Bringing a new baby into the family is both a joyous and stressful time. The experience is so personal, depending on a multitude of factors, such as a mother’s birth and fertility experience, her postpartum recovery and mental health status, other stress factors and how much support she has around her.
Support during the postpartum period seems to have been chalked up to one of those things that people either have or not. While this is true to an extent, as some mothers have an extensive support system of friends and family in close proximity while others may not have any support system at all – all moms could benefit from more support – and should plan for it.
As an expecting mother, we plan, plan and plan some more. We stock up on must-have supplies, decorate nurseries, align child care resources and more. However, we spend little time looking at how we will nourish ourselves post-baby and how we will ensure that we have the support system around us that we need. Part of the reason for this, is our cultural focus on the needs of the baby, rather than those of the Mom. However, in order for mothers to be able to provide the best care for their children, they must be supported.
Another reason that support isn’t necessarily “planned” is the assumption that support will be provided by friends and family or simply not knowing what type of support to request or plan for.
An article published on Mother.ly, which outlined several different types of support that new moms can access, said “Most parents appreciate the gifts, but according to experts, what new parents really need in the first month of baby’s life can’t be found in stores: We need support—from ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.” In fact, research shows that social support is critical for moms during the postpartum period and may even prevent postpartum depression.
So how can women prepare for the social support that they will need after giving birth?
Soon-to-be moms and their partners should do their best to create multiple layers of support. Regardless of how much support one anticipates or assumes they will have, they should think through multiple layers and types of support. Think of this similar to the way that you might think of your group of friends. There is the friend that is the confidant, there is the friend that you call when you need a laugh, etc. You go to different friends for different types of things and the same can be said for the type of support that postpartum moms need to thrive.
Community support can be a great supplement that is offered by friends and family. Support groups, new mom meetups (even in a virtual format) and breastfeeding support services can provide Mom with peer-to-peer or expert support from those who have a deep understanding of what the new mom is experiencing. Programs like NurturePA, provide an intimate level of support by connecting new moms with “mentors” who’ve “been there” to guide them through the challenges of pregnancy and motherhood and provide additional resources when needed.
When it comes to motherhood, the more support the better. Many moms find that having several different types of resources that comprise a holistic support system provide the peace of mind that moms need to thrive.
What types of support did you find most helpful as a new mom? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Are you a new or expecting mom or know someone who is? Click here to sign up for an extra layer of support through the Nurture Program.