When you are pregnant it is very difficult to know what kind of support you will need once baby arrives. You might need help with breastfeeding, cooking, cleaning, sleeping, getting to doctor appointments, etc. Even the second and third time around I wasn't quite sure what type of support I would need until after baby was born. I didn't know how easily our kids would adjust to a new sibling, whether baby would nurse and sleep well. Or if there were going to be any medical issues that required extra trips to the pediatrician or hospital.
Once baby arrives, it's easy to forget about your own needs. After our first child was born, I remember going to one new mothers' group where the leader frequently handed out huge glasses of lemonade. Sometimes I didn't realize just how thirsty I was until I was going back for a refill. Her little gesture was greatly appreciated.
When you are taking care of a new baby, asking for help can become a task in and of itself. You may want to shower and/or clean your home before guests stop by to see baby. Or, when family and friends offer to help, you may not even know what to ask for. Coming up with specific tasks that should get done might just be too overwhelming.
One of my dear friends, Kari, was part of my village when my son was a baby. She is now a doula and recently posted a list of how your village can help you during the fourth trimester. I wish I had found a list like this when I was pregnant the first time around.
Not only does her list give new moms ideas for how their village can help, but also reiterates that it is normal to need to lean on friends, family and doulas during this very emotional and exhausting time.
Something as simple as a relative offering to watch baby while you eat a meal or take a shower, a friend sitting down with you to talk about the birth, your mother washing dishes that are piling up in the sink, a cousin playing with an older brother or sister on the floor, or a doula tending to baby so you can take a 30 minute nap. These small gestures can make a huge difference in a new family's day.