Help at Home
It's fine to say that you're putting on your nightgown and taking it easy for a week — but who's going to do the literal and figurative heavy lifting while you recuperate and bond with your baby? Family and friends may ask what they can do to help. Be honest and specific so that the help you get is the help you really need. Focus on the basics: meals, laundry, and short-term baby care while you grab a nap.
How can I politely discourage visitors?
Not answering the door is awkward and makes you feel like you're hiding in your own home. That feeling is compounded when that door is knocked on repeatedly or the doorbell is rung continuously. In order to politely preserve quiet and privacy, hang a simple note on your front door explaining that mom and her new baby are sleeping. Ask delivery people to not knock or ring, but let them know where they can leave packages.
If possible, have your partner take vacation days the week after you give birth. You both need time to spend with the baby so each of you can become comfortable with your new roles as parents. You may also feel most comfortable and least embarrassed asking your partner to help with your personal needs, like sitz baths and ice packs for your sore bottom.
Keep the cooking and cleaning to a minimum. You don't need fancy meals, but you do want more than fast food drive-through dinners. If friends ask, let them prepare or buy simple meals that can be easily reheated; let them throw in a load of laundry; let them run some errands or drive you to the pediatrician for your baby's first checkup.
Some families hire professional baby nurses or doulas for the first week(s) at home. It can be a welcome gift from grandparents, especially those who live at a distance. These professionals provide newborn care, meal preparation, light housekeeping (such as the baby's laundry), help with sibling care, and other tasks as negotiated. The cost for a baby nurse varies regionally, but expect to pay about $200 per day (may be significantly higher on the West Coast). A good baby nurse can teach you the basics of newborn care (how to give your infant a bath, for example) and can help you establish a routine to your day.
Most baby nurses are not registered nurses (RNs), but instead are newborn care specialists. A postpartum doula (from the Greek, meaning “a woman of service”) can offer similar services, and generally charges $18–40 per hour. Make sure that anyone you hire has been trained in infant CPR.
The advantages of hiring professional help in the first week at home are:
A professional is trained in newborn care and can give clear support to new parents. Grandparents may not have taken care of newborns in many years.
You may be less embarrassed or hesitant to give clear directions to someone you've hired, instead of a relative or friend.
You don't need to “entertain” or keep company with a hired nurse.
To find a baby nurse or doula, check with friends, your doctor, and the hospital for recommendations. There are also agencies that provide baby nurses. The Doulas of North America (DONA) website,