Dads-to-be and brand-new dads, this one is for you. If you’ve ever wondered how on earth you can help your partner while she endures pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum, we are here to help! While it may seem like all the work falls on mom, there is a lot you can do to make mama’s life easier.
Do your research: You can start helping from the moment you find out your partner is expecting. Just because you aren’t the one growing and birthing the child doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know anything and everything there is to know about pregnancy and childbirth. Take an active interest in understanding what is happening to your partner’s body during and after pregnancy. This will help you better understand how you can be supportive and helpful, and it means you’ll also know the right questions to ask her when it feels like things aren’t going right. Doing your own research will also help relieve the “mental load” your partner is carrying and make her feel like you are right beside her every step of the way. Try reading one of these books to help you stay informed: Dad’s Guide to Pregnancy For Dummies and The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be.
Be the gatekeeper. Once your baby arrives you will most likely have a lot of well-intentioned friends and family who want to come over and meet your little one. Make it your job to be the gatekeeper. Nobody comes over without going through you. Check in with mom on how she is feeling mentally, physically, emotionally and if she is up for visitors that day/moment. It’s common for new moms to feel pressure to see people before they’re ready, but remember that she is recovering from childbirth and even possibly a major surgery! Make sure everyone knows not to bother mom and instead check in with you regarding visits.
Find ways to help in the middle of the night: If you’re bottle feeding, find the right schedule that helps mama maximize her sleep. If you’re back to work and she is on maternity leave, you can take the first feeding of the evening so mom can get a solid chunk of sleep at the beginning of the night, or you could take the early morning feed to let her “sleep in” until you have to get work. Alternately, you and your partner could take turns getting up every other night for feeding duty.
If your partner is breastfeeding there are still ways you can help. Depending on the temperament of your baby it might take him/her a long time to get back to sleep after a feed, or they might require more physically demanding means to do so (a lot of rocking/swaying/bouncing). Check in with your partner, and if it makes sense, take over middle-of-the-night duties once the feeding is over. She can go back to bed and maximize hours of sleep between feeds. Either way, take advantage of the multi-functional Itzy Ritzy Milk Boss. It can be used to make both bottle feeding and breastfeeding more comfortable — a must, especially in the middle-of-the-night!
Help mama stay on top of medication/self-care: Going through labor is no joke and there is a lot of after care that can feel overwhelming and slip through the cracks if no one is helping mama keep track of things. If your partner is taking pain medication, set timers and make sure she stays on top of them so she doesn’t get to a point where pain is unbearable and then has to wait for meds to kick in. Put the Itzy Ritzy Milk Boss to good use and hold the baby while she takes her sweet time in the bathroom tending to the “situation” down there. And lastly, give her the time and space to take soothing baths and/or showers as often as she likes.
Be her biggest cheerleader: Those first few days and weeks home can be incredibly nerve-wracking, tiring and discouraging. You’ll be feeling it, too, but the physical aspect takes it to another level for mom. Be strong for your partner and always be the encouraging voice of reason to get her through the hard moments. Don’t forget to remind her how much you adore her and how excited you are to be on this journey of parenthood together. Even if (ahem, when) things feel like they are falling apart, it will mean a lot to her that you are such a source of positivity and help.