While he may not have your mother’s intuition, be able to breastfeed, or have your ability to wake up on full alert at even the slightest baby coo– there are still ways that your partner can support you and take a substantial amount off your postpartum plate. And chances are he wants to, but just doesn’t know how. Even though you’re ultimately the head coach of the family - he can be the quarterback! (How’s that for a guy-friendly analogy?) Here are five things he can do that’ll make all the difference in those first few weeks!
1. He can get up with you in the middle of the night. Let me say this again…he can get up with you in the middle of the night. Is this practical? No. Is this high maintenance? Also, no. This might be the most helpful thing he can do, and also the thing that will make you fall in love with him all over again. It doesn’t have to be forever – but even the first 1-2 weeks or until he goes back to work can make a huge difference for your psyche. Even though I was breastfeeding, my husband would get up with me every time the baby cried at night. He would then either go and get the baby, change him, and bring him to me in bed to feed, then put him back down after…or we would both get up and go into the nursery – he would change him and then I’d feed him in the rocking chair while he sat on the floor and talked to me. Having him “in it” with me during those first few days and weeks kept me sane, feeling supported, and not feeling alone – which can make all the difference.
2. He can be in charge of the house. I got lucky with this one because my husband is actually really good at the household duties. If yours isn’t, it’s still possible. You just need to be able to be clear about expectations and then…let Jesus take the wheel. Tell him what’s important to you (i.e. dishes clean and put away daily, counters wiped down, bottles/baby stuff sanitized, etc. – whatever is a non-negotiable.) From there – you need to let him do it. Don’t criticize him or tell him he’s doing it wrong. I find dishes in random cabinets on a weekly basis, then I tell myself the strainer being next to the wine glasses isn’t going to ruin my life. If he’s trying and taking it off your plate, just say thank you and try to take a nap.
3. He can figure out meals. If you’re lucky enough to have friends or family that bring you meals – that is great. He still needs to be in charge of figuring out when to eat what, when to thaw, warm up, clean up, etc. If you’re able to financially, think about signing up for a food delivery service for the first few weeks. Other good options are to buy Uncle Ben’s microwavable rice packets, frozen Steam Fresh Veggies, etc. Then -all he has to do at dinner time is microwave and serve. No other prep or clean up. I know this isn't necessarily the most healthy or "organic" way to eat - but those early days are survival mode only.
4. He can handle the output (because you handle the input). I only changed a handful of diapers the first two weeks. My husband and my mom did almost all of them. If I wasn’t feeding the baby, I was sleeping or trying to sleep or googling weird things that I was paranoid about. (Side note – a new mom’s Google search history in the first two weeks is the most bat shit crazy thing you’ll ever read.) Feeding a baby is a full-time job (x 1,000) – your support system can take on the diaper changes.
5. He can be your emotional cheerleader. There’s nothing quite like becoming a mom for the first time. You are emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. You feel elated…but also depleted, worried, ugly, and overall just not like yourself. I pride myself on being a confident, strong, independent person – but right after I had my son I needed my husband to remind me. He can tell you what a great job you’re doing, how much the baby loves you, acknowledge how much you’re sacrificing, tell you you’re beautiful, smart, and an even better version of yourself than what he married. This will go much farther than you think.
There’s my list of top 5 things your partner can do to support your postpartum experience! Is there anything I missed? Do you have any tips to share with future parents?!
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