New Moms need all of the help they can get, especially from her partner. Here is how a New Dad can support a new Mom after the baby is born.
There is a huge difference between the role of Mom and Dad after bringing home a baby. In a perfect world, parents would undergo the same physical, emotional, and mental experiences during the postpartum period. Unfortunately, we all know that’s an impossible scenario – even if the baby arrives via surrogate or adoption. Parents assume one role or another after a baby is born and often times Mom takes on the most responsibilities.
How can a New Dad Support a New Mom?
I don’t remember feeling unsupported after my first was born over nine years ago… not at the beginning. When my husband returned to work full time, my Mom and in-laws were very present – the fridge remained full, the house was always clean, and I was able to sleep soundly while the baby slept. But two months after Annabelle joined our family, everyone had to get back to their own lives. And that is when the real fun (or hard work) began.
The laundry pile was the first thing to go unattended. There were so many blowouts, so many spit up covered onesies, and not enough time in the day to wash, dry, fold and put away all those clothes. I had a newborn who did not like to sleep anywhere but my arms – so my arms were not free to clean or cook or even wash my own hair. I also had a newborn who did not take a bottle and screamed inconsolably if she wasn’t nursed in a timely manner. My first born required so much of my attention that I lost myself in taking care of her 24/7.
It was not until we had our third child almost two years ago that I experienced a fully supportive partner. My husband had no choice but to step into a more active role as Dad. I was repeatedly sick and suffering from postpartum depression for the first eight weeks after Arbor was born – so he had to do A LOT without me telling him what to do.
Do I fault my husband for not being as supportive after our first two children as he was for our third? NOT AT ALL. Not only did he work crazy hours outside of the home, but I also never told him I felt like I was drowning. We can’t blame someone for not doing something if they don’t know they are supposed to do it in the first place.
5 Ways Dads Can Help New Moms
This post is not meant to imply Dads (my husband in particular) don’t help Moms enough after a baby is born. I am sure there are plenty of women who feel fully supported by her husband after coming home from the hospital. However, the helpfulness can fade quickly once Dad goes back to work.
Most new Dads probably don’t realize there is more than one way to support a new Mom other than just being “a Dad.” There is a reason why they say a Mother’s mental load wears more than the father’s mental load. Most Moms are home with a new baby for the longest period of time, so without really trying – Mom becomes the primary parent/housekeeper/chef/etc.
1. Work together as a team and communicate communicate communicate.
We all know it takes two to make a baby. And two people can make a great team if they work together. Just make sure you’re communicating out loud with one another. Mind reading is not a real thing – so don’t sit around and hope each other knows what the other wants. Talk it out when you can – then divide and conquer parenthood together.
2. Don’t wait for her to ask, jump in when you can.
Taking care of a newborn is very overwhelming, especially when you have to take care of yourself (or even other children too!). Don’t wait for your wife to ask for help – jump in whenever you can. Do things she would normally do before she requests that you do it. Laundry, cooking, caring for the baby, cleaning…
3. Clean as if you live alone and someone important may stop over.
Can’t keep track of all the chores? Make a list. Don’t forget the following: Toilets should be disinfected once a week and the bathtub/shower should be scrubbed every two weeks. The stove top and counters should be wiped down every night. Vacuum vacuum vacuum. And don’t forget to dust!
And if you don’t like to clean and it’s in your budget: hire a cleaning company to come to your house every other week.
4. Give Mom a break without letting her know it’s a break.
If you’re home, just tell your wife, “I got this” and take the baby. Then remind your wife to shower/eat/sleep/go for a walk alone. If the baby cries, she’s hungry/tired/wet – she is not crying for her Mother. Just let your wife go do her own thing.
5. Tell her she is doing great at least once a day.
This one needs no explanation. Throw in an I Love You too – and she will definitely say it back.