Having just had baby #7 almost a month ago, I feel I've got the experience to write this message and I would like you all to pass it along to new moms and to family members and friends of new moms. I have been through the wringer this past month, with a new baby, sleep deprivation, trying to recover physically and then getting an infection, along with trying to keep up with hubby's work schedule and my other six kids.
I know how overwhelming it can be to ANY new mom, even those who are having their first child or have smaller families than myself. There's something about having a baby that just takes a lot out of you emotionally, mentally and physically. Regardless of how you deliver, it's important that you give your body ample time to recover and you take breaks and rest whenever you can.
Now, my message to the family members and friends of new moms - If you are at all able to help a new mommy with household stuff, caring for the other children, caring for new baby or even can drop off a few frozen meals that simply need reheated - please, do so! Many new parents find themselves frazzled and over-tired in a simple matter of days, most of us WON'T ask for help or aren't sure which family members or friends we CAN ask.
If you, a friend or family member, have made the offer of helping a new mommy
(and daddy!) with something after they've recently added their new little one to the family, follow through. Even if they turn your offer down, make the offer again... try to find other ways to help. If nothing else, call a new mom and see how she's doing within a week or two. Post-partum Depression is far more likely to happen with a new mom who is overtired, overstressed and who feels isolated or like she has no support system.
Don't force your way into the situation, sometimes no really is just that, "No." But there are many new moms and dads out there who are afraid to admit they are overwhelmed and tired, afraid it makes them look like lesser parents or incompetent... simply make an offer of help occasionally and make sure you "check in" to see how they're doing. Even a new mom or dad who is afraid of what others may think of them and their parenting skills will end up admitting they are overwhelmed or be willing to let you help if they realize your concern and offer is sincere and without judgement.
And one more thing, new moms and dads - and babies!- need their rest and lots of time at home. It's not really ideal to expect a new mommy and baby to be out and about right away, going out to dinner, attending playdates or other types of functions. Make invitations, but don't pressure a new mom and dad to attend and don't make them feel guilty if they don't. A new baby in the house is an adjustment and it makes everyone tired! Don't drop in on new parents without checking to make sure it's okay first, don't expect them to entertain you and don't stay for long periods of time - mommy and baby need their rest!