Asking for Help

By Jennifer Bright

December 17, 2019 5 min read

It's all too fitting that "mother" and "martyr" both begin with M. Call it pride. Call it stubbornness. But a lot of moms are reluctant to ask for help — or to even accept help when it's offered. But why?

If someone were to ask you for help, wouldn't you be happy to give it? When people offer to help, let them!

Here's how our mommy M.D.'s — doctors who are also mothers — accept help.

"I'm a very organized person, and my husband is even more so," says Jennifer Bacani McKenney, M.D., a mom of two and a family physician in Fredonia, Kansas. "Plus, he likes to organize things. The key when asking for help is to identify what a person likes to do, and then ask him to do that. My husband likes organizing our daughter's clothing, so I say, 'By all means, go for it!'"

"Because I was so dreadfully sleep deprived, I learned early in my son's life to say yes to help," says Heather Orman-Lubell, M.D., a mom of two sons and a pediatrician in private practice at Yardley Pediatrics of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Pennsylvania. "The biggest mistake new moms make is not asking for help. You can't be good to yourself — or to your baby — if you're in a constant state of exhaustion. If a friend asks if she can come over and hold your baby so you can lie down, or if your mom wants to bring over dinner, say yes! It's okay!"

"When my younger son was born, I was living far away from my family, and my husband was working in a PhD program in another state," says Carrie Brown, M.D., a mom of two sons and a general pediatrician who treats children with medical complexities and specializes in palliative care at the Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock. "My aunt wasn't working, and she told me to call her when I went into labor and she would come to help me with my new baby. It was great to have her help me with the baby so that my older son didn't feel abandoned to some stranger in the woods. My aunt changed my baby's diapers and rocked him. She pretty much did everything for him for a few weeks, except breastfeeding!"

"New moms are often reluctant to ask for help," says Amy Baxter, M.D., a mom of three, CEO of PainCareLabs.com and a National Institutes of Health researcher based in Atlanta, Georgia. "In almost every culture from the beginning of time until now, new moms would be surrounded with experienced helpers. The first time around, you don't know everything you need to know, and you can't do it all by yourself. When things aren't going smoothly, it's easy to get frustrated and feel like a failure. It's helpful to make a list of the people who offer to help you. Then don't be afraid to call those people! This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. When people offer to help, they're generally sincere. When my babies were small, I took friends up on their offers to bring meals and to come and hold the baby for half an hour. When your baby is colicky and cries for hours on end, having someone else hold him for a spell is a huge relief."

Dr. Rallie's Tips

"When my youngest sons were babies, I finally learned how to ask my husband for help. He was really happy to pitch in, but he had trouble figuring out exactly what needed to be done. Instead of asking him simply to 'help me out,' I finally realized that I should tell him exactly what I wanted him to do. So instead of asking something like, 'Can you help me clean up around the house?' I'd have better luck saying, 'Honey, would you mind emptying the dishwasher and putting the stroller back in the closet?' I was hesitant to be so specific at first, because I thought he would feel that I was bossing him around. As it turned out, he was really relieved not to have to read my mind, and he enjoyed knowing that the work he did around the house was important and appreciated." — Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year," nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky

Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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