As new parents there are things that you are learning every hour about your newborn, but one thing that you and your partner may not have put much thought into is how much they will have to care for you as well. Here are five things that new dads should know about postpartum life.
5 Useful Things Dads Need to Know About Postpartum Life
Taking care of a new momma can be harder than taking care of a pregnant momma.
When you are taking care of your pregnant wife, you don’t really have to worry about the baby. She does all that work for you. Yes, her hormone levels are changing, but not as quickly as they will be after birth. For first time parents especially, the first weeks will be hard. Both of you will need to adjust to less sleep. Before your partner had the baby, she was able to sleep when she needed too. However, now you will need to make sure that she is getting the sleep that she needs. She will have hands full with the baby and won’t be able to get food as easily. Also, because she is busy dealing with the baby, self-care will probably go out the window. Things like showers, shaving, brushing her teeth, etc. will take a backseat to the baby’s needs to be fed, changed, held, and cuddled.
How you can help:
- Take the baby for an hour or so while your wife takes a shower and gets dressed. Help her feel human again.
- Bring home takeout and a movie, then take over baby care so your partner can eat and watch the show. Have her nurse the baby then send her to bed early while you take over the first night shift with the little one. Help her get the sleep she needs.
- Pick up the groceries, being sure to get already prepped fruits and veggies to make it easier for your loved one to get good nutrition easily while you are gone during the day.
- Support her as she breastfeeds. Bring snacks and drinks so she can get the nutrition that she needs to feed your little one.
The hormone fluctuations are crazy.
Your spouse just gave birth, and her body is working overtime to bring in milk, facilitate bonding, and return her uterus to it’s prepregnancy state. Her hormones levels are going up, down, and sometimes it feels like sideways. She may cry often, at seemingly nonsensical things, she may find things extremely funny that really aren’t, she may anger easily, these are all normal things in the first couple of weeks. However, if you notice depression, extreme anxiety, days where she seems to cry all day, or just feel that she isn’t coming back to her usual behavior, you may want to talk with her about seeing her care provider or a therapist to rule out postpartum mood disorders.
Sometimes she just needs some hugs, chocolate and a bath.
New mommas get overwhelmed. It can be hard for them to learn what their baby’s cries mean, they are hormonal as we already established, and they are worried about all the stuff that isn’t getting done. The dishes sitting in the sink, all the laundry, the dust bunnies in the bathroom corners, all those things start to fill her mind.
Take her mind off those, bring her flowers, give her lots of hugs, buy stock in chocolate and bubble bath. Then make her eat the chocolate and take a bath.
Even though she isn’t interested in sex, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love you anymore.
Her body has been through a lot the last few weeks, if she is breastfeeding there is someone constantly sucking on her breasts, she isn’t getting much sleep, and she is always thinking about the things that don’t get done. Just because she isn’t interested in sex right now, doesn’t mean that she loves you any less. Give her time. Make sure she is ready. Give hugs and foot rubs without expecting anything in return.
Talk about expectations before the baby is born, make sure that your partner knows your love language, give her ideas on how she can show you that she loves you without putting pressure on her to perform in the bedroom.
She loves watching you take care of the baby.
New daddy, want to know the best way to get your wife to swoon. Love on the baby. Cuddle the baby. Take over bathtime. Change the baby’s diaper. Sing sweet lullabies and make up silly songs. This is the way to your woman’s heart.
Taking care of the baby, is taking care of your spouse. It gives her time to relax that knowing her baby is in the hands of someone else who loves them as much as she does. It allows her to know that when she wants to leave you two together she can do so with a daddy who is comfortable in his role.
These five things are things that all new daddies should know as they look forward to life with a newborn. What else would you add to the list?
Rebekah Thompson writes at Surviving Toddlerhood. She has been married for nine years and is momma to four little boys ages eight, five, three, and eight months. She is the author of The First Six Weeks: Thriving Naturally On Your Postpartum Journey and a certified birth doula through DONA International. She enjoys good coffee and tea, dark chocolate, running and learning as much as possible about healthy pregnancy/postpartum and fitness. You can check out her blog at www.survivingtoddlerhood.com