Written by Amy
I've experienced the postpartum period only once personally, but I am a doula and I've also assisted many friends through their babymoon times. I found my partner Jaymz to be extremely helpful and responsive to me during this very exciting and emotional time. It's my experience that partners generally want very much to be helpful and useful, but they don't always know what to do. Having a list of tasks can jump-start your brainstorming process and ultimately your success in supporting your partner through this time.
I've put together a list of tips and suggestions for partners, to help ease the pregnant Mama in your life through this huge and wonderful transition.
- Consider reading The Birth Partner in preparation for being present through labor, birth, and the early postpartum period. My partner read this book when I was pregnant, and he found it to be a very helpful and informative tool.
- If you work outside the home, take as much time off of work as feels comfortable after Baby arrives. Having you around the house to pitch in with midnight diaper changes and around the clock feedings will be an invaluable service to your partner.
- After Baby is born and you are home (if you gave birth elsewhere), take over at least one large household task that Mama usually is in charge of. (The laundry and the dishes are the biggest ones, I find). Make it your mission to stay on top of that task so that she never has to worry about it getting done. If you can, take on more than one large chore.
- If you have guests staying with you in your house, assign them each their own tasks: cooking, running errands, fetching snacks, etc. If you leave them without specific things to take care of, they might start doing things that are unhelpful. Better to try to keep them busy!
- Manage postpartum visitors as best you can: remind them to visit only for short periods (10-30 minutes) and politely ask them to help out around the house or with older children while they are there (if they are able). Consider keeping a jar by the front door filled chores written on small slips of paper. Each visitor is expected to complete a chore as a requirement to seeing the baby. If you're not comfortable asking guests to do this as they arrive, consider posting a playful sign on your door that will greet them with the expectation before you do.
- If you have older children, arrange play dates and special activities
for them with their closest friends (at the friends' houses, preferably)
so that Mama can have more time to rest and bond with the new baby.
When your older kids aren't otherwise occupied, take it upon yourself to
be present and parent them fully, to give Mama the opportunity to focus on the new
baby. Everyone in the family goes through a big changes with the addition of a new baby, and a little extra special attention for older siblings can go a long way to easing the transition.
- Make sure Mama has plenty of wholesome, balanced meals and snacks to eat. Remember that when Mama is breastfeeding, components of everything she ingests will be present in her breastmilk. Newborn stomachs can be sensitive to certain foods, so take caution when preparing foods for Mama which can be irritating to the gut. One rule of thumb is if it's a food that usually gives Mama indigestion or gas (like spicy foods, broccoli, garlic, cabbage, and dairy products, to name a few common ones) it could affect Baby the same way. Just use your common sense on this one!
- Make sure Mama always has plenty to drink. Make sure she always has water or another favorite beverage by her side.
Hydration is always important, and even more so when breastfeeding. Remember to limit caffeine (which can have stimulant effects on Baby) and avoid herbal teas which contain mint, which can decrease milk supply.
- Consider using an online meal registry like Meal Baby to organize meals on a schedule brought by friends and family. Spacing scheduled meals out more and more as the weeks go on will help you to transition back to being more independent without feeling quite so overwhelmed by all the tasks of running a household with a newborn.
- Offer to intercept phone calls, emails, and other social media interactions on Mama's behalf. She may be interested in continuing to stay connected, but if it is causing her stress or interrupting sleep, offer to have her dictate to you or let you take care of it completely.
- Help with scheduling postpartum checkups, early baby visits with your healthcare provider, and any other administrative tasks (getting birth certificate paperwork filed and such) that need to be done within a few days of the birth.
- Take photographs of Mama and Baby. If she is the one who is usually behind the camera in your family, there are probably very few of her together with your little one(s). Capture some of these precious early memories for her.
- Give Mama the opportunity to take regular showers, have regular meals, and have regular breaks from holding and caring for Baby 24 hours a day. You can hold Baby so she can take some time to bathe and feed herself baby-free.
- Be very supportive and encouraging about initiating breastfeeding. Offer to grab an extra pillow if Mama looks uncomfortable. Fetch her water. Assist her in putting together a breastfeeding basket that she can keep by her favorite nursing spot.
- Encourage her to ask for help when she needs it. (And you too!) It takes a village to help a new baby into this world.
- Above all else, follow Mama's lead. If she seems stressed, ask her what you can do to help. If
she seems tired, politely show your visitors to the door. The most important
thing about the early postpartum period is giving Mama and Baby as much time as possible together to sleep, cuddle, and bond together.
About the author:
Amy is a work from home Momma to one fabulous son,
Daniel. Amy writes about the things she holds close to her heart:
family, delicious food, and many aspects of natural parenting. She is
passionate about natural childbirth, breastfeeding, gentle, intuitive
parenting, and respecting all people, no matter how small. She’s
figuring it all out as she goes, following her instincts with her son
as her guide. Amy writes at Anktangle