If I could give a universal message to all my mom friends (hell, to all moms in general) it’s that you’re allowed to process and adjust to the changes your baby brings any way that works for you. However, as I’m getting ready to do the baby stage all over again with my second child, I’m approaching those first few postpartum months a little differently this time. I've realized there are requests you're allowed to make as a new mom, and unapologetically making those requests are going to help me get used to all the changes that are going to occur in my life the moment I become a mom of two.
After my son arrived, it felt like my whole world was turned upside down. All of a sudden, the stakes were too high to even pause and deal with the reality of my new life as a mom with a brand new baby because, you know, he needed something literally every few minutes. However, moms are still humans who have basic needs, too. Just because you have a baby doesn’t mean you stop needing to eat and sleep and bathe and change your clothes at least once every three or four days. Of course, I totally get the urge to put yourself second on your list (or third or fourth, depending on what other responsibilities you have) when you're getting used to parenthood. But still, you should be on the list.
For moms that are currently in this situation, or who are about to be, I’d encourage you to feel good (even proud, actually) about remembering to function while in the throes of newborn life. So, with that in mind, here’s what you have full permission to ask for:
Ask For Help
I'd like to offer a legit, genuine shout-out to all new moms who ask for help. You are the true heroes, and you deserve all the recognition for understanding the scope of your responsibilities, and ensuring you've got the proper resources and support to get through those early months. I could not have done it alone (although I know many parents do), so I'm right there with you when it comes to owning up to what you need help with.
Ask For Someone To Wash Their Hands
I normally don't make a habit of asking other fully-grown adults to wash their hands as I go about my day. However, when it came to my baby and holding him after he was born, I was all about it.
Ask For Sleep
Sleeping while a new baby is around is a delicate dance, and one that I was terrible at doing by myself. Yes, I was exhausted, but I also had a hard time relaxing enough to doze off when my son slept next to me. If I slept, who would watch his chest rise and fall with each breath?
Seriously though, if anyone else is in the same boat, you have my full permission to ask for help so that you can rest and recover from childbirth. You don't want to get so exhausted that you lose count of those chest rises.
Ask For Someone To Change What They're Doing While With Your Baby
Not long ago, I visited a friend with a newborn. My own son was about a year and a half at the time, so I was slightly out of practice when it came to newborns. She was quick to point out that I wasn't supporting her little one's head as I held him. Obviously, I needed the reminder, and nope, she definitely did not need to apologize for asking me to do what was best for her baby.
Ask For Coffee Or Water Or Snacks Of Any Kind
Let's be real for a second. If you've just birthed a child, no matter how you did it, it's still probably easier for almost anyone else around you to get up and go to the kitchen, than it is for you. There's no shame in asking someone to grab something for you if you're busy, tending to the baby, beyond exhausted, or your body aches.
Ask For Time To Yourself
This is going to sound silly, but it didn't really occur to me to let my baby hang out in the bathroom while I showered until we were a few months into the whole motherhood thing (I blame it on the sleep deprivation because, no, I wasn't exactly thinking clearly). So, when it came to my own basic care (some of which had to do with childbirth recovery), I often had to ask for back-up. Moms who do the same, I salute you.
Ask For A Break
Not to be confused with "time for yourself," which may involve, you know, eating and bathing and going to the bathroom. A break is when you don't actually have to do anything.
For me, this once looked like 20 minutes spent laying on the floor, zoning out and playing Sudoku while my partner tended to my newborn on the other side of the room. However, those 20 minutes did more for my mental state than almost anything else I could have considered at the moment. Sometimes it's needed, and I'm right there cheering for fellow moms who know themselves well enough to ask for it.
Ask To Be Heard
I don't mean just to be heard over a crying baby, but really, any time you find yourself needing to advocate for yourself. I had a pretty steep learning curve when we brought home our newborn, but I can specifically remember a time a few weeks in when I knew something was wrong with my own body (it turned out to be mastitis), and I had to be the one to speak up about it.
Ask For Your Partner’s Clothes
Honestly, if you haven't already been wearing them through the second two trimesters of pregnancy, I mean, come on. I'm literally wearing my spouse's sweats right now as I type, and even though our second child's due in a few weeks, I probably won't be giving them back anytime soon.
Ask For Someone To Help When You're Trapped
I legit cancelled lunch plans with people because I had a sleeping newborn laying on me. Whether that's happening to you, or say, you drop your phone when you're breastfeeding, or you need to text your partner in the other room to request a swaddle, it's rarely a bad thing to ask for what you want or need.