For my last 2 babies, my midwife had a piece of paper she taped to my front door before she left after the birth. Announcing to visitors that there was a new baby in the house, it shared birth facts such as weight, length, name, date, etc. That part was nice but what I really loved was the part about what visitors could do. Informing them that a new baby means help is needed and that their visit should be brief, this little piece of paper taped to my front door encouraged those that loved us and wanted to celebrate with us to keep their voices low, limit their time, understand if we needed to be alone, and give them ideas of how to help such as offering to do the dishes, sweep a floor, run the vacuum, or take the bigger kids to the park. In short, it helped our visitors figure out how to be the best kind of visitors and I discovered that I didn’t mind having people stop by as much as I did with my older kids simply because they helped more and were more understanding of our needs. Knowing they already saw a notice of sorts on the front door before they came in made it easier for me to respect my own boundaries, excusing myself to rest or not feeling awkward about them asking if they could help with something around the house.
There are far too many expectations on families when they have a new baby. Respecting the postpartum recovery and the important bonding that needs to happen with the new family member sets up families to continue on well for the long haul. If you’re breastfeeding, this time is crucial to establishing your breastfeeding relationship and focusing on that will have a long term pay off. Pushing for too much too soon, other people interfering with the bonding, can leave moms feeling burnt out and unwell months, maybe even years later. Having true support and help to take the time to really heal leads to endurance in the parenting journey. That, and knowing we’re not alone along the way.
So my gift to you is my version of this life-saving piece of paper. Ask your care provider to sign it complete with the appropriate initials behind their name then stick it on your front door when your little one arrives and leave it there for at least 6 weeks (8 if you birth via c-section). Be a good friend and print it off to give others that are expecting for them to put on their front door. Don’t hesitate to point out the note, referring to it by asking if they saw how much baby weighed or how long she was and if they didn’t notice, encourage them to go check out the info posted on the front door. It can be hard to ask for help yet not allowing others to help ends up creating isolation and robbing others of the joy of offering support and encouragement by helping. This little bit of guidance can help not only the new mom and family but the friends and family that want to offer quality support but just aren’t sure what is needed. Take the guess work out of the picture and everyone wins.