The best ways to support a partner who just gave birth
This is a crowd-sourced list from the Oath community. The content has been aggregated by Head of Content and Community, Lindsay Meisel.
The content in this article has been medically reviewed by Certified Lactation Consultant, Julie Hartman.
We recently asked the Oath community to share the ways they felt most supported by their partners postpartum. There were so many ideas, and I was struck by how different "support" looked for everyone. I've shared the full list below—consider using it as a jumping off point for a discussion with your partner about how you will get through the intense early weeks and months postpartum. You don't have to set a division of responsibility in stone—things change so frequently once the baby arrives that this might always be a moving target—but it helps to get the conversation started.
I hope your conversation goes better than the one I had with my husband in my third trimester, when I said, half-joking, "Since I'll be doing all the breastfeeding, maybe you should change all the diapers." He was miffed that I seemed to be coming from a place of preemptive accusation. I got defensive. It turned into a big fight. Little did we know that feeding our baby would turn out to be way more work—for both of us!—than changing a mere diaper. He should have taken the deal when he had the chance!
- Give the baby a bottle of pumped milk if you’re breastfeeding. I pumped from day one so that my husband could give the baby a bottle. People said this might make it harder to establish breastfeeding, but it was worth it to me to get some time to myself (and breastfeeding worked out fine in the end).
- Hold the baby when mom is trying to have a meal; babies have an annoying habit of crying the second you sit down to eat! Breastfeeding makes you starving so I was always on the edge of hangriness.
- All of the diapering in the first few weeks
- Keep baby out of the bedroom for the first chunk of sleep at night
- Take baby for walks to give mom some alone time
- Fill my water bottle
- Take care of other kids
- Bring anything mom needs while nursing
- Prepare meals
- Wash bottles and pump parts
- Communicate with extended family
- Receive mom’s wrath whenever she’s overwhelmed!
- All of the cooking
- All of the cleaning
- Paying medical bills
- Scheduling medical appointments for mom and baby
- Developing rituals with the baby (cutting fingernails, a morning walk)
- Taking lots of pictures of mom with the baby
- Remind me when to take my medication
- Foot and shoulder rubs!
- Being patient and kind while hormones rage, not taking it personally
- Simply asking “how can I help?” goes a long way
- Paying attention to supply of toilet paper, kitchen supplies, detergent
- Planning family adventures to get out of the house
- Packing for said adventures!
- Be alone with the baby, whether that’s for a few hours while mom goes out to do something on her own, or for an extended period of time, like if you schedule some of your parental leaves to be non-overlapping
- Pick a topic to fully research and own, like sleep training, starting solids, daycare or nanny search.
- Drive the social calendar. It can be a huge lift on top of everything to coordinate seeing friends and family. And when there are get togethers, communicate expectations when folks do visit (like washing hands around a newborn etc).