I saw a comedian one time that made a joke about dad’s. He said, “One minute I wasn’t a dad and then literally the next minute someone handed me a baby and said congratulations dad. My wife had 9 months to build up to it, her body felt different, her hormones and emotions were changing. I just went along for the ride and then one day somebody handed me a baby.”
I think this is a pretty common feeling among partner’s in general. Growing a baby in your body is a different level of preparation that a partner doesn’t get to participate in. But they are just as vital and important in the journey of parenthood. Not to mention that the two of you have gone from a couple to a unit. It’s a big shift. You are now a family. So how can you navigate postpartum with your partner and come out stronger?
Open Communication with Your Partner
If you sat at the dinner table and silently wished your partner would pass you the butter but they didn’t. No matter how much you wanted them to just hand you the butter they’re sitting there enjoying the meal having no idea you want the butter. If you want them to pass you the butter it’s easier if you just ask. Now, sometimes there can be a breakdown between “please pass the butter” and them actually handing it to you, right?
Plus in this scenario you’re sitting at a dinner table with a newborn baby, leaking from every part of your body and haven’t slept in 4 months. I know it feels emotionally draining and overwhelming but if you can remember that you and your partner can’t read each other’s minds, it’s very helpful in managing expectations.
Ways Partners Can Offer Support
- Sharing Responsibilities: Divide and conquer. Taking care of a newborn is a team effort. The only thing mom has to do is breastfeed. That’s it. If you have decided to exclusively breastfeed and not introduce a bottle at all then yeah, when it’s time to eat mom is up. But everything else can be done by anyone else!
- Actively Listen: I ask my kids all of the time, what’s the difference between hearing and listening. Listening is an action word. If mom says “please pass the butter” do so. Just pass it. But remember this is new to both of you. You chose each other, you’re on the same team.
- Encourage Self-Care: This is crucial. Both of you need to be able to leave the house without the baby and without feeling guilty within the first 2 weeks. You don’t have to be gone long, just even go for a walk around the block alone. Call your sister and vent, have a hot shower with no interruptions, paint your toenails, do something that doesn’t HAVE to be done.
- Validate Each Other’s Feelings: It’s normal to both love your new baby and feel totally out of your depth. Part of being a partner is saying yeah, I hear you, this is hard. This is not the last time on your parenting journey that you’ll have to lean on each other and starting off on the right foot is important.
Getting Enough Sleep: A Game Changer
Sleep deprivation makes everything harder. When you’re sleep deprived you’re running on empty and your emotions are higher. Postpartum education is my passion because I have been dangerously sleep deprived and I know what the risks are.
What Does Sleep Deprivation Look Like
- Lack of energy
- Brain Fog
- Increased Appetite
- Headaches, muscle tension
- Excessive worry
Sleep deprivation can affect your ability to make decisions for your family, relate to your spouse, do your job at work, and your physical health. It is serious and should not be dismissed as “normal”. We would never go as long without eating or breathing as we do without sleep and it is just as essential. So what can you do?
When someone offers to help, say YES. Accepting help doesn’t mean you are a bad mom. It does not mean you can’t handle it. It means you are human and you recognize that it takes a village. You are not alone.
How Can Partner’s Help Out?
It’s normal for partners to feel left out at times, especially if the focus tends to shift primarily towards the new baby. Remember, the only thing mom HAS to do is nurse the baby. Everything else is up for grabs. Sit down together while mom is nursing and make a quick list of the things that need to be done in the next few hours. Your partner can do it. Have faith in them. It’s time to start working together as a team. You were a couple before, you’re parents now. The dynamic has shifted and if you can get started strong it will help immeasurably in the long run.
Are you having trouble connecting with your partner? Is your partner feeling left out or even resentful? This is normal but it doesn’t have to be the norm. Book a call with me so we can get your family started off on the right foot.