Caring for the Caregiver

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Taking care of a baby is one of the hardest jobs on earth! Bringing the new little love of your life home from the hospital is exciting and exhilarating, but soon that sleep deprivation sets in and those rose-colored glasses are looking a little bit blurry.
You probably feel like you have to do it all and do it right, but you do not have to do it alone. It is really important that you take care of yourself first so that you can effectively take care of your baby. That might just mean a bubble bath now and then or it might mean seeking out professional help for post-partum depression. Either way, getting the necessary help is paramount for your health and your baby’s well being.
Think about what made you feel happy and fulfilled before your baby was born. Was it a good trip to the gym, cleaning the house and feeling productive, a latte, or a walk with a friend? Even if you are staying at home, there are ways to find little pockets of time for yourself and it is great for your mental health and your baby if you take advantage of those times. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone loves to hold a baby. A trusted friend or relative would probably love to come cuddle with your little treasure for an hour while you take care of yourself.
There is a stigma among moms. We feel like we have to do it all ourselves. We feel ashamed if we ask for help or even say yes to the offer of a warm home-cooked meal brought over by a friend. We need to let go of that and support one another and accept the support that is offered. Maybe there is an in-law or friend who can lend a helping hand in those first few months when there is no time to even wash your hair. Put down that guilt and pick up the phone!

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Here are some tips on asking for help from someone you trust:
1. Be specific with what you need. “Can you please come over for one hour and hold my baby while I get a shower?”
2. Share responsibilities with your partner. Set up “shifts” if necessary.
3. It is perfectly ok to say “no” if people want to visit.
4. It is ok to say “yes” to people who offer to bring a meal. You can even ask them not to stay this time, but come back on Saturday.
5. Put a note on your front door that says “mom and baby are resting right now. Please do not ring door bell.” And don’t feel bad about it!
6. Ask a friend or family member to take older children out of the house for a little while to give you time alone with the baby.
7. Ask a friend to pick up some necessary items for you next them they go to the store so you don’t have to take the baby out.

Even if you don’t have a partner or family to help you, there are resources in your community and ways you can get support.
Here is a list of resources at your fingertips on the internet that can be found in most communities:

MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) www.mops.org

Moms Club www.momsclub.org

Mom-mentum http://www.mom-mentum.org

Postpartum Progress http://www.postpartumprogress.com/ppd-support-groups-in-the-u-s-canada

Postpartum support international
http://www.postpartum.net

Baby Center http://www.babycenter.com/about

Co-parenting for child custody parenting plans http://www.coparenting.com

United Way https://www.unitedway.org

YWCA http://www.ywca.org/site/c.cuIRJ7NTKrLaG/b.9360173/k.1089/YWCAEliminating_Racism_Empowering_Women.htm

Life Matters online parenting classes http://www.lifematters.com/parentn.asp

Catholic charities
https://catholiccharitiesusa.org/network

Find a food bank at Feeding America
http://www.feedingamerica.org/about-us/about-feeding-america/

Homeless Shelter Directory:
http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps)
http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/programs/liheap

National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse
https://www.fatherhood.gov/about-us
1-877-4DAD411

Secrets for new dads app

Military One Source
http://www.militaryonesource.mil
1-800-342-9647

U.S. Vets

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