In the world of motherhood, you’ve probably heard a lot about the postpartum village. It’s a buzzword that gets plastered everywhere, with everyone seeming to agree on its importance. But what no one discusses is where this village comes from. It’s like having all the ingredients for a recipe, but no instructions. Lucky for you, we uncovered the secrets to creating a strong support system during the transformative days of early motherhood.
The Myth of the Supermom
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of assembling your postpartum village, let’s debunk a little myth: the Supermom. You know the one—she effortlessly juggles a baby, a career, household chores, and still manages to look fabulous while doing it all. Well, here’s a little secret: she doesn’t exist.
No one, absolutely no one, can do it all alone, especially during those challenging postpartum weeks and months when sleep deprivation, mama transformation, and the infant care learning curve are at their peak. So, don’t strive for supermom status; instead, aim to be a well-supported, healthy, and content mom. And that’s where your postpartum village comes into play.
What is a Postpartum Village?
Think of your postpartum village as your personal hype squad, the people who are there to lift you up when you’re down and help you navigate the unpredictable waters of new motherhood. Your village is made up of individuals, both near and far, who provide you with emotional support, practical assistance, and a listening ear when you need it most.
So, how do I get one?
Identify Your Postpartum Village People
First and foremost, identify the individuals you want in your postpartum village. This isn’t just about close family members and friends; it’s also about reaching out to those who can provide specific support and resources. Here are some potential members of your village:
- Partner: If you have a partner, they can be an essential member of your postpartum village. Their emotional and practical support is invaluable during this time. If you don’t have a partner, identify your go-to person (or two!) that that you lean on for invaluable emotional and practical support.
- Immediate Family: Parents, siblings, and close relatives can be a great source of support, especially if they’re experienced parents themselves.
- Friends: Consider your friends who have been through motherhood or those who are willing to lend a hand. Even just having a chat over coffee can provide much-needed emotional support.
- Neighbors: Sometimes, your neighbors can be a godsend. They’re nearby and can help with small errands, like picking up groceries or running the occasional load of laundry.
- Support Groups: Online or in-person support groups can connect you with other new moms who are going through similar experiences.
- Professional Support: Don’t hesitate to seek out professionals like lactation consultants, postpartum doulas, and therapists if needed. Their expertise can be invaluable.
- Community Resources: Explore local resources like parenting classes, childcare facilities, and community groups in your area.
Have “The Talk” with Your Postpartum Village People
Once you’ve identified the key members of your postpartum village, it’s time to have “The Talk.” No, not that awkward relationship talk—this one’s about letting them know what you envision your village to look like. Here’s some things to discuss:
- What they mean to you: Let them know how meaningful their relationship is to you and how it positively impacts your life.
- How you’d like to lean on them: Tell your funny friend they make you laugh and you might be calling for a pick me up every now and then. If your mom loves to do dishes, let her know that you’ll be calling for some cleaning help if she’s up for it.
- Availability: Let your village people know when you might need their help and how often. Are you looking for daily visits, weekly check-ins, or just an on-call lifeline and are they available?
- Your needs are likely to change: It’s helpful to set expectations, and also to let your village know to roll with the punches. Start by setting the boundaries you need, and know that it’s perfectly fine to say, “I know we’d planned to have your help with the baby, but I need some alone time right now.”
- Emergency Plans: Discuss what to do in case of an emergency or if you need immediate assistance.
Take it One Day at a Time
Here’s where many new moms stumble: they hesitate to accept help when it’s offered. Your postpartum village wants to help you; it’s why they’re part of your village in the first place. So, don’t be shy about accepting that lasagna from your neighbor or letting your mom watch the baby while you take a nap. Remember, it takes a village!
Communicate Your Needs
Nobody in your postpartum village is a mind-reader. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, tired, or just need a break, communicate your needs. It’s okay to say, “I could really use some help with the baby today” or “I’m feeling emotional; can we talk?”. Being direct and specific with the things you need is very helpful for those in your village who want to be supportive of your recovery. Here is a great article from Today’s Parent with 12 tips on how to ask for help with you new baby.
Self-Care is Not Selfish
Assemble your postpartum village, but don’t forget about yourself. Self-care is not selfish; it’s essential. Taking time for yourself is not only beneficial for your well-being but also for your baby. A content, relaxed mom is a better mom. So, whether it’s a bubble bath, a book, a walk in the park, or a solo coffee date, make sure to carve out some “you” time. Here is a powerful article from the Washington Post on how moms are putting off care for themselves after birth.
Your postpartum village doesn’t have to be static. It can evolve as your needs change. If your baby grows older and you need more assistance with childcare, or if you find yourself struggling with postpartum depression and need specialized support, don’t hesitate to adjust your village roster accordingly.
Building your postpartum village is not only a smart move; it’s a necessary one. New motherhood is a rollercoaster ride with steep climbs, sudden drops, and plenty of twists and turns. But with the right support system in place, you’ll be better equipped to handle it all.
So, reach out to your partner, your family, your friends, and anyone else who can lend a hand. Be open about your needs, communicate your boundaries, and don’t forget to take care of yourself. You may not be a Supermom, but you can be a super-supported mom, and that’s the next best thing. Welcome to the wild and wonderful world of motherhood—you’ve got this!