Do you have the perfect family and friends who know (or knew) just how to support you after your birth? They realize that recovering from childbirth, whether natural or otherwise, takes time, and that the new baby (or babies) need time to adjust to the world and bond with their new family. They understand how to nurture the new or growing family with food, household help and space.
Oh, that’s not how it was/is for you? Then we can help. It’s called Tips From the Doula and was written by our own doula extraordinaire, Erica Aday. It works well posted in plain view or distributed to well-meaning friends and family in advance of visits. Here’s how it goes:
Dear Friends & Family,
Thank you for supporting the new parents after the birth of their baby/babies.
HERE ARE 12 TIPS TO HELP YOU HELP THE NEW FAMILY:
1. Please wash your hands when you arrive and before handling the babies.
2. Be respectful of Mom and Dad's need for rest. Socializing can come later! This is "survival mode” now so avoid long social visits. Encourage them to nap instead!
3. Newborns can get overstimulated easily. Avoid loud talking, too much eye contact or handling by others in the early weeks. Protect and respect the baby’s/babies’ need for sleep.
4. Be respectful of Mom’s privacy if she is breastfeeding. This should be a quiet, peaceful time for bonding and getting acclimated to nursing. Do ask if you can bring her water or a snack, or change a diaper after the feeding.
5. Offer to wash dishes and/or bottles, fold laundry, do light housework such as load the dishwasher, empty diaper pails and gather up trash from garbage cans.
6. Help prep or provide a healthy meal. Ask if there are any dietary or taste preferences. Protein, fresh fruits and vegetables are best!
7. Offer to walk the dog or run an errand.
8. Spend a little time playing with or reading to an older child. Some special attention goes a long way!
9. If you help feed the baby/babies, please ask how to "pace" bottle feed as well as tips on burping.
10. Refrain from giving unwanted advice. Every family and baby is unique and sometimes hearing too many voices and opinions can be overwhelming for new parents. Respect their decisions and unique parenting style, even if it’s different from how you did it.
11. Don’t hesitate to ask how you can be most helpful.
12. Give lots of encouragement and LOVE to the whole family. They will appreciate the support.
Of course, you can edit this to fit your family as well as add additional tips that would be helpful to you. If you're done having children but others in your life could benefit from this information, please share it. And while you're at it, share with us if you have other tips to add.