There is lots of advice out there telling you that it’s OK to turn away visitors if you want time to rest, or to bond with your baby. There are memes that ask every visitor to do a bit of housework or bring a meal before they ask to cuddle the baby. People will tell you to accept every offer of help and use the time to rest. “Everyone wants to help” they say, “you need to let them!” and “It takes a village to raise a child!”
So, what if you don’t have a village?
What if nobody comes to see you in hospital, or sends bunches of flowers? Perhaps you don’t have any visitors and spend your days longing for a bit of company, even if they don’t bring dinner. It happens more often than you might imagine, in fact very few of my clients have a lot of guests.
There are so many reasons you can find yourself without a village. Many people have moved away from the area they grew up in, they don’t have parents, siblings, aunts and cousins living nearby. Old school friends are scattered around the world and keep in touch online rather than in person. New friends are work colleagues or gym buddies, great for a chat or a night out but not people you can lean on in an emergency.
There’s nobody local who wants to hold the baby while you have a shower, who doesn’t mind seeing you in your dressing gown and doing the washing up before they make themselves a cup of tea.
It’s lonely being a new Mum without a village, and it can be very hard work too.
In some ways you can create your own village. Practical support is easily outsourced if you have the resources. If you don’t already have a cleaner or housekeeper, then look into hiring one. I suggest they start about a month before the baby is due, so you have time to get to know each other, and stay for at least the first six months. If you already have a cleaner, consider adding a few hours so they can do things like laundry that might not currently be part of their role. You can also outsource other tasks. I know of a family that hired the chef from a local pub when they had newborn twins. She popped round every afternoon with a freshly cooked meal and they just had to heat it up when they were ready to eat. You may also want to consider additional help like a babysitter for siblings or a dog-walker.
And just as you had a team to support you through pregnancy & birth it’s also possible to hire professional help for the postpartum period, like a lactation consultant, postnatal doula or me, a skilled newborn care specialist who will ensure you get the rest and support needed.
Of course, you will also want to make friends who can support you in this new phase. Attending antenatal classes or pregnancy exercise classes can be a good place to start. You never know when you might meet a new friend and at least you’ll have someone who wants to meet up for coffee and talk about baby sleep habits when nobody else is interested. Your babies may even grow up to be lifelong friends.
Be kind to yourself as a new mum, remember you are doing the work of a whole village!
If you need to hire a babysitter to hold your baby for a few hours while you take a nap, get your hair cut or attend an appointment then do it. If celebrity actresses can have a nanny on set, you can have one for a few hours! You need to take care of yourself. At the very least spend the time your baby is asleep doing something for you, whether that’s reading a good book or catching up on sleep.
A maternity nurse can also be a huge support. I am that person who will hold the baby while you shower and show you how to get them sleeping better by themselves. I’ll wash bottles and defrost expressed milk, make a cup of tea or even pack for a trip. My clients say they enjoy having me around for company, but I’ll also leave you to have family time alone when you want it. If you need to be, I can be your village.
Does that sound like the sort of help you would like in the early stages of parenting? Contact me now to discuss your needs!