Healthy Births Happy Babies – 7 Ways Dads Can Best Support Moms During Postpartum
Why this podcast?
This was one of the first podcasts that I featured on this blog but I have to admit that, lately, I have kind of forgotten about it. I thought about it just the other day and decided it was high time to feature it again!
This is a podcast hosted by doctors but geared towards undisturbed (or intervention-free) birth, which, rightly or wrongly, is not necessarily a combination you might expect.
Even if undisturbed birth is not your thing, Dr. Jay and his team cover such a range of topics that I know you’ll find a whole heap of really useful information.
I especially love that the podcast is aimed at helping families feel –
’’safe supported and empowered during your pregnancy and birth’’
Why this episode?
Firstly, dads are talked about a lot in this episode but there really are great ideas for all partners so please don’t be put off by that.
Many partners prepare to be a great support during labour and birth but don’t think too much about how they can be supportive once the baby arrives. The postpartum period can really be a huge adjustment and having in mind some ways to be helpful is definitely an advantage.
It might be handy to simply point your partner in the direction of this post so, with that in mind, I plan to address the partner here rather than the mum.
This is a follow up to an earlier episode on ways to support your partner during pregnancy which you can find here.
Ok, shall we just jump in?
#1. Take over the house
There’s a bit of an assumption being made here that the mother was the one doing most of the house stuff but even if you were doing half or more you can now expect to do everything, at least for a while.
The new mum is going to be busier than you can imagine with breastfeeding, comforting and bonding with the baby as well as healing from birth.
Taking over the cleaning, laundry, dishes etc is hugely helpful and doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself. Consider hiring a cleaner each week for the first few weeks or months or ask friends and family to help. You could even ask someone to organise volunteers and a rota as a gift.
#2. After work time is baby time!
At the very beginning mother and baby will be spending pretty much all of their time together but after a while, and especially once you return to work, your partner may be very happy to have a break and a bit of time for themselves (more on that later) after you finish work.
Days spent taking care of a baby can be tough so offering to take over for a while once you get home not only gives your partner a much-needed break but it also gives you some alone time with your baby.
And, on that note……………….
#3. One-to-one time with your baby
This time is so important. It allows you to bond with your baby but also to learn about them, their needs and wants.
Mums, especially breastfeeding mums, are with their babies almost all of the time. It can be easy for both partners to assume that only the mum really knows how to take care of the baby. This, in turn, can make mums feel overwhelmed by having all of the baby-care responsibility and partners feel insecure about knowing how to do that stuff.
It can become a vicious circle.
Spending regular time, one-to-one, with your baby will not only increase your confidence but may well become one of the best moments of your day.
#4. Alone time for mum
It’s very easy for mums to feel guilty about wanting a little time away from the responsibilities of motherhood but a bit of space can be super important.
Early on this may simply be a shower without having to worry about the baby crying and later on maybe a walk or lunch with friends.
As a mum of three, I can say that I consider these child-free times essential to my mental and emotional health.
#5. Be sensitive to the fact that new motherhood can be tough
This sounds like a fairly obvious one but it’s actually huge. The first few weeks are an incredibly steep learning curve for your partner and things, such as breastfeeding, don’t always come easily.
She may have expected to slip pretty naturally into her role as a mother and, although perfectly normal, there can be a lot of stress and self-doubt when that doesn’t happen. Friends and family may also be bombarding her with all kinds of well-meaning advice.
Add to that the shifting hormones and things can get overwhelming pretty fast.
Supporting and encouraging her to find and listen to her own voice and to trust her instincts is hugely important.
#6. Protect your cave
This sounds a little odd but basically, the first few months after birth can be seen as the fourth trimester. These early weeks and months are a time for healing and bonding. There should be no pressure to do much of anything else.
You have to do what feels right for your family but keep in mind that this is probably not a time for entertaining an endless parade of visitors.
Think about who you might want to visit and when. Keep the list very short at the beginning. Make sure people don’t stay too long and, if you can, find a way to make any visitors useful.
Maybe they can grab a few essentials from the supermarket on the way, bring a meal you can heat later or help with laundry or dishes.
Don’t be afraid to ask, most people are only too happy to help.
#7. Keep up the foot massages
Or, if foot massages are not your forte, whatever nice things you were doing for your partner during the pregnancy.
Not only is it a good way to stay connected and process the day’s events and challenges but it may help your partner feel that she is being cared for and nurtured at a time when she is giving so much of herself.
To wrap up
These are pretty simple ideas but I think that bearing them in mind could make both your and your partner’s postpartum time a more relaxing experience.
I’d love to hear how you supported or were supported by your partner postpartum.
Until next time!
Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.
This is beautiful! I struggled with postpartum depression with my first born.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. For a while after my oldest was born I suspected I had postpartum depression but I was lucky that it wasn’t. I had not been prepared for how overwhelming and intense it would be to be responsible for this new, tiny person.
I wish people were more open about the challenges as well as the lovely moments!