I have been running new parent support groups for over fifteen years. I love being there for the triumphs and even the tears. I love to see these parents share their stories and support each other. I know, without a doubt, this work makes a difference. But here is the thing that sucks, support groups are great, but parents have to find them, travel to them and they are typically only weekly or less. It is utter nonsense that we push new parents out the door of the hospital, with a 2 or 3 day old newborn, and leave them to fend for themselves.
It’s like a bad dystopian novel, “Survive The Newborn Days”. You have six weeks to figure everything out about this tiny new human and who you are yourself, and as a couple, now that your entire world has been flipped upside down. You have to do it completely on your own, sleep deprived, after likely completing the equivalent of an Iron Man triathlon and/or major surgery, and go back to everything you were doing before. Ready? GO!
How does that even make any sense? I know you have heard your friends speak of “barely surviving” the early weeks with a new baby. Are you hoping for a different postpartum experience than this? I want to let you in on a secret. It does NOT have to be this way! You can change the story of newborn parenting to one of joy, confidence and peace and it’s simple. Line up nurturing care for yourself and your partner. Ask your best friend to put a meal train together for you. Surround yourself with nurturing happy parents. Ask for help with the day to day stuff, and be specific so you can focus on your baby, your family and yourself. Ask a neighbor to walk your pup or utilize doggy daycare for their first few weeks postpartum. Schedule weekly postpartum massages. Hire professional support.
Professional support is a bit different than a family member or friend coming to help. Having a trusted resource you can reach out to anytime as you work to understand your new little one is invaluable. A trained and knowledgeable professional who offers support without judgement or opinions can be life changing. Our society puts so much focus on birth and we ignore that after birth… there is a BABY! I heard a wonderful women describe it as “focusing on the wedding instead of the marriage”. I truly love how much families prepare for their birth experience, but there is more to bringing a human into the world than birth. Investing in your postpartum weeks can allow you to enter parenthood nurtured and cared for. It is known to reduce stress, increase confidence, and may even reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Here is the best part, by changing your newborn parent story, you are helping our society as a whole! If you are able to come through those early weeks feeling rested and cared for and in love, and you share with friends how and why you did it, other parents will feel more confident in asking for and hiring help. You are a smart educated adult, I am sure you agree that planning for a supported, positive postpartum experience makes sense.