Once a baby is born, many dads aren’t sure what they can do to help. To them, it seems as all the baby wants is mom and her boobs. Dads can feel overwhelmed and helpless and, honestly, clueless as to what they can do to pitch in and help mom and baby. You need to remember; he can’t read your mind, so he doesn’t know what you need.
This is why I have come up with a list of things that I have told my clients’ husbands/partners to do when they bring their newborn home. Some of these things are physical help, but some of them help emotionally too. She needs all of this to feel like she has a partner in this and is not alone. So if you know a new, expecting dad that may be unsure of what to do or how to help. Share this post with him. Here is my list of how dads can help a new mom:
How Dads Can Help a New Mom
- Tell her she’s doing a great job.
- A lot of mothers doubt themselves and are wondering if they are doing anything right. Encourage her and let her know that she’s doing a great job.
- Tell her that you are proud of her.
- Tell her how much you love her.
- Make sure that she is eating enough (this helps with milk production) and help make snacks and meals for her.
- If you have to go back to work quickly, prepare some things before you leave for work and when you get back so that there are things ready for her in the fridge and pantry.
- You can also go pick up food-to-go or order in to make sure that she is taking the time to eat.
- Let her take a bath or a shower (uninterrupted) and allow her to take as long as she would like.
- I recommend taking the baby out for a walk to get some fresh air during this time. If the baby gets upset, then mom won’t hear him/her and won’t come rushing out of the tub/shower, defeating the whole purpose of her having this time to relax.
- Let her vent to you.
- If she wants to keep talking about her labor and the birth, let her talk about it as many times as she needs. Do not get annoyed by this.
- Listen to her.
- Being a good listener is vital. If she doesn’t feel heard, she’ll want to talk about things even more desperately.
- Be patient with her, and do NOT try to “fix” her.
- You need to remember that her hormones are all over the place. She just gave birth. Her body is recovering, and she is running on little sleep. She is going through a whole lot. Let her cry and be emotional. Simply be there to comfort her and be a shoulder for her to cry on.
- Encourage her to seek support with other mothers in the community and check in with her regularly to see if she feels she is coping well with the transition into motherhood.
- Get her a postpartum massage – the therapist can come to the house or have her get out of the house for a relaxing spa day.
- If you want to save money, give her a massage yourself. Holding a baby throughout the day and night can build a lot of tension in her shoulders and back. She will love it!
- Send her out for a haircut, color, or blowout so she can feel a bit more refreshed and more like herself.
- Don’t get upset if the house is messier than usual – pitch in and tidy up if things are piling up.
- Do NOT pressure her for sex or any sexual acts.
- Remember, her body is healing after giving birth. Intimacy will return soon, however, the pressure will not help the situation and may push her away even further.
- Buy her some flowers to brighten her day or get her a present for no reason. 🙂
- Let her take over the remote control.
- Send her out to buy a new outfit or two.
- After having a baby, her maternity clothes won’t fit exactly right, and neither will her pre-pregnancy clothes, which can leave moms feeling miserable with not much to wear.
Things Dad Can Do When She’s Breastfeeding
- Make sure she has a breastfeeding pillow, and everything she needs is close by.
- Bring her a glass of water – she always needs to stay hydrated.
- Make her a light snack while she is breastfeeding – bring it to her so she can eat between switching to the other breast.
- While she is eating her snack, burp the baby, and change the baby’s diaper. This will help wake up baby and be ready for the other breast.
Just know that being at home alone all day without any breaks with a baby is an extremely tiring and intense role. It may seem like she is hardly doing anything or nothing at all since she may still be in her pajamas, and not a single thing has changed since you left. However, tending to a baby all day requires a great deal of emotional and physical work. Not to mention, she has no breaks.
She may also feel isolated at times, especially when baby is crying, and nothing is working. That usually results in an emotional mama. Offering emotional and physical help is allowing her to heal, recharge, and become a better mother to baby and partner to you. It certainly makes mothering MUCH easier when mothers feel that they are being taken care of too.
Things Dads Can Do With Baby
- Make sure you learn how to bathe baby and change diapers – even those poopy diapers.
- Moms love it when dads take over a specific job or jobs. Many dads now do the nightly bath time routine to take something off mom’s plate and allow for some father-daughter or father-son bonding time. Having a routine is great for mom since this will give her a little time to herself.
- Take over some of the feedings.
- When baby is crying, try to soothe baby yourself so mom can have a break and won’t get overwhelmed or flustered with always being the one to soothe baby.
- Take baby out for a walk so mom can have some quiet time.
- If you have other children, help to look after them so that mom can adjust to life with a newborn again as well as giving her quality time with the new baby.
- This applies to the other children as well – all need equal one-on-one time with both parents.
Things Dads Can Do In The House
- If in the budget, hire a housekeeper, regularly, if possible, in the early weeks/months.
- If that is out of the budget, help clean the house yourself.
- That includes every room in the home, bathrooms too.
- Help with the laundry.
- You’ll be surprised how things pile up, especially baby clothes.
- Take charge of making sure that visitors don’t outstay their welcome or turn up at inconvenient hours.
- Hire a postpartum doula.
- A postpartum doula can help out with baby care and attending to mom, providing all types of support: light housework and someone to lean on in times of need.
- Take over some of the household responsibilities.
- i.e., paying bills, organizing “thank you” notes, making appointments, etc.
- Take over the grocery shopping or watch the baby while she goes out to get some alone time while getting the groceries.
A huge thing to remember is, if you see something that needs to be done, don’t leave it or wait to be asked to do it. Make a conscious effort each day to check to see if there’s anything you can help with and do it. If you can’t remember some of those things, bookmark this post. I’m not saying that you have to constantly be cleaning and be on high alert without having a rest or “you” time. You have a lot going on, too. But there are little things you can do while you are already in a specific room which requires little effort. By doing these little things each day, your partner will appreciate you more, and you will have an easier time in your relationship and parenting.