Why Get Help?
Denise Dame, the executive director of Good Beginnings, a free volunteer home visitor program that gives help to families with newborn babies, believes that having help is incredibly important for new parents. "Any family welcoming a new baby (or babies) into their lives could use a helping hand," Dame says. "Although a joyous time for new parents, the sleep deprivation, physical exhaustion, uncertainty about parenting skills, and newborn care can be overwhelming. Additionally, many mothers must prepare to return to work in six short weeks following birth."
Lynda Vernalia, mother of two from Westford, Massachusetts, says Good Beginnings was a lifesaver for her. "Once a week, Sandy came by for a few hours, sent me up for a nap, did my dishes, cleaned my kitchen, and held my Isabelle in between readying some kind of casserole for me to bake that night," she says. "I loved that day of the week, sure I would get the rest I needed, a ready-to-cook meal, and she was so good with my baby. For two hours I was in heaven."
Calling All Relatives
Many women have their mother or another close relative come in and help after coming home from the hospital. This often works out well, because the relative already knows your likes and dislikes and what kind of help would suit your family the best.
Dr. Sarmati Krishna, an OB-GYN with the Northwest Women's Clinic, had her mother fly out from India to be with her during her maternity leave. "I think it's important for the mother's physical and emotional well-being to have help during the adjustment period," Dr. Krishna says. "Caring for a baby is a lot of work and I feel lucky to have someone I trust so much help me during that time. I am very comfortable with my mom and I trust her instincts."
Dr. Krishna says that trust is a key component when you have someone in to help. Moms need moral support and someone in whom they have confidence. "It's almost worse to have someone not willing or able to put in the work it takes to help than no one at all," Dr. Krishna says. "For my mom, it isn't work; it's spending time with her first grandchild."
With today's mobile society and tough economy, it is often impossible for relatives to come and help the new family for an extended period of time. But there are alternatives. Some families find that hiring a housekeeper for a few weeks works well, while still others need someone to run errands for them.
"Each family can decide how to deal with handling household chores while they get used to their new baby and get the necessary rest to regain their strength as individuals and as a family unit," Dame says. "Hiring help is a great idea or asking family members or friends to pitch in can also provide some well needed relief from day-to-day chores."
Here are other ideas for hired help:
- Hiring someone to spend time with your older child during the adjustment period
- Having your groceries delivered
- Hiring a landscape company to take care of your yard work for a while
Between hospital bills and the added expense of a newborn, many families can't afford to hire help. That's why volunteer organizations such as Good Beginnings are so important. Look for similar programs in your city. Neighbors and friends who want to help but aren't sure how can also be helpful during this time. Having someone pick up incidentals, such as milk, bread, or diapers, while they are at the store can save you a trip.
If you belong to a church, ask if they have a meal delivery program. Having a few prepared meals each week can take a tremendous load off a new parent's shoulders. Also, check to see if your church's youth group needs a money-making project. Many teens have to earn a certain amount of money for their mission trips and you can often find economical household help.
Getting help with chores can free you up for what you really want to do—spend time with your newborn.