Being a new mother is not easy. There are countless of challenges along the way. On top of all the responsibilities they should fulfill, there are emotional burdens they have to face.
They carry this heavy load and there’s no one but you to help them. So how can you do this?
Gone are the days when all the responsibilities of taking care of the newborn fall on the mother. No, we got so much better than that. Over the years, we gradually understood that it really is a partnership and being the parent who didn’t give birth doesn’t mean you don’t have a role to play. You do. Quite a lot actually.
Let’s talk about one specific aspect of early motherhood, breastfeeding, and how you can make it better for your partner.
1. Listen to what she is and is not saying
This piece of advice can come quite in handy in almost all aspects of a good relationship. Over time, you have established a way of communication that makes you more effective in expressing and understanding each other’s thoughts and feelings.
However, all of those may change after giving birth. Fluctuations of hormone levels affect moms greatly. More often than not, they don’t understand it themselves. That’s why a lot of new mothers tend to want to keep it in. As a result, it comes out all wrong.
Added to that is the exhaustion that breastfeeding causes. What most people take for granted is the fact that breastfeeding is a 24/7 responsibility for the new mom. You may think that it can’t be that hard. After all they’re literally just sitting there.
But think of the pain it might be causing these mothers, the sleep they lose attending to the baby in the wee hours of midnight, the exhaustion from doing a lot of work after the baby has gone to sleep.
It is your job to be extra sensitive at this particular stage. Even the littlest nuances could mean something. If she looks tired to you, 99.9% chance, she really is. So give her time to rest. Her eye bags are showing? Volunteer to feed the baby at night. A massage after a long day, a hug, a kiss, every little act of love can actually help take the exhaustion away.
2. Be a team
There is also something you are going through after your partner has given birth to your child. Whether or not you acknowledge it, the changes don’t only affect the new mom but it also affects you, their spouse.
One of the most common issues here is feeling left out. And of course, classic situation, you don’t talk about it.
I want us to emphasize three things on this one.
First, it’s not your wife’s fault.
Second, it’s not your fault either.
Third, there’s something you can do about it.
Yes, neither of you is at fault here. And for Pete’s sake, don’t look at the baby.
Your family is just becoming the receiver of a beautiful miracle as well as the victim of all its ramifications. I didn’t mean it to sound so negative but you know what I mean. Having a baby means a lot of changes.
Now, what you can do to avoid feeling as if you’re not a priority anymore is be active on the whole process. Put yourself out there and make your wife feel better by participating wholeheartedly. It’s really a win-win scenario.
Being a team also means having a system that aims to make it easier at home. You can help out with the chores, for example. Even if you are working, you can offer to wake up a little earlier to prepare breakfast while your wife is tending to your baby’s needs. Maybe you can have days when you’ll be the assigned for dinner. If your schedule doesn’t allow it, you don’t have to cook. You can have takeout, to give your wife a relax time to breastfeed the little one.
If your wife is breast pumping, you can take an active role by helping out with the storage. It will also make it possible for you to feed your baby to give your wife some rest. And if you have older children, it’d be your job to manage them.
3. Know it all
Despite being the most basic aspect of motherhood, there are a lot of things that can surprise new mothers when it comes to breastfeeding. There’s the pain they have to deal with, overwhelming emotions out of nowhere. So many things they don’t understand and would like answers to.
You can help by learning about breastfeeding concerns so that your wife won’t have to scour the internet for them. It will also make it easier for her if you find solutions.
For example, your wife may wonder how much milk your baby needs. Or she has to know about breast pumping. Or she’s feeling some sort of discomfort. Be a walking encyclopedia about breastfeeding and other aspects of motherhood and your wife will think you’re a blessing from heaven. (Not that you’re not already.)
4. Keep her happy
Despite the joy of having a baby to take care of, breastfeeding can also be very boring. Make sure that your wife stays entertained. Support her with doing things she loves. If she loves movies, you can have movie nights every week. If she loves music, you can create a playlist she’d love.
But there are also times when what she needs is to be alone. I know a lot of moms who feel guilty for wanting some alone time. I keep on hearing from people that being a mother means having no breaks. I really think there are a few misconceptions surrounding this.
For one, when a mom takes a break, it doesn’t mean she detaches herself from being a mother. An alone time could mean clearing out her mind. This is a good idea considering how overwhelming everything is at the moment. So encourage her to spend some time for herself.
Your wife’s journey in breastfeeding may be a personal one but you can do so much to make it a lot better for her. So try to do these things and more. If you have advice on your fellow dads out there, please share in the comments below.