5 ways your partner can help you during your postpartum

Have you ever thought about how tough it must have been for your partner to watch you labour? Okay, before you start belly-laughing about how easy they had it considering what YOU experienced (and yes, you have a point), hear us out for a second…

Unless your partner also happened to be your midwife, they would have stood there feeling utterly powerless, unable to relieve your pain or help you push the baby out (beyond yelling “YOU CAN DO IT” repeatedly). This feeling of helplessness can extend into the postpartum period for many partners. 

As the mother, you’re often doing a bulk of the work in the days following the birth. Amy Pasfield, postpartum doula and Founder of Mother Unearthed, said that “a mother’s mind is fixated on learning how to care for her baby during the first few months and it can often leave the partner feeling a bit lost, isolated and unsupported.” 

The fact is, they have a significant role to play too: helping you be the best mum you can be. By discussing ways they can help you when planning for your postpartum, you can navigate the tough early days as a team, feeling equally supported and involved.

Amy said, “It’s essential to discuss with your partner what they need to feel best supported in their new role and how they can support you in return so that it gives them a purpose.” 

That said, here are a few practical ways they can help you.

1. Being the gatekeeper for visitors

Having boundaries when it comes to visitors is so important during your postpartum period. Adjusting to a new identity and way of life, repairing from birth and surviving on very little sleep (unless you’re one of the lucky ones!) is one helluva ride. Having people intrude on this special time can leave you feeling exhausted, resentful and upset.

Amy advises to discuss visitor expectations well in advance of your birth, while you’re still pregnant. Getting clear on this and communicating your wishes with your partner will help them understand what you want or don’t want. And as an added bonus, you don’t have to feel like an asshole turning people away when you’re not up for visitors. They can be the asshole for you!

2. Helping with night feeds 

Yes, your partner’s nipples are useless. However, they can assist with night feeds in non-nipple ways to help you get some shut-eye

Your partner might be able to feed your baby a bottle of expressed breastmilk or formula during the night. Or if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, they can bring the baby to you, burp after the feed and resettle. They can also bring you snacks and ensure you’re staying hydrated.

A great way to ensure you both get some sleep is to set ‘shifts’. Perhaps you sleep from 8pm to 1am while they do feeds and resettles, and then you take over while they sleep (or vice versa).

Having partners involved with night feeds has a lot of benefits for you both:

  • It establishes a team mentality, so you’re ‘in this together’ and not shooting them dirty looks while they continue snoring.
  • It allows you to get a bit of extra sleep (even an extra 30 minutes goes a long way!)
  • It helps them bond with the baby (although there are lots of ways they can bond beyond bottle feeding.)

3. Doing housework

Your partner can also help out by shouldering more of the day-to-day household chores. Tasks like preparing meals, taking care of other children or pets, cleaning and getting supplies need to be done, but a new mum often has her hands full (like, literally full of baby).

Getting help with household chores doesn’t need to mean you lounge on the couch being fanned by a palm leaf while they do everything (although we’re not opposed to the idea). Amy suggested creating a clear schedule of who does what and when. You may even find that doing the dishes every once in a while can almost feel like a brief respite after hours of wrestling a baby onto your boob.

4. Keeping the fridge stocked 

Nutritious food is vital during your postpartum. Not only does it help you heal, replenish energy and avoid postpartum depletion, it’s passed through breastmilk to nourish your baby too. If your partner can’t cook to save themselves, they can at least order healthy meal delivery services.

Put them in charge of ensuring there’s nutritious food on hand and water always at the ready – because new mums need to stay hydrated too. (It’s recommended that breastfeeding women have 10 cups per day!)

5. Asking how you’re doing

With up to one in seven women experiencing postnatal depression in Australia, it’s so important that someone’s keeping an eye on how you’re doing emotionally following birth. 

Ask your partner to check in on you regularly and identify if you’re not your usual self for a prolonged period of time. It’s normal to feel off for a few weeks after giving birth, but if months pass and it’s not getting better, you may need some help from a medical professional. 

Your partner can also help nurture your emotional wellbeing by giving you time each day for yourself. And no, we don’t mean time for taking a shower… that’s just basic hygiene and everyone needs that. But having space, even just 10 minutes per day, for self care can help you remember that you exist beyond the confines of being a mum. You are your own person still! 

Meditating, journaling, watching Netflix, going for a walk, working out, getting a coffee… whatever self care looks like for you, try to work it in every day. Making your partner feel needed during your postpartum and giving them tasks to do will benefit you both. Remember:

  • You’re in this together, and work as a team even if one of you will be doing most of the childcare.
  • Communication is key, and will help you avoid conflicts especially when everyone’s tired and tensions are high.
  • It’s important to share the load of parenting, ensuring they get involved in tasks like feeding, bathing, dressing, and playing with your baby.
  • Your partner may be struggling during the newborn days, too. Their self-care needs should be included in your postpartum plan to ensure they can better support you. Amy said, “Along with the mother’s needs it is also essential to cover topics such as your partner’s self care practice and what they need to stay happy and content.”

How has your partner helped you during postpartum? Comment below and share any extra tips!

Expert contributor: Amy Pasfield

Mama to two darling girls, Holistic Nutritionist, and Postpartum Doula. I’m a relentless advocate for the wellbeing of Mothers, striving to create a world where Postpartum Depletion was prioritised after birth and Motherhood and Martyrdom no longer existed hand in hand. Mother Unearthed is a holistic model of care provided at a time when women need it the most.

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