your postpartum season. I have found many women have difficulty asking friends for help. They invite their friends over to spend time with (which is incredibly important) but have a hard time requesting help. Mamas, your friends want to help you and sometimes don't know how to help. Don't hesitate to ask a friend to drop by the store on their way over to pick up some of the tea you just ran out of. Or to bring the laundry down from the dryer and fold it while you chat and nurse. This is your friend's time to shine, and I know that they are happy to do so more often than not.