People! Learn how to support your partner during postpartum. There, I said it! Ok, I’m going to be completely transparent with you guys… Postpartum sucks. I mean, it seriously sucks. And if you’re one of the rare mamas that had an amazing postpartum recovery and was surrounded by unicorns and rainbows, I applaud you! But for many of us, it friggin sucks. Whether you had a vaginal birth or a c-section, you’re in a fair amount of pain. Your emotions are wild, your boobs finally start producing milk and turn into lactating bowling balls. You’re wearing an oversized diaper and other sanitary napkins for weeks because you feel like you’re starring in Carrie
(Dear lord try not to cough or sneeze)
And your hair is falling out so much you start to feel like Gollum.
The last thing you want to have to do is be stressed out about your partner in crime. You know, the one that got you into this😂. But what exactly can they do to make this better?
Oftentimes, new parents struggle with trying to find a balance that is beneficial to everyone. Time and time again, one parent is doing a greater share of the work, while the other is left feeling excluded. They want to be involved, but they’re unsure how they can help mom and baby during the postpartum period, especially if mommy is breastfeeding.
Well, have no fear! Your days of feeling left out are over! Now’s your time to step up and help mama as she transitions into her new role as a mother (Don’t worry dads, I’ve got you covered too. Just keep reading).
Ok, so let’s jump into this now. We’re going to talk about your best ways, to help your spouse during her postpartum and breastfeeding journey.
Make sure she’s comfortable
When your significant other is breastfeeding your baby, she is trapped. Once baby is latched, her breasts are now hostage to your sweet love bug and she more than likely can’t get up. So make sure she’s comfortable and has everything she needs. Fill up her water bottle. Make sure she has her phone and the tv remote if she wants it. Bring her a snack that she can eat with one hand.
One of the crappiest things is when you get all comfortable and set up to nurse your baby. 5 minutes in you realize, you can’t reach the remote. Your phone is on the other side of the room. And am I the only one that gets super thirsty while nursing?!
Wash her pump parts
Pumping is a full-time job. It’s exhausting and time consuming. Can you imagine having to get set up to pump, then pump for 30 minutes and after your nipples have been tugged and pulled you then have to wash everything, put the milk away and go take care of baby (I swear they always wake up as soon as you’re done pumping). It’s a lot of work. So help her out! Make sure that the bottles and pump parts are washed and ready to go for the next session. It may seem like a small task but I swear, she’ll appreciate it.
Wake your ass up
I get it. Since she’s breastfeeding and the baby wakes up at night, there’s nothing for you to do right? WRONG! Have you ever had major abdominal surgery? That’s exactly what she had if she delivered by c-section. So now imagine trying to get out of bed in the middle of the night, getting the baby from the bassinet, and then getting in a position to nurse the baby. All of these movements require use of your abdominal muscles. The same ones that were just cut open and stretched apart. Sounds painful right?
Here’s how you can help
When you hear the baby crying, get up and get the baby. While your SO is trying to get situated in bed to nurse (Trust me, she’s struggling a little, but she’s too strong to show it) change the baby’s diaper and then hand him to her. If you must shut your eyes for the 15-30 minutes while they are breastfeeding, go ahead. But once she’s done, get up and take the baby from her to put back in the bassinet. Let her get adjusted back in bed. While she’s nursing, you can see if she needs a drink. Now I know what you’re thinking, you have to go back to work so waking up every 2-3 hours can be extremely difficult. I totally get that. Just remember, that by the time it’s time for you to go back to work from your paternity leave, your partner is better able to deal with her recovery.
If your SO is using formula or breastfeeding via bottles, take one or 2 of the nighttime feedings so she can get some rest. She has stared at you all night, thinking about how worthless your nipples are while you lay there, sleeping peacefully. Give her a break. It’s all about teamwork!
There’s been many a night where I’ve looked over at this man and rolled my eyes at 3 o’clock in the morning. Those nights where baby is cluster feeding are the worst. But don’t be like my husband. If you dare complain about how tired you are the next day, after you’ve gotten a full night sleep, you might be sleeping on the couch.
Your significant other just had a huge hormone dump. She’s dealing with fatigue, a changing body (that is likely painful), and a mess of emotions. Let her know that she’s doing a great job. Tell her how much you appreciate her. Tell her she’s beautiful, because I can assure you when she looks in the mirror and sees her tiger stripes and extra skin, 9/10 she doesn’t see beauty. It will take time for her to see how beautiful and magnificent her changing body is. That this same body brought a human into the world and it’s even more beautiful now than it ever was.
Her hormones may be all over the place, especially if she’s breastfeeding. She may even be one of the 600,000 women that suffer from Postpartum depression. Let her vent. Let her cry. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a man say to a woman “I don’t understand why you’re acting/feeling this way”. Or “it’s just milk. You can pump more”….Ok now, that second one, might send her into a rage. Just don’t say it. That liquid gold is priceless! Maybe direct her to my tips on breastfeeding to save yourself.
If you see her struggling with her emotions, try to talk with her to understand. Maybe talk to her provider with her to see if she needs extra help. But this is not the time to become defensive.
I’m one to fall victim to that. I’m still learning how to accept my body and to love it. It’s hard. You start to feel unattractive, you wonder if your partner desires you anymore and everyday you feel like you’re failing at motherhood. I get it sis.
Let her sleep in
There’s no reason why the one who is up all night with the baby should be the same one that gets up in the morning. So, when you hear the baby cry, look over at your spouse. She’s probably sprawled out over the bed, mouth open, drool, and boob hanging out from the last feeding. Do NOT wake her. For goodness sake, let mama rest. Pick up your munchkin, go into another room, and have some bonding time. Have a pot of coffee waiting and when mommy wakes up feeling fresh, you’ll see a total difference in her mood had you let her get up while you slept.
Mamas have been bonding with this baby for the past 40 weeks, reading books and blogs on different “How To’s” and “Tips”. She’s ready. And lucky for her she was equipped with lactating breasts to feed and sooth baby. Here’s the thing. Just because the baby starts crying does not mean that is your cue to hand the baby over to her.
I don’t know how many times my husband has come over with the baby with the most pitiful face and goes “Babe, I think he wants THE BOOB”.🤣
Attempt to calm the baby yourself. Grab some milk from the freezer and give her nipples a break. Show her that you know what you’re doing and that you’re confident enough to handle thing while she rests for a bit.
There is nothing more aggravating than to have your spouse constantly pressure you and ask you about when you’re going to be “ready” to be intimate again. Yes, the doctor has given the go ahead, but just because the doctor said it was ok to have sex again, doesn’t mean that you HAVE to. A new mama is battling a rang of emotions along with sleep deprivation at times, so the last thing on her mind is making sure you get one off.
With the many hormones going through her system, she may experience a low sex drive, particularly if you’re breastfeeding. Certain antidepressant medications can also affect libido. If your spouse is suffering from Postpartum depression and is taking medication for it, expect there to be some side affects. She probably already feels bad that she has no desire to take part in any extracurricular activities. So be kind. Try talking to her, gently, about your wants and how she feels. Be supportive. Find other ways to be intimate with one another. You never know, if you let her sleep in, wash the dishes, do the laundry, and cook dinner, you may be surprised at the end of the night😉.
Don’t make her ask
You know what needs to be done. You see her struggling. She shouldn’t have to ask for your help. If she does, that means she’s already reached a level of frustration. Look around and see what you can do around the house. Ask her if there’s anything you can help her with. Between healing from having a baby, getting very little sleep, and figuring out new motherhood, she shouldn’t be expected to wash the laundry and dishes, clean the house, and cook dinner. She also shouldn’t have to ask you to take on one of those tasks. Remember, teamwork.
*Side eyes husband*
Now ladies, you didn’t think this was just about you did you?
While you’re dealing with postpartum care and adjusting to life with a new baby, your partner has their own struggles as well. So how can you help them adjust?
Don’t hog the baby
Sis, hand the baby over. Let your partner get some snuggles in too. Did you know that skin to skin with your partner is just as beneficial as if baby was with you? So instead of stealing all the sweet kisses when the baby falls asleep during your nursing session, hand him over. Dad, take off that shirt and snuggle up under a blanket with your baby. Enjoy that sweet time together.
Even if this is not your first child, you’re both traveling on uncharted territory. There will be bumps along the way and mistakes will be made. Now is not the time to turn on your teammate. Understand that everyone is learning, so be kind and gentle.
Accept help offered
Let’s be honest. Your way isn’t always the right way. There’s always more than one way to do something. Stop trying to do everything yourself! You don’t have to be Superwoman and there’s no need to try to be. So when your spouse asks you “Can I help with anything?”, tell them. If you say “nothing”, don’t get upset later, if a certain task isn’t done. They can’t read minds.
The end game here, is to work together, communicate, and remember that you entered into this partnership together. Nothing will ever be perfect. Somedays you will have to give more than you receive and other days you won’t. Just remember that whatever you do, to take care of each other. If you start to exhibit any type of stress find ways to cope. Remember, you’re doing the best you can. A happy mama makes a happy baby.
Now stay tuned for next week Sis, ’cause we’re talking about birth control- Exploring your options!
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