So, you’ve arrived at home with the baby and you both look at each other and go “What now?” What will the new routine look like? How can you participate when the baby just seems to need Mama? Here are a few ideas to give you a good start.
If you read the first blog in the Partner Prep series, you already know this one: see something, do something. If you know something needs to be done, do it before she has to ask or nag. Dishes, cleaning, laundry, pay bills, grocery shop, make meals, etc. There is nothing more attractive to a mom than someone ELSE doing the dishes (pro tip for a happy life!). Surprising her with her favorite meal also can’t hurt!
Do as much baby care as possible. There are a lot of things you can do that don’t involve breastfeeding. You can change diapers, give the baby a bath, and feed the baby a bottle of breast milk or formula. If the baby is awake and isn’t eating, spend time bonding. Read a book, sing songs, talk about your favorite sport, etc. You can help calm a fussy baby with the “5 S’s.” Swaddling, Side position hold, Shushing, Swinging/bouncing, and Sucking on a soother can all help calm fussiness that isn’t related to hungriness. Do the bedtime routine. You can also get up with the baby in the morning after the first feed. If you have other children in the home, take care of them.
Watch her for signs and symptoms of depression. She may have extreme exhaustion, intense irritability or anger, inability to do basic functions, not eating, not doing selfcare, not bonding with baby, not enjoying things she would normally enjoy, excessive crying, inability to sleep or sleeping too much, severe mood swings, severe anxiety or panic attacks, profound sadness, withdrawal from friends and family, saying she’s not a good mother, hopelessness, worthlessness, unable to concentrate or make decisions, thoughts of harming herself or the baby, or recurring thoughts of death or suicide. Know how to reach her doctor or midwife. Make sure she and baby are safe and not left alone if you see these signs. The number to Postpartum Support International is 1-800-944-4773. They do not handle emergencies though. You can call 911 or your local emergency number if it’s becoming serious. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
If she is breastfeeding, she’ll need a breastfeeding/pumping spot. You can help by keep it stocked for her. She’ll need a comfy place to sit, water, electrolyte drinks, healthy snacks, phone charger, breast pads, nipple cream, a blanket, and the TV remote or a tablet or a book. You can help clean bottles and pump parts. If the baby is exclusively bottle feeding, you can make enough formula to last for a 24-hour-period, portion out the powder into a container, or fill the bottles with breastmilk.
She needs the gift of time- time to be alone and quiet, time to shower and eat, time to sleep, time without anyone touching her. Make sure she has the time to do these things by doing baby care and making sure there is prepared food available. Take the baby and kids out of the house.
Get help! Get her friends and family to stop by, hire a housekeeper, have food delivered, AND call her Mama Coach. We’re experts on baby care, breastfeeding, colic, infant sleep, and much more!
Last of all, ask what she needs. She knows better than anyone what will take the load off her shoulders. Take care of your own needs. Don’t put more weight on her shoulders by asking her to do things for you that you can do yourself.
You’re on the right track to being the most supportive partner. You got this!