Do you know someone who’s expecting or recently gave birth? Here’s how their partner can be supportive in the sleepy first weeks.
With Mother’s Day approaching, I’m writing about celebrating motherhood from my new perspective as a father. My wife gave birth to our first child, a son, in early April. We think he’s precious, despite his nocturnal lifestyle. We’re reassured by the promise that his sleep habits will improve in due time.
It might seem odd to be offering parenting advice when I’m a little over a month into fatherhood, but I hope my experience can be helpful to others going through the same thing.
Speaking of sleep…newborns sleep a lot, about 16 hours a day. Yet they usually sleep just 2-4 hours at a time. Say goodbye to those glorious 6-8 hour stretches of sleep for the first few months. Encourage your partner, and yourself for that matter, to prioritize rest when you can. Visitors and your to-do lists can wait.
Help around the house.
If Mom is breastfeeding, their partner can help in other ways until the baby is drinking from a bottle. Change the baby’s diaper or soothe them until Mom is ready to nurse. Keep her nursing station stocked. Try to make sure she has a full water bottle, a phone charger, and snacks nearby.
You can also help reduce stress by taking care of other chores around the house like laundry, cooking, dishes, and cleaning. Trust me, there’s always more laundry to be done. It’s also normal if it takes you longer to get to these things with a baby. Don’t fret over it.
A quick note about grocery shopping… since having our son, we’ve ramped up our usage of Hannaford to Go. We order our groceries online and pick them up curbside. It’s a lifesaver and you should check if your local supermarket has something similar. We can both add to our shopping list and order the pickup at a time that is convenient for us. We’re determined to avoid stepping foot in a grocery store with a newborn for as long as possible.
Listen and Laugh.
Be present and listen to the new mom in your life to show you care. Laugh with her when something ridiculous happens. Childbirth brings a lot of powerful emotions like excitement and joy, but also fear and anxiety. When she’s feeling down and exhausted, offer encouragement.
Most new moms experience postpartum “baby blues” after childbirth. This may last up to a few weeks. Keep an eye out for your partner and check-in to make sure these feelings aren’t more severe and long-lasting.
Give her a break.
Perhaps one of my proudest moments of fatherhood thus far was taking care of my son while my wife got out of the house for a little bit. We also used this time with Mom away to introduce a bottle. To great success, I might add!
Prioritizing time for Mom to do things for herself is important. Even if it’s just a quick errand or a longer shower/bath at home. Partners can encourage this and help make it happen.
Go for a walk.
Suggesting a walk is always a good idea. Go for a walk together as a family. It’s amazing how re-energizing a little physical activity can be.
Accept help from others.
Ask your guests to help while they visit. Let them hold the baby so you and Mom can take a nap or get something else done. Ask them to help prepare double batches of meals and stock one in your freezer for later.
Check out our blueprint of a freezer meal if you want to try doing this yourself or for someone else.
Everyone, including moms, likes to hear they are doing a good job. Simple words of encouragement and support can go a long way.
Happy Mother’s Day!