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Building a Strong Postpartum Support System for New Moms

Becoming a new mom is a life-altering journey filled with both joy and challenges. As the world around you seems to blur into a whirlwind of feedings, diaper changes, and sleepless nights, the importance of a strong support system cannot be overstated. Here, we'll give you some tips on building your tribe so you can navigate the challenges and cherish the joys of early motherhood.

Why You Need Help Caring for a Newborn During the Postpartum Period

Having a baby can be an isolating experience. You may go from having a full social calendar, to not knowing what day (or time) it is. While it can take some time to adapt to your new role, you don't have to do it alone. Having a mommy support system in place can make a world of difference—even if you have an extremely supportive partner. Connecting with other new moms can make you feel like you're doing your best, even if it doesn't always seem that way. Some of the biggest reasons you need a solid support system include the following:

Motherhood Can Be a Difficult Adjustment

Becoming a mother might not be what you imagined or what you read in baby books. It can be a whirlwind of experiences, overwhelm, and anxiety about the health and safety of your newborn. You might be calling your pediatrician every 20 minutes or unable to find a minute of solitude, but with the right support system in place, you'll understand that you're not alone. Just the simple fact of having someone to share your experience with can make a huge difference.

Raising a Child Takes a Village

Parenthood is the time when you start to understand that it really takes a village to raise a kid. Your baby's needs are going to trump everything, which can be extremely demanding and take a toll on your physical and mental well-being. While those first few weeks are the hardest, getting your family's support and the support of other new mamas can help you adapt and provide you with some time if you need a break.

Self-care and Postpartum Care are Essential

Whether you've had a natural delivery or a c-section, you need to listen to your body and give it the time it needs to recover both physically and mentally. It's okay if you're feeling overwhelmed or need time to yourself once the baby comes. All moms need some time to take a bath, sit in silence for 10 minutes, or even just step outside for a breath of fresh air.

How to Build Your Postpartum Support Network

First-time parents will need some help, so don't be afraid to find the best ways to support your journey. For some, this might mean attending in-person classes or groups, while others might find what they need with resources available online. Regardless, here are a few tips to help you feel more confident and find your tribe in those weeks after birth.

Look for Support Groups Online During Your Pregnancy

Whether you start in your first or third trimester, the Internet is a great place to prepare you for giving birth and set you up for success in those first days of motherhood. There are plenty of great online resources to help you find local groups. Postpartum Support International has some great options for online support meetings. There are also plenty of support groups you can join once you find out you're pregnant to help you along the way.

Separate Physical and Emotional Support

If you've had a cesarean, you might need to build a care team for the first few days. It's considered a major surgery, so you should treat it like one, even though you'll also have your baby to look after. Vaginal deliveries will also take some time to recover from, just in different ways. Creating a postpartum recovery station can help, but you may want to get a midwife to help.

In addition to the physical support, find your people to help you through the mental struggles of the first few days and weeks of becoming a new mom. This could include calling a friend or joining an online group of other new moms—whatever helps you feel less stressed or overloaded.

Once Your Baby is Born, Go to the Park

After you've recovered physically, get outside, go for a walk, and get some fresh air. Walk in your neighborhood to the nearest park or playground and sit outside with your newborn. The fresh air will help clear your head, and you might even meet a new friend in the neighborhood. Even if their children aren't the same age as yours, conversing with other moms can feel liberating and hopeful.

Join Classes for New Mothers

If you're struggling to meet anyone in person, consider joining a class specifically for new mothers. This is one of the best things you can do to connect to other new parents in the area with the same interests as you. If you're unsure where to find a list of classes, check out the hospital's resource page online or ask your OB/GYN for recommendations.

Identify All of the Tasks You'll Need Help With Once the Baby Arrives

Don't be afraid to ask for help from your mom, dad, aunt, sister, friend, or whoever. While you might feel like you're a burden at first, everyone loves being around a new baby! There are plenty of ways to find someone to help you with household chores, a diaper change, or cooking a meal. To help you prepare even more, consider making a list of all the tasks you think you'll need help with once the baby arrives. Start in your first trimester and add things as you think of them. This can help you better understand what to expect from early on.

Consider Who You Want on Your Support Team

After making your list, have conversations with your friends or family members in the weeks and months leading up to your big day to see if they'd be willing to help. You'd be surprised how many people will jump at the opportunity to step in as a caregiver. Don't feel like you're overstepping; they can always say no if they're unable to give you the help you need.

Look Outside of Your Friends and Family

Your circle of mom support doesn't have to be limited to friends and family members. If you're in a religious group or immersed in the community, consider seeing if you can get a different type of support there. Maybe you need help with a task you committed to doing for an upcoming community event or are supposed to be speaking in your religious community. If you need to delegate, it's always okay to communicate your needs.

Hire a Postpartum Doula

A doula can help you juggle all of the things you need to do after giving birth. They can become a wonderful part of your postpartum support team, helping you with everything from basic tasks around the house to child care. If you didn't use a doula for birth, ask your OB/GYN for recommendations to help with post-delivery support.

Talk to a Lactation Consultant

For mothers who plan to breastfeed, the journey can be a little more difficult than you might have expected. To ensure that you have all of the support you need to nourish your newborn, consider talking to a lactation consultant. They'll help you perfect your latch, find the right position for breastfeeding, and give you the emotional support you need while navigating the journey to nursing.

Ways to Help a New Parent

Friends and families support one another; that's just basic kindness and love. If you recently had a friend or family member who's welcoming a new addition to their tribe, consider some of the following ways you can help without being asked.

  • Cook them a meal or two.
  • Bring over some treats.
  • Offer to help with childcare for older children.
  • Offer to walk their dog or take care of their cat.
  • Help with the housework.
  • Bring some self-care essentials.
  • Provide an uninterrupted ear.
  • Give them some space.

For even more support, make sure you have everything you need for when the baby arrives, including an insurance-covered breast pump from Byram Healthcare. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all new and expecting mothers can receive one at zero out-of-pocket costs. Check out our breastfeeding pump product guide to learn more about your options and begin ordering today.