Tips For Supporting Your Partner Through The Fourth Trimester
Maybe you are a new parent or maybe you've already done this a time or two, but one thing is for certain, a majority of Dads/Partners report feeling helpless during the birthing process. This feeling of helplessness can translate into not knowing how to help the new Mom when you get home with baby. I've said it time and time again and I will say it a million times more: bringing home a new baby is an adjustment for the whole family. And that is OKAY. Nobody expects you to have the whole thing figured out the moment you leave the hospital (although it sure can feel like that some times).
Here are just a few simple ways a Dad/Partner can not only help the new mom but also help themselves get involved so they feel included and have the opportunity to build a bond with their new baby.
Sharing Feeding Responsibilities
Now this may seem straight forward if you are choosing to bottle feed as both parents can be equally involved in feeding the baby their bottle as well as take turns preparing formula (please always remember to follow safe formula practices/prep).
What do you do if the new mom has chosen to exclusively breastfeed? While it may feel like you can't help you actually can! The Dad/Partner can bring the baby to the breast for the mom when it's time to feed (if she wants you too of course). This is a particularly great tip for nighttime feedings especially if the baby is sleeping in a bassinet across the room or in a different room altogether. Being up multiple times during the night to feed is exhausting but if you, as the partner, are able to support the new mom by helping get the baby to and from the breast this will help the mom not feel like she's suffering through it all alone. This would also allow her to rest a little longer or get back to sleep a little faster (remember while you may be able to go back to sleep during the feeding the Mom is awake throughout it).
2. Help Her Get In And Out Of Bed
This is a particularly important tip if the mother had a Cesarean but is applicable to all Moms. A Mom's body just went through a tremendous amount of work and strain to give birth to your new baby. Now Mom needs time to rest and recover although that is often easier said than done. Helping her get in and out of bed seems so simple and it is, but that's the point. It is a simple way to help try and reduce the amount of stress she is putting on her muscles so that she is able to heal and recover.
3. Just Talk To Each Other
Okay, I know you are probably thinking "well obviously" but to be honest while it may be obvious it's unfortunately something that gets pushed to the side. If you are already a parent I want you to think for a moment about when the last time you and your partner really spent some time focusing on each other and talking about something other than the baby. If you can think of a recent time, good, that is wonderful and you should continue to keep that communication line open. However, don't feel bad if you can't think of a recent time as this is something that most new parents really struggle to remember to find the balance and time for.
It is so important to find the time to just talk to each other, as talking will help the mother not feel so alone and is even a great way to reset your mind when the baby is being extra fussy. When a parent is home alone with the baby all day it can definitely trigger feelings of loneliness. By taking the time to talk to each other it can help the two of you feel reconnected, less lonely and remind the two of you that you are adjusting to this new life together.
4. Help Cook Dinner
I know, you both are exhausted, especially by the end of the day but as the parents you still need to eat. It can be very difficult to focus on cooking a nutritious dinner while also caring for the baby so by splitting up the tasks it makes it a little more manageable. Maybe you take over the job of planning and cooking dinner, or maybe the mom likes cooking and finds it an enjoyable change of pace so you bond with your baby while she cooks. Whatever way works best for the two of you, the job of cooking dinner will be a little easier and more enjoyable if you are able to help each other in some way.
5. Share The Responsibility Of Newborn Care
I wish this didn't need to be said and that sharing the responsibility of the infant's care was just the norm, however, it is unfortunately not. Diaper changes, bath times, nail clipping, getting dress, bedtime routines, feedings, etc. Share the responsibility.
All in all it comes down to this: share the responsibilities. Help the mom get the time she needs to rest, recover and heal. These are just a few tips that can be adjusted to fit what works best for you and your partner. Parenting is hard but it's going to be much better if the two of you are able to support each other through the adjustment.