How often do you ask for help? Do you wait until you absolutely have no other choice? Do you feel guilty, apologetic or even ashamed asking for help? If you do, I don’t blame you. There’s this expectation that mums can just do all the things on their own because, well, that’s just what we think mums do. And while we are certainly capable of wearing many hats and doing many things, we’re going to let you in on a little secret today:
You are allowed to ask for help. In fact, you should.
We spoke to the amazing Amy Pasfield (Founder of Mother Unearthed) about why mothers find it hard to ask for help, and why there’s so much pressure on new mums. She said, “Mothers in the Western society are expected to be ‘everything’ to everyone and then be quiet when we fail and realise we are only one person.
“The pressure comes not only from ourselves but also from outside influences: the Instagram influencers who ‘have it all together’, the mother-in-law with her unsolicited advice, the mother from Mother’s Group whose baby slept through the night from birth.” (There’s always one, huh?)
“There’s pressure to ‘bounce back’ and look like we’ve never housed a baby in our body, to keep up with our former identity so that we don’t ‘lose ourselves’ to motherhood and to have a Pinterest-worthy house that doesn’t look like a toddler lives in it.”
“The pressure in Modern Motherhood is endless, the price you pay is a decline in your mental health.”
Yep, motherhood is FULL ON, and lots of mums can find it hard to ask for help. But there are some things you can do to get in the habit.
Open yourself up to receive
Motherhood is endless giving. Giving up your time, your body, your personal space, and sometimes even your career aspirations. Perhaps that’s the default mode we’re in after we’ve had a baby, which is why we struggle to switch to ‘receive’ mode and get help.
But Amy explained how important it is to receive.
“In order to have a postpartum full of connection, it doesn’t just require planning and honouring the first forty days, it requires inner workaround allowing ourselves to receive. So many mothers find this hard because we are taught to do everything on our own. Asking someone to do something for us that we are completely capable of doing on our own is a difficult process.”
So keep this in mind, Mama: maybe you can do it on your own, but you don’t need to.
“Although many women are really longing for support, we are subconsciously pushing it away,” Amy added. “We think we can’t receive and be in control at the same time, but in allowing yourself to receive you open yourself up to emotional connection and abundance.”
Explore your underlying beliefs
So why do you struggle to ask for help? Different women will have different reasons. Amy said, “We need to rip away the layers that lead us to believe that we need to do it all on our own and get to know the reasons why it feels hard to ask.”
It could be:
- Perceived sign of weakness
- Worry about being perceived as not ‘having it all together’
- Loss of perceived control
- Fear of becoming dependent
Understanding the root cause of your struggle to ask for help can assist in reframing your thinking, being kinder to yourself, and giving yourself permission yourself to reach out.
Practise asking for help
“Asking for help can be difficult, but the more you practice it the better at it you will become,” Amy explained.
(Hot Mumli tip: Try practising while you’re still pregnant. No one can say no to a badass pregnant lady, and it’s likely you’ll need help in some form, whether it’s lifting heavy things or by asking for a seat on the train.)
“When you ask for help, you are saying you can’t do it alone. But you’re not meant to do it alone. Not everyone will be able to help, and that’s ok, but there will be plenty who will welcome it, in most cases they just need to be told what they can do.”
The ‘it takes a village’ sentiment is so valuable, and is sadly something we’re losing in our society. But taking the pressure off yourself to be perfect and allowing others to support you is a giant leap towards nurturing your emotional wellbeing – particularly in that vulnerable period after you’ve given birth and are adjusting to a whole new way of life.
Identify things people could help with
Perhaps you want help but you don’t know what sort of help you need. One mother’s idea of help might be having someone babysit for a few hours while she sleeps, while another might prefer help with housework while she bonds with her new baby.
Help might be asking your partner to do a night feed for you (partners CAN be useful during your postpartum period, after all) or asking a friend to pick up some groceries for you. There are lots of ways a new mother can ask for help.
Try writing a list of things you’re struggling with, and brainstorming ways you could get help in that area. Add this list to your postpartum plan before you give birth, and chat to people in advance about how they can support you.
Have you struggled to ask for help as a mum? How have you overcome it? Share your story with the Mumli community by commenting below.
Expert Contributor: Amy Pasfield
Mama to two darling girls, Holistic Nutritionist, and Postpartum Doula. I’m a relentless advocate for the wellbeing of Mothers, striving to create a world where Postpartum Depletion was prioritised after birth and Motherhood and Martyrdom no longer existed hand in hand. Mother Unearthed is a holistic model of care provided at a time when women need it the mos