Dear soon to be dads:
Here’s what you need to know. The mother of your baby is about to need you more than ever. When this baby arrives, your relationship will shift. Her attention will be drawn over and over to this baby and sometimes you won’t be sure what your role is. You may not be sure how to help, especially if she’s breastfeeding, because baby will depend on her for both food and comfort. But you have a seriously important role to play and how you play it could either make or break this new relationship of yours. She will likely be exhausted and unsure of herself in this new role. She needs you to show up. Take care of her. There will be plenty of ways you can step in and take care of your baby, but she also needs you to be her biggest cheerleader and supporter.
Here are some concrete things you can do in those first months postpartum to create an unbreakable bond with your new baby and the mother of your child:
*Wear the baby- That’s right, those slings and carriers aren’t just for moms. Strap that baby on and go for a walk, cook a meal, go to the store, clean the house, whatever you want. Babies tend to love the closeness so they are content and your partner can get a much needed nap, shower, or moment to herself. Women feel a constant demand on their presence in the postpartum period, this is a way to share the load.
*Bring her breakfast in bed- After long nights of being woken up to feed this new human, mornings need to be slow. She is also recovering from all her body went through and she needs to take it easy. Breastfeeding moms tend to bear the brunt of night wakings, so make sure mom sleeps in and wear that baby while you make some breakfast. My husband did this for me for the first several weeks after our baby was born and I will never forget it. I was exhausted, so being able to sleep in and sit in bed, sip coffee, and eat while the baby laid between us was priceless for me.
*Change the Diapers- Literally the only time I have seen men boast about being weak is when it comes to diapers... You all talk about doing the most disgusting stuff, but a diaper is just too much for you? Come on. That poop is 50% your responsibility and we all know you love poop in every other situation. Jump up and change the diaper. I believe in you!
*Bring in some help- This time will be exhausting for both of you as you navigate how to parent a newborn. Set up a meal train, ask for GrubHub gift cards, hire out whatever you can. People want to help, line up friends and family to clean, cook, do laundry. Don’t try to do it all while mom recovers, you both deserve the help of your families and communities.
*Encourage her to contact other moms- You will be an amazing support to her, but you can’t carry it all. She needs other women who are moms to encourage her, support her, answer her questions and remind her she is normal. Women need each other during the postpartum period and she will likely feel more supported and content if she spends time with other moms.
*Lift her up- There is no job that leaves you feeling quite so inadequate as motherhood. Tell her she’s amazing. Tell her you’re proud of her. Tell her you’re so thankful she’s the mother of your baby. Tell her you’re both lucky to have her. You are, and she needs to hear it. And she’s lucky to have someone like you who is doing his best to support her.
*Get her outdoors- Nature is the best postpartum medicine. It’s rhythm reminds us that it’s ok to slow down and hold a baby all day. The sunshine lifts our moods. Being inside all day with a baby will likely bring on some level of depression or low mood. Have a picnic, go for gentle morning walks, sit outside with your coffee, just get that fresh air for both of you.
Now, gear up for this new little one. You’ve got this.