How to ask for help postpartum: A direct guide for people pleasers
Updated: Nov 2
Are you a people pleaser? If you clicked on this post, I’m going to go ahead and guess- yes. Asking for help is really hard especially as a people pleaser. It feels gross to inconvenience other people. But start practising. That whole village thing, sure it’s a cliché, but it so isn’t. You are not meant to do this without help. And you know what, if you really need a reason beyond just your own wellbeing, let that reason be your child. A rested, supported, loved mother/parent- has so much more capacity for parenting and caregiving than an unrested, unsupported one. You will be a better mom if you ask for and accept help.
It's not gross. It’s not entitled. It’s not selfish. Repeat that as many times as you need.
And I'll just relate this a bit to serving. I think I've made this analogy in another post somewhere but it's worth bringing up again. I waited tables for a decade. All through high school and university... a long time. And I worked my way up from busser, to host, to server, to lead server. Let me tell you what separates an okay server or a decent server from a fantastic one: The one's who can say "I'm in the weeds" , what this means is you're overwhelmed and you cannot maintain a great level of service without some support from your team. That's it. The one's who ask for help are the great ones. Remember that.
So start with a list of small home tasks or errands, jot them down in the notes on your phone so you don’t have to think about it when the moment arises- the [what should be inevitable] question “do you need anything?, what can I grab/do?” and if they don’t ask this question, prompt them. “Oh great so you’re coming by for an hour at 2pm, could you pick up some Burt’s Bees diaper cream from Shoppers on your way.” (note the specificity of this request and the defined boundary on the visit). Don’t let someone come to your house without picking up and/or doing one of the things on these lists.
Let’s repeat: Not gross. Not selfish.
Taking care of you is taking care of baby.
The people visiting you, they are going to want to hold your baby. What they want doesn’t really matter here. If you want them to hold your baby- then go for it. But remind yourself of what you might need, and if it isn’t to start a load of laundry, a shower or a nap might be an idea.
You don’t need another onesie for the baby. You need a shower, or a nap, or a meal.
I could write a book on this topic. But I’ll stop here for now.
Here’s a sample you can copy and paste into your notes on your phone to keep on hand for when you’re sleep deprived and also trending towards those people pleasing tendencies of yours and sloughing off an offer of help from someone:
- Could you fold the load of laundry that’s in the dryer?
- Pop the laundry that’s in the bin in the wash?
- Would you mind unloading the dishwasher/running the dishwasher for me?
- Could you restock the diapers in the baby’s room- the spares are in the drawer/closet.
- Could you empty the diaper genie? (If they haven’t had kids recently have a chuckle with them if they can figure out how to do it).
- Would you mind grabbing me a snack? There are muffins in the fridge?
- Someone a bit closer: Hey can you just give the living room a quick vacuum for me? (YES, FOR REAL IT’S OKAY TO ASK PEOPLE TO VACUUM FOR YOU)
- Could you clean those bottles for me?
- You know what, I really need a shower- could you hold this little one while I do that?
- Hey, we are running low on milk- would you mind picking up a 4L of 2% on your way over?
- Hey, I’d LOVE a breakfast sandwich and a tall decaf hazelnut latte from Starbucks- there’s one with a drive thru on your way over on….. wherever that is…
- Would you mind picking up a box of Huggies Newborn Diapers on your way over? Any grocery store or WalMart or Shoppers will have them.
By the way... this isn't just for the first 6 weeks postpartum... you're allowed to- and SHOULD ask for help ongoing. Imagine that baby of yours is all grown up- sure you want them to be independent, but don't you also want them to ask for help when they need it without guilt or shame? Point made.