How to get an extra hand
Accept this fact right now and you'll save yourself a lot of grief: As soon as you come home with that new baby, you will feel completely overwhelmed and at least a little incompetent. Hey, it happens to the best of us.
Mon Mar 31 2008
Photograph: Sarina Finklestein
Even if you run your own company or routinely kick ass in the Ironwoman Triathlon, you’re bound to find out that being a sleep-deprived new mom of a tiny creature who is 100 percent dependent on you is a whole different ball game. You will need help—and as well-meaning as your partner may be, anyone who hasn’t taken care of a newborn before will probably be just as clueless as you.If your mom is willing to move in with you for a week or two, and you can both survive an extended period of cranky time in close quarters, great. Otherwise, consider hiring a baby-care pro to help you with the messy, unfamiliar business of feeding, cleaning and diapering your little bundle of joy, who, let’s face it, is really just a bundle of bodily functions at this point. Yes, it’s gonna cost you, but don’t think of it as a luxury; think of it as a necessary mental-health cost. Numerous studies have shown that new moms who get support in their home have a lower rate of postpartum depression and a higher rate of success with breast-feeding than moms who go it alone. Here are some of the folks who can help you make it through the night:
Postpartum doula: Ten years ago, if you told someone you were hiring a doula, they might have pictured some sort of hippie-dippy spiritual adviser chanting mantras over your belly. These days, however, doulas have become increasingly popular—and more respected—both in labor rooms and at home, for providing continuous emotional and physical support as you deliver the baby and then during your first few weeks at home. “Everyone is so focused on the baby at the beginning that they sometimes forget to take care of the mom,” says Lori Becker, a Manhattan doula who cares for 25 to 40 new moms and babies a year. Not only will a doula help with breast-feeding and infant care, she may also cook for you, shop for you, fix healthy snacks, rub your shoulders, and act as a neutral sounding board for all your questions, concerns and emotional roller-coaster rides. “There are so many classes, books and doctors telling you different ways to take care of your baby, it’s nice to have one person to bounce ideas off of and help you find out what works for your baby,” says Becker.
The details: While some doulas will do overnight gigs, most work on a hourly basis (generally for around $40 per hour). You can find a list of postpartum doulas certified by the Doulas of North America at Dona.org. New York groups include Doula Care (212-749-6613), the Metropolitan Doula Group (212-252-2816, nydoula.com), In a Family Way (212-877-8112, inafamilyway.com) and Birthday Presence (917-751-6579, birthdaypresence.net).