Your job on maternity leave is to take care of you and your baby
C-section or not, you will need help. If you had a C-section then on top of the exhaustion from having just given birth you will also be recovering from a major surgery and have very limited mobility. Oh, and you’ll be caring for a new life, a precious little blob of a human who needs you for everything but pooping (that s/he can do on his own, though you will need to clean it up). You’ll need some help. If you don’t normally like to accept help, let alone reach out for help, get over it. It good for you and your baby to ask for help during maternity leave. Your main focus should be caring for your little bundle of joy and for yourself. Leave as much of everything else to everyone else so that you can focus on healing yourself and nurturing your little babe during your fourth trimester.
You should set BOUNDARIES during the fourth trimester
When you do this, know it’s OK to set boundaries. For example, you may need help with cleaning but your babe may be too young to be handled by strangers or you just might not want someone’s hands all over her. That’s OK. You may need help with food but not be in the mood to talk to anyone. That’s OK too. Let folks know.
You can prepare folks for what works best for you in advance. If you are comfortable straight up telling them over the phone, kudos to you! Do it. If not try text or using your partner/mom/bestie as a messenger:
Via text or email try sending something like: “Hey thanks so much for the help you are about to provide you have no idea how much it means to me. Baby boy is still a little young and so I’ve been letting folks know he’s not up for interaction quite yet. I, on the other hand really need the support you are bringing. Thank you”
If you are using a close friend as a messenger have them share something similar to folks who are coming over to support. Be honest about your needs. It’s likely your bestie will help to coordinate your guest’s arrival, while they are doing this they can share with your guest all of the gratitude you’ve shown and how you are feeling.
A few ways to ask for help during maternity leave
Now that you’ve got your boundaries set and shared, here are a few ways to ask for help during maternity leave:
Have someone start a meal train.
You will be hungry, you will not want to cook. Even if your partner cooks, you are both going to want to focus on the baby and your recovery. Starting a meal train can help with this. A meal train is simply an organized and calendared drop off of food. So you know Bob will bring casserole on Monday and Susan quinoa salad on Tuesday, etc. The best part about this is the ask is just to DROP OFF the food, NOT to stay and chat. Though if you are up for it, why not indulge in a little conversation. There is even a website to help: https://www.mealtrain.com/
Share your go-to grocery list with a friend.
If you feel like a meal train is not for you, that’s cool. Maybe just share some of your favorite grocery go-to’s with a friend. Do you love Greek Yogurt or Zapps chips? Are you crazy about bananas? Maybe you are a huge fan of the rotisserie chickens at the shop across town. Let a few friends know, that dropping these off at any given time would be super welcome. And if you want to be specific do it. People will want to feed you! It’s a way to show they care.
Tell folks to bring freezable food
You might be worried about your fridge filling up and this could be a #firstworldproblems concern. Real, but not the worst thing. Having said that, no one wants food to go bad. So ask folks to bring food that can be frozen, casseroles, soups and stewed meats make great options.
Let a group know you’d love a house cleaning
Your house will probably be a wreck, or at least not as clean as you normally keep it. That’s ok, your focus is on the baby. Having said that, a messy house will make you nuts. SO, ask for some help. Normally I don’t advocate for a having multiple visitors at once, however in this instance it works best for everyone. Folks will probably volunteer to help you clean. It might make you feel weird. Don’t let it. They will feel good about helping you. Having said that I’ve found having a group clean is even better than one friend managing the task. The work happens more quickly and they can entertain each other while you relax with baby.
Also, for some reason, having 4-5 people clean at the same time while I sit on my duff seems less awkward than having 1 person do it. Another play on this option is to let a group throw in money for a professional cleaner OR a post-partum doula. If everyone chips in $10-$30 it can really add up.
Let someone hold the baby while you shower
Seriously, you will need to do things for you. Your partner will go back to work at some point and you will have LONG days alone with your little one. Invite someone over to hold the baby while you do stuff. Stuff equals, things to make you feel like yourself, shower, put on some make-up, stretch, do laundry, take a nap, take a walk, whatever floats your boat.
Ask someone to check in on you via-text once a week
Also, let them know if they don’t hear back that’s ok. There are times during the first 3 months where you will be lonely. Having said that lonely doesn’t always mean that you want company, you might just want a bit of connection. In that case, ask someone to be available to chat, to just listen or to check in on you without expecting a response. Connecting is important. Help during maternity leave should also include emotional support.
Have someone take a walk with you during the fourth trimester
Though getting out can feel daunting it will be well worth the effort. Movement and fresh air are great for you and your baby. Just like with working out, and most things, doing it in good company is better.
There you go, 7 ways to ask for help during maternity leave. Know that during this time, maybe more than any other, people will want to go out of their way for you. Let them. It will warm both your soul and theirs. Not to mention help keep you fed, showered and able to properly focus on your little bub.
A quick note on thank-yous
Etiquette is not my place of expertise, still I’ll say, if folks are doing something for you, at some point it would be great to send a thank you card. Having said that YOU JUST HAD A BABY. They are coming over to help you and so, seriously a thank you text should suffice. The whole point of this type of help is that you are not a t full capacity. When you find time later in the year, maybe try to send a nice card or email. Reflecting back on the love and gratitude you felt receiving their help will warm your heart and theirs.
Now that you are ready to ask for help, are you ready to nurse your baby? Check out this post for tips on the proper set up and essential items you’ll want in arms reach.