By Scott Scanlon / Refresh Editor
New moms don’t go from being who they were to a being a mom only.
“You want to add that on to who you are,” said Dr. Anne Curtis, chairwoman of the Department of Medicine at the University at Buffalo.
“But women also want to think they can do it all, especially a brand-new mom,” Curtis added. “You want to be Super Mom. I think it can be a danger when you say, ‘Nobody else can do it as well as I can.’”
New moms need to remember that they’re going to need help from dads, as well as family and friends.
Here are some things folks can think about giving you on Mother’s Day and beyond:
• “I remember thinking I didn’t need any gifts,” said Jo Freudenheim, chairwoman of the UB Department of Social and Preventive Medicine. “I just wanted my husband to give me a day off or somebody to give me an hour. I had a friend who baby-sat for my first daughter when my daughter was about 4 or 6 weeks old for few hours, and my husband and I went to a movie. It was really wonderful.”
• Dads have a key role, including helping moms grab sleep. Once a mom gets six hours every day, that’s good, Curtis said, but that can take a couple of months. Moms should be able to expect dad to take a feeding shift, even if it means her pumping breast milk for a bottle. Dad also can help change diapers and prepare meals.
• Another important dad role: “Making sure mom knows that she still is beautiful: ‘You’re not just mom but the woman I married; you’re still attractive and I want to be with you.’ Reinforce that part,” Curtis said.
• Other family members need to remember this: “The mother has less time for doing things,” Curtis said, “and probably would appreciate that [help] a whole lot more than everybody saying, ‘It’s my turn to hold the baby.’ The important thing is mom’s there to bond with the baby. What I think family and friends can do that’s most helpful is the other stuff: bring over a casserole, pick up groceries, clean.”
• Employers need to be flexible. The early weeks after delivery are important to take off, if moms can, “partly because your body’s recovering,” Curtis said, “and partly because if you have a baby who doesn’t let you sleep, how are you supposed to be able to work like that?” The Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to give you 12 weeks of unpaid time, and some companies allow a mix of paid vacation and sick time. Employers should understand that new moms will need time off for pediatric visits and may be sleep-deprived for the first few months. They also may need time, and a quiet space, to pump breast milk. New moms also may ask to ease back into work part time.