Why Moms Have a Hard Time With Help
As a new mom, asking for help is complex. In this article, we will explore why it is hard for moms to ask for help.
Taboo ABCs of Postpartum: H is for Help
Hello, and welcome back to the taboo ABCs of postpartum. Today we are on H is for help. If we haven’t had the chance to meet yet, I’m Chelsea founder of Postpartum Together. We work to normalize all the changes and transitions in life after having a baby and make safe, supportive, empowering spaces for you to grow and really find your voice and your space as a new mom. And for some real raw postpartum talk, check out my interview on the Everything with Ali Levine podcast.
Today we are talking about help, and why it’s so damn hard for new moms to ask for and accept help. There are a lot of messages out there about how we should act and feel and operate. Messages about what we should or shouldn’t do as new moms. There’s a lot of pressure. There are a lot of places telling us what new motherhood is supposed to look like. And a lot of those messages are skewed on the side of not asking for and accepting help.
Will I Look Weak?
We believe many women believe that the need to ask for help looks weak. We are supposed to be mom. Moms are supposed to be strong, and we’re supposed to take care of it ourselves. Oftentimes as moms we don’t ask for help, because of the belief that it looks weak.
Embarrassed About What We Don’t Know
Another reason we don’t ask for help is because we’re embarrassed of what we don’t know. We’re told that motherhood is natural. Breastfeeding is natural. Going out with a baby is natural, all of these things. And so when we need some support and help we can feel embarrassed like we are supposed to just know everything.
Side note, no, there is no way to just know everything. And even things that are “natural” can be very difficult and can take the help and support of other people.
Fear of Rejection
Another reason I hear mom’s not reaching out for help, is this fear of rejection. Maybe it is from their partner. Or maybe from their own mothers, in-laws, or friends who are or are not already mothers themselves. We have this fear of rejection, this fear of seeming inadequate in front of other people.
Knowing How to Communicate Your Need for Help as a New Mom
Something else that can be really common and difficult for us is not knowing how to communicate your need for help. If someone says “How can I help you?” And you’re like, “Oh, my God, well, I don’t even know how to gather my thoughts. I don’t even know what to tell you. I don’t know how, but I could use help. Like I’m drowning here. But I’m not sure where to even begin and how to vocalize this.”
Write it out
A tip for that specific situation is when you are able, write out ways that someone can very practically and logistically help you. This way, when they ask you don’t have to wrack your brain or make something up. You can tap into this list. Maybe it’s on your fridge. Or it’s saved in your phone. Maybe it’s a picture, and you can just send it off and get the help that you need and deserve.
Who is on Your Team as a New Mom
Now let’s talk about who is part of this help after having a baby. If you have a partner, this is where we start communicating with your partner. The focus is on having honest conversations and connecting in an emotionally and mentally vulnerable way. Vulnerability is not weak. Being vulnerable is not bad. Vulnerability is letting someone into this really sacred space. And you as a new mom, your thoughts, your emotions, your recovery, are a sacred space.
So if you have a good strong relationship with your partner, this is where we want to tap in how to get together as a team and get that help and support around you.
Your Professional Team
Now also part of that is your professional team. And I’m talking about the built-in places and the people who are part of your hospital support team. This can be your OB, Midwife, or pediatrician. Also, this is the lactation consultant or social worker who comes into visit you after having your baby. When these people enter your life, instead of saying “I’m good. I’m fine. I don’t need anything.” Learn to vocalize.
“This is what I need.”
“X would help me.”
“This is where I need support.”
There is nothing wrong with that.
Allow them to do their job of taking care of you and helping you.
Friends and Family
Next, family and friends. Consider who you trust in your sacred spaces or inner circle. Who can you really get real with and go deep with? Are there people that you can have the more mental and emotional support from?
And consider the outer circle. Who is kind of in this outer circle of logistics?
Taking care of older siblings.
Helping with housework or yard work.
Picking up groceries?
Where does that help come in? Who do you want to actually sit in your bubble in your inner circle and be in there having some very important real places to connect? And then what are these other logistical ways people can help you?
Listen, you were not meant to do motherhood on your own. You are not going to take a reward for being supermom who never asked for help. Let these people in.
Hired Help for New Moms
And then lastly, consider where and if hired, help plays a role. Maybe it’s helping with baby sleep. It could be house cleaning. Maybe it’s a postpartum doula. What kind of help can come in and serve you?
These people have these professional jobs. Not because they are a luxury. We are created to have help and support. It is very normal and very natural to tap into that when we moved to a more individualistic society. These services are not built-in for us in the way that they were for our ancestors. Bringing in that support is a wise, honorable way to transition into motherhood.
I’m curious from you, is asking and accepting help natural? Does that feel burdening? Does it feel uncomfortable? What does that bring up for you? And why?
What does it mean to build a team around your motherhood experience?