If a doula is out of your price range, Casey advises, "Get to know the teenage girls in your neighborhood and have one come over after school each day. You can hold the baby on the couch and direct her in putting up decorations or doing laundry. When you feel comfortable with her, she can hold the baby while you nap. The $5 an hour is a great deal compared to professional doula prices." Check around with local church youth groups, too. Some of them perform community service by cleaning the homes of or doing light yard work for families with new babies.
"Let others take care of you and let go this year. Ask for help from friends, family, and your husband," counsels Dr. Mackey. Request that visitors bring frozen lasagna or a package of diapers when they come to see the new arrival. Whenever anyone says, "What can I do to help?" ask them to pick up a gallon of milk for you or grab a last minute Christmas gift while they're at the mall. Most people love to be useful and will gladly help in any way they can ... but you have to ask!
Less is Best
Some people tend to build up holidays, especially Christmas, into extravagant events and are disappointed when things don't go as planned. If you miss out on the caroling, church service, or family feast this year, remember that the holiday celebrates the birth of a baby to poor parents in a stable without an ounce of fanfare, so take heart that your holiday has something in common with the very first Christmas ... besides, you're holding the greatest gift of all.
This piece originally appeared in Nashville Parent Magazine.