Involving family and friends in your pregnancy and first weeks with baby is a great way to extend the happy experience—and get a helping hand.
Before Baby Arrives
Strengthen family ties.
Having a baby changes the extended family dynamic. For your parents, their baby is having a baby. And they may be assuming the role of grandparent for the first time. Now's the time to bring everyone together by talking about what it was like when you were born, and the joys and struggles of raising a child.
It's also a nice time to connect with friends who've had children. Their newborn baby advice, stories and support can be comforting, as long as you can take strong opinions as just that.
If you would like a family member to help with labor, now's the time to ask. Having someone you love and trust nearby can be a great help to your partner. Be sure the person you choose is a relaxing presence. If not, you may want to consider having them help in other ways, and hire a professional labor coach, like a doula, instead.
After Baby Comes Home
Limit visiting hours.
Everyone in your life will be clamoring to see your new little one. Try to remember that these few weeks are a very challenging time, so be careful not to tire yourself out with an endless stream of visitors.
Don't be shy.
If parents or family members are coming to help, make sure they do that. Be clear that you won't be able to entertain them. Tactfully ask for what your new mom needs are, like a hand with the dishes or the shopping.
If you need privacy, ask for it.
Sometimes it's difficult to ask family or close friends to give you some space. But remember, these early days are a once-in-a-lifetime occasion for you and your partner. You are entitled to share them with as many, or few, people as you want.
If family members are going to help with childcare, be clear about your parenting philosophies.
New grandparents usually have an abundance of love and enthusiasm to share. But they may also have strong opinions on how your child should be raised. Be clear about what's important to you and your partner, so they can reinforce your parental decisions. And clarify how much they are willing, or able, to help.
Develop a community support network.
If no family lives nearby, try joining a religious or community group for new families. Many new moms swear by their mommy groups for friendship, support and a grown-up outlet.
Use technology to keep family and friends close.
It's never been easier to stay connected with loved ones all over the world:
- Email news and pictures.
- Create a website, with photos, updates, even audio and video clips.
- Burn photo CDs or DVDs of milestones to send to family members.
- Post photos on a photo-sharing site that everyone can access.
- Make holiday cards out of family photos.
- Leave voice mail messages of your child cooing or laughing (or talking!) for birthdays and special days.
- Scan your child's drawings to email or post on your website.