Accepting Help: It's okay!
Earlier this week I was talking to a client about how challenging she finds it to ask for and accept help during pregnancy and postpartum. It's not surprising many women find this hard, considering American culture tends to value independence and individualism. Many people have a hard time asking for (or identifying!) what they need and want....or they struggle with perfectionism....Or BOTH!
But giving birth and caring for a newborn are undoubtedly times that necessitate a woman accepting support.
Recently, a friend shared with me YouTuber Taylor R.'s documentary of her experience trying Chinese confinement after giving birth in Hong Kong. It's fascinating to me to learn how different postpartum can look in other cultures. Check out Taylor's video here.
Did you know that in some countries, women spend a period of time (often a month or more!) in confinement, where they are waited on and expected to do nothing but rest and recover after childbirth?
This may seem like bliss to some. Or, to others, the Chinese confinement method may seem way too restrictive, Either way, I think there is benefit in considering that there are times in our lives (pregnancy and postpartum certainly being among them!) where we need a little more support. It's okay to consider your own needs and give yourself permission to be nurtured.
If you don't agree, stop and consider why. What beliefs or messages from your upbringing or past experiences get in the way?
Whether pregnant/postpartum or not, here are three things you can do to ensure you are getting the support you need:
1.) Sit in a quiet space for a moment, close your eyes, take few deep breaths, and truly reflect on the following questions:
- How am I doing overall?
- Where am I struggling?
- What would it take to feel more content?
- How can I move in the direction of getting there?
- Whose help do I need and in what ways?
2.) Once you identify any (realistic!) needs and wants that would improve your quality of life, the next step is to go after it. This isn't easy. Often, it requires shifting dynamics, setting boundaries with others, or being assertiveness in asking for what we want. Change is hard. It's a process. Boundary setting and assertiveness don't come naturally to most people. But they are things you can learn to do, practice, and get better at. (If you need help in this area, check out my workshop here).
3.) Set an intention to check in regularly with yourself to assess how you are feeling and identify what is getting in the way of feeling your best.
Accepting help isn't always easy, but in the long run it's what allows you to keep going.