Can I hold your baby while you make us some coffee?
By Alise McAllister, Seattle Doulas
Your baby is 3 days old, which by the way means that you're 3 days postpartum and you've got what feels like 500 visitors who want to meet your baby stopping by. Sure, you've got the cutest baby ever and he is the first newborn to NOT look like an old man but this is getting a bit out of control.
Luckily you planned ahead and bought adorable nursing pajamas so that you can follow your provider's advice and rest even though people are stopping by. The truth is, those adorable pajamas may hide the various things leaking from your newly postpartum body, but nobody ever mentioned that breastfeeding requires parents to grow arms like an octopus. Yes, one to hold the breast, one to hold the head, one to hold the body, one to quickly hold back the breast to check on latch (is that lower lip out?) and one to hold your water bottle (don't forget to hydrate). So, in walk your 500 closest relatives who are all offering to help out. How? Why they'll hold the baby while you make them all some coffee. Say what? Didn't the baby care teacher say that you need to hold the baby to bond? I know, I know...you probably want to run to your room and hide under the covers until they all leave and take their outdated advice with them. Don't worry though, we've got your back!
It can often feel like it takes 5 full grown adults to manage the house with a newborn but these tricks will help you simplify and organize. Doula tip #1: If it's the baby you want to hold, it's the laundry you need to fold. There are no free passes into the house with new parents! Hang a list on the fridge of all the things you need to do to make your world go 'round. Walk the dog, bring garbage to the curb, make parents a snack, clean bathroom...you get the idea. Hang it on the fridge. When your well meaning visitors come by, just point to the list and say we made you ask. Chances are, they actually want to help.
Is the meal train turning into happy hour at your house? Take a cooler and place it on your front porch. Attach a super cute picture of your baby to the top. Then, when people come by they can "see the baby" and bring a meal. If that feels too upfront, a simple sign one the door outlining expectations will do the trick. "Knock quietly, please keep visits short, wash your hands, and we would love your help," goes a long way.
Don't be afraid to ask for what you need! Growing and birthing a baby is serious work and you deserve time to recover. I'm willing to bet that most people really want to be helpful and just don't know how. If you can't ask for help for yourself, think of it as teaching the next generation to ask.