How Being Assertive Can Help You During Postpartum
On occasion, new moms have a hard time setting limits and asking for help because we're afraid of offending others or being a burden. However, the postpartum period is a very vulnerable time for women, and being assertive is a way in which we can take care of ourselves.
Of course, being assertive is always important, but even more so when a woman has just had a baby. The arrival of a newborn brings about enormous physical and psychological changes for women… as well as major changes in her responsibilities, daily routine, and ability to rest.
This is such a vulnerable time in a woman’s life that being assertive becomes essential. In other words, we need to learn to set limits and to ask for help.
As a human being, as a woman, and now as a mother, you have all the right to express your wishes and feelings. Yet, we often have a hard time doing so out of fear of coming off as selfish or incapable.
However, the birth of your little one and the months that follow are a challenge on a number of levels. Therefore, you need to make the decision to worry about your needs more than the opinions of others.
What does being assertive mean?
Assertiveness is a social habit – or skill – that involves being able to defend our rights without stepping on those of others. It includes a great variety of aspects that lead to harmonious and balanced communication. For example, being assertive means:
- Communicating in an honest, clear, and direct manner.
- Expressing our desires, opinions, and feelings.
- Defending our rights and needs.
- Knowing how to make requests as well as accept or decline the request others make of us.
- Accepting compliments and handling criticism.
- Doing all of the above without fear of judgment or rejection.
- Not violating the rights of others nor disrespecting them with our communication.
This isn’t always easy for us to put into practice. A good level of self-esteem makes it easier for us to be able to communicate assertively. However, even then, there’s a certain social pressure that exists, especially towards women, to be polite, friendly, and at the service of others.
Many times, assertive attitudes and behaviors are unwelcome, and even seen as selfish gestures. Just the same, we must remember that taking care of ourselves is our number one responsibility and there’s nothing selfish in that.
We need to be healthy in order to take care of our new little one. It’s not okay to overlook our own needs in order to make others happy.
Being assertive during the postpartum period
The arrival of a new baby is a stressful and vulnerable time in a woman’s life. Exhaustion, hormonal changes, and the fears that come with caring for a newborn are all part of this stage.
It’s a very demanding time period on a physical, mental, and emotional level. And many times, the behaviors, attitudes, and remarks of others make the burden even harder to bear.
It’s very common for family members, friends, and acquaintances to be unaware of the needs and state of a new mother. The excitement of meeting the new addition and the desire to help out can sometimes lead to actions that are unintentionally intrusive. At these times, what most women need is rest, privacy, and time with their inner family circle.
When a new mother receives visitors – be it at home or at the hospital – the nonstop flow of opinions and maternal advice can become overwhelming. However, in order to not come off as impolite, we hold back from expressing what we really feel and need.
At the same time, you may feel shy about asking for help with your baby or other household tasks. But taking care of a completely dependent newborn on your own is exhausting.
How to be assertive during the postpartum period
- You only have to receive the visitors that you want – and only as long as you want – at home and at the hospital. Don’t be afraid to deny or postpone visits, or ask visitors to leave. It’s about taking care of your own needs – as well as your baby’s – and others need to respect this.
- Make it very clear that you need to rest. If you have any doubts, remember that these people aren’t the ones who have to wake up several times a night to take care of your baby.
- Don’t feel like you have to do everything on your own. Asking for help doesn’t make you rude or weak. And asking your partner to do his share doesn’t make you bossy.
- Remember that you’re the mother of your baby and it’s you who decides how to care for him or her. You decide if you’re going to breastfeed or bottle-feed, co-sleep or sleep separately, use a stroller or a baby carrier, etc. Don’t take orders from others, and don’t be afraid to be firm if someone’s being intrusive. If you need advice, you can ask for it (from whoever you want) or talk to a specialist.
In conclusion, if you’re about to have a baby, prepare to give yourself the space you deserve (and need!). Forget about social qualms and conventions – what matters are your needs and those of your baby.
Don’t lose sight of your rights and don’t de afraid of defending them assertively whenever necessary. Don’t let anyone keep you from enjoying this precious and important time in the life of your family.