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Why Grandparents Are So Important

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"I know just how you feel. The first few weeks are like a blur with so much going on, so little sleep, and so little time. But you'll get through it okay. I'm here to help."

These simple words can lift a new mom's spirits and reassure her that she's not alone. All new mothers feel overwhelmed, because having a baby calls for a whole new game plan. And who better to understand and help than you?

Not only have you been there, done that, maybe several times, but this time, you can view the situation calmly, from the outside. You know how you mobilized your support base by calling on your mother and friends and relatives. You remember how you were able to swallow your pride and decide that doing it all by yourself didn't make you a better person, only an exhausted one. Communicate this wisdom to your daughter.

Why You're Just the Person She Needs

You've spent years developing your own organizational skills and can now help the new mom get organized. You don't have to wait to be told what to do - go ahead and throw stuff into the washer, open the new package of diapers and stay with the baby while Mom takes that much-needed nap.

You also know the signs of fatigue and can probably tell the difference between baby blues and the first signs of postpartum depression. Baby blues is what new moms often experience between the second and eleventh day after childbirth, for anything from 24 hours to 7 days, and is primarily caused by normal hormonal swings. You may have experienced the same symptoms: tears, often for no apparent reason; wild mood swings; difficulty in concentrating; anxiety; and feelings of discouragement and vulnerability. What new moms with baby blues need most is reassurance that what they are feeling is normal and will pass.

What also helped you when you were feeling alone and vulnerable were rest, support and pampering from the people close to you. Remember? So one of the most important things you can do for your new mom is to help her get more rest. You are in such a good position to pamper and reassure her.

You might also remember those new-mom feelings of frustration, isolation, guilt, irritability, forgetfulness, and exhaustion caused you to use sharp words and make unfounded accusations. So you know that these are par for the course; don't take them personally. They are simply signals that the new mom needs a hug, a nap, a nice meal and even a little exercise to get back on track.

But what do you do if you see the unmistakable signs of postpartum depression? If the mood swings don't go away; sleep and emotional support don't help; and panic attacks, obsessive thoughts or extreme guilt set in? Help the new mom get to her obstetrician as soon as possible - and try to reassure her that treatment will speed recovery and is, after all, only temporary.

This information is not a substitute for personal medical, psychiatric or psychological advice.

 
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