Once a baby is born, many dads aren’t sure how to help a new mom. To them, it seems as if all the baby wants is mom and her boobs. It’s easy for dads to feel overwhelmed and helpless. They may feel clueless about what they can do to pitch in and help mom and baby. Remember that he can’t read your mind and may not know what you need.
This is why I have come up with a list of things I have told my clients’ husbands/partners to do when they bring their newborns home. Some of these things are physical help, but some involve emotional support. She needs all this to feel like she has a partner and is not alone. So, if you know a new, expecting dad who is unsure what to do, this advice will be essential. We’ll explore 10 ways for dads to help a new mom and share how dads can help with breastfeeding, taking care of the baby, and managing household duties.
10 Ways That Dads Can Help a New Mom
Being at home alone all day with a baby without any breaks is an extremely tiring and intense role for moms. 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 much emotional and physical work. Not to mention, she has no breaks.
She may also feel isolated sometimes, especially when the baby is crying and nothing is working. That usually results in an emotional mama. Offering emotional and physical help allows her to heal, recharge, and become a better mother to baby and partner to you. It certainly makes mothering MUCH easier when moms feel they are being taken care of, too. So, here is my list of tips for how dads can help a new mom:
1. Tell Her She’s Doing a Great Job
Many mothers doubt themselves and wonder if they are doing anything right. Encourage her and let her know that she’s doing a great job. Tell her you are proud of her and remind her how much you love her.
2. Ensure That She Eats Enough
Ensuring she eats enough helps with breast milk production, so try to make her snacks and meals.1 If you have to return to work quickly, prepare snacks before leaving for work and when you return home. That way, there are quick and easy things to eat ready for her in the pantry and fridge. You can also pick up food-to-go or order delivery to ensure she takes the time to eat.
3. Let Her Take a Bath or Shower (Uninterrupted)
Allow her to take as long as she likes when showering/bathing. I recommend taking the baby for a walk to get some fresh air during this time. If the baby gets upset, mom won’t hear and come rushing out of the tub/shower. (That would defeat the whole purpose of her having this time to relax!)
4. Let Her Vent to You
If she wants to keep talking about her labor and birth, let her talk about it as many times as she needs. Do not get annoyed by this. Listen to her and be compassionate toward her experience. Being a good listener is vital! She’ll want to talk about things even more desperately if she doesn’t feel heard.
5. Be Patient With Her, and Do NOT Try To “Fix” Her
Remember, her hormones are all over the place.2 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. Be there to comfort her and be a shoulder for her to cry on.
6. Encourage Her To Seek Mental Health Support
Check in with her regularly to see if she feels she is coping well with the transition into motherhood. She may want to speak with other mothers in her community for support and advice. If she appears to be struggling with her birth experience or becoming a new mom, or you suspect she may have some emotional trauma from it all, lovingly suggest she speak to a professional.
7. Get Her a Postpartum Massage
Holding a baby throughout the day and night can build tension in her shoulders and back.3 So, get her a postpartum massage to help her relax. This can relieve tension and pain and help her sleep better.4 A massage therapist can come to the house, or she can get out of the house for a relaxing spa day. If you want to save money, give her a massage yourself. She will love it!
8. Don’t Get Upset if the House Is Messier Than Usual
If the house is messier than normal, don’t make her feel bad about it or pressure her to clean up. Instead, you can pitch in and tidy the house if things pile up. For instance, you can help vacuum, pick up after the kids’ messes, clean the kitchen, etc.
9. Do NOT Pressure Her for Sex or Any Sexual Acts
10. Pamper and Spoil Her
Buy her some flowers to brighten her day, or get her a present for no reason. Send her out for a haircut, color, or blowout so she can feel refreshed and more like herself. Or, 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, so having new items that fit properly can help her feel better about herself. 🙂
Things Dad Can Do When She’s Breastfeeding
Although dads can’t help with the actual breastfeeding, there are ways they can make the process easier for a new mom:
- Gather all the nursing materials: Ensure she has a breastfeeding pillow and everything she needs to breastfeed is nearby.
- Bring her a glass of water: She always needs to stay hydrated when breastfeeding. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, moms should have about 16 cups of water daily.5
- Prepare snacks for her: Make her a light snack while she’s breastfeeding. Bring it to her to eat between switching to the other breast.
- Burp and change the baby: While mom eats her snack, burp the baby and change their diaper. This will help wake the baby so they’re ready for the other breast.
Things Dads Can Do With Baby
Mom needs to take regular breaks to recharge and have time for herself. To help her rest, here are some things you can do with the baby:
- Help with bathing and diaper changing: Make sure you learn how to bathe baby and change diapers — yes, even those poopy ones! Moms love it when dads take over a specific job(s). Many dads do the nightly bathtime routine, which is perfect for father-baby bonding time.
- Take over some feedings: You can do some feedings in the middle of the night. Or bring baby to mom if she is breastfeeding (could also be expressed breastmilk to let her rest). Feed baby in the morning before work (again with expressed breastmilk or formula if formula-fed) so mom can sleep in.
- Try to soothe baby: When your baby is crying, try soothing them so mom can have a break. Then, she won’t get overwhelmed or flustered with always being the one to soothe the baby.
- Take baby out for a walk: As bonding time, take your baby out of the house and walk around the neighborhood or a nearby park. This can allow mom to have some quiet time.
- Look after your other children: If you have other children, look after them so mom can have quality time with the new baby and adjust to life with a newborn. This also applies to your other children – they need equal one-on-one time with both parents.
Things Dads Can Do in the House
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 if there’s anything you can help with. Here are some ways for dads to help around the house:
- Find a housekeeper: If it’s in the budget, hire a regular housekeeper in the early weeks/months. If that’s out of the budget, help clean the house yourself. That means every room in the house (including bathrooms).
- Help with the laundry: You’ll be surprised at how things pile up, especially baby clothes. By doing a load of laundry, you can help mom take a load off!
- Handle house visitors: Ensure visitors don’t outstay their welcome or show up at inconvenient hours. Share this with your guests: What to Do (and NOT Do) When Visiting a New Baby.
- Hire a postpartum doula: A postpartum doula can help with baby care and attend to mom. They can also provide support like light housework and be someone to lean on when needed.6
- Take over some household responsibilities: This could mean paying bills, organizing thank-you notes, making appointments, etc.
- Do the grocery shopping: You can help mom tremendously by taking over this chore. Or watch the baby while mom goes out to get the groceries, giving her some alone time.
I’m not saying you must constantly be cleaning and on high alert without resting or having “you” time. You have a lot going on, too. But there are small things dads can do to help a new mom (around the house or in a specific room) that require little effort. Helping out each day will allow your partner to appreciate you more, and you can have an easier time in your relationship and parenting.