Dad’s Support for Mom. More important than ever
Different societies and cultures have always known that new mothers need to be cared for. Traditionally, this role was filled by grandmothers, sisters, and female neighbours and friends. Those female support networks are not as available nowadays because new mothers often live far away from their own mothers and sisters. And female friends and neighbours usually work outside the home. That means fathers are now a very important part of caring for new moms.
Why Dad’s care for Mom is so important
Recovering from childbirth and getting used to being a mother is a really big deal, both physically and emotionally.
- It takes about 3 months after birth for a woman’s body to become “unpregnant.”
- She is literally falling in love with her baby. That’s an intense, emotional, and very important experience.
- She feels a huge sense of responsibility. When it comes to a baby’s well-being, moms feel that the buck stops with them. So your partner is trying to learn a lot about babies and how to care for them. She’s trying to learn it real fast. That’s pressure.
- New moms can be very emotional. Sometimes they start crying for reasons men don’t understand. A man’s response is often something like, “Just tell me what the problem is and I’ll fix it.” You know what? You can’t always fix it. And you don’t necessarily have to. But you can be supportive. Sometimes she just needs you to listen and be there for her.
How can you support your partner as a new mom?
Start by thinking about the kinds of practical help she needs. Here are some ideas.
- Do as much cooking and cleaning as you can, organize other people who can help with these kind of jobs.
- Screen visitors if she needs you too.
- Keep her company.
- Look after her: fetch things for her, bring her glasses of water when she’s nursing, give her breaks from baby care and hold her hand when she cries.
- Communicate: She’s got a lot on her mind. She may seem to want you to be able to figure out what she wants. And she will like it if she doesn’t have to always remind you that she needs help. But don’t rely on your mind-reading skills. Talk to her about what she needs.
Doing your share
OK, so you can’t breastfeed. But dads can do everything else – bathing, comforting, dressing, playing, carrying – can be done by fathers and mothers. Even with breastfeeding you can help by bringing her the hungry baby in the middle of the night, make sure there is a nursing pillow and a glass of water nearby or by helping to settle the baby after feeding.
You don’t need to share every job exactly equally. The point is to be aware of how much your partner is doing and to do what you can when you can.
Support your partner’s parenting
All moms (and dads) do a better job of parenting when they feel supported by the people around them. You can support your partner by lightening her load (as discussed earlier) and letting her know what a great mom you think she is.
“When I went back to work after our baby was born, as soon as I got home each day, I’d start doing the cooking and washing. I worked really hard. One day my wife said, ‘Stop that! What I really need is for you to take the baby for a half an hour so I can look after myself.’ I’d thought I was doing what she wanted. I should have asked her.” Peter, age 37
Supporting your partner is good for you too
Along with everything else, supporting your partner at this important stage of life will be a really good thing for your relationship. New mothers really appreciate the people who support them and right now, she needs your support like never before.