Congratulations on becoming a dad. It’s exciting and exhilarating but it’s also exhausting and it can be damn confusing too, as you not only get to know your new little baby but you find yourself trying to figure out how to support your partner who seems to have turned into a completely different woman. She is exhausted from giving birth, flooded with hormones that make her cry whichever way you look at her and she seems so overwhelmed with love for your baby, you wonder if she even needs you anymore. If you are expecting a baby or you have a newborn, here are some things every new mum wants her partner to know (even if she hasn’t realized it yet.)
1) Take a babymoon
Just like a honeymoon is about getting to know each other away from the distraction and stresses of every day life, a baby moon is a time for getting to know your baby and adjusting to becoming a family. Take as much time off as you can and please don’t plan renovations.
Of course you will be so proud of your new baby that you will want to show him off to all your friends and family. Please stop right there! it’s important to limit visitors in the early days as your partner is recovering from birth and learning to breastfeed. She will be exhausted, hormonal and vulnerable. She’s also sore, self-conscious and overwhelmed. If she is struggling with breastfeeding, call the Australian Breastfeeding Association, get an IBCLC lactation consultant to come to your home or take your partner to a breastfeeding clinic (your maternity hospital may have one). Your support is the single biggest factor in her breastfeeding success.
Remember, the more rest and privacy your partner has now, the quicker she will recover and develop confidence Good friends will understand you asking them to give your new family some space. And, If you want to ‘wet the baby’s head’ with your friends, please do this before your partner comes home from hospital – she doesn’t need a hung-over partner slumped on the couch when she has been up all night with a newborn (newborns don’t get day and night sorted for weeks).
2) Give her a break
When you come home from work and the house is a mess and your partner is still in her pyjamas, in the chair you left her in with the baby, don’t ask her what she has done today and don’t give her advice. She doesn’t want to hear, “you could have got dressed while he was asleep (he didn’t damn well sleep. That’s why she’s still sitting in the chair in her pyjamas!).” And don’t dare ask “did you call the bank/repair man/my mother?” She doesn’t care. She is tired (even though it looks like she has done nothing except sit in a chair and cuddle the baby – who now seems perfectly calm because she has sat in the chair and cuddled and fed and burped him all damn day). Give her a kiss and a cuddle and ask her what you can do to help (see also, tell her you love her) Or, even better, make her a drink, get her some food and offer to hold the baby or take him for a walk while she enjoys a HOT cuppa or a shower. Tomorrow night, bring dinner home with you – she may have had a better day but she will love you even more for caring.
3) Put her to bed
Sleep deprivation is a bitch – you will be tired too but she needs rest to recover from growing, birthing and making milk for your baby. Rest now will see her recover and have more energy to enjoy being a mother – and more energy for having fun (and sex) with you, much sooner. Take your baby after the early morning feed and let your partner sleep in or take baby for a walk in a carrier (see, wear your baby) or pram in the evening or on weekends and send her to bed. Every hour of sleep is precious and will help her be a more patient mum and partner.
4) Do tell her you love her. A lot.
Tell her she’s beautiful. Thank her for your beautiful baby. It’s hard to feel
beautiful and lovable when you are covered in milk and vomit and can barely find time for a shower or clean clothes because you are so busy sitting in a chair holding and feeding and burping your baby all day. And if your partner is being a complete b**** to you doesn’t mean she doesn’t love or need you.
Remember, she is exhausted, hormonal and vulnerable, it’s normal for her to be emotional or teary. But do keep an eye on things, and support her to get help if she needs it – one in five women will develop postnatal depression. This is an illness. It is treatable, the sooner the better. ? If you are worried, call PANDA or go with her to your GP.?