Notes from the other side
Jan 27
· Written By
Lindsay Meisel

News flash: there’s plenty for dads to do postpartum

How dads and partners can “be helpful” in the first month postpartum.

One of the most infuriating experiences I had as a new mom was talking to the husband of an acquaintance who had a baby around the same time as me. “How are the nights going for you guys?” I asked him, while the mom was in the bathroom. “Oh, you know, everything is fine for me,” he said. “She’s breastfeeding, so there’s not much for me to do.”

He obviously was not aware that there is an entire profession called Newborn Care Specialist, which involves a very intensive training program that teaches people who are not moms to take complete care of newborn babies. They typically make around $30 – $50/hour. Some work overnight, some work during the daytime. Is there any reason a dad could not become qualified to do this? 

Of course there isn’t. Dads are fully qualified to take on their fair share of infant care—no professional training program required.

Here are some ideas, crowd-sourced from the Oath community, about how partners can be supportive to new moms during the postpartum phase: 

If mom is breastfeeding & pumping:

  • Dad can still give the baby a bottle of pumped milk (or formula, if you want) so that mom doesn’t have to be the sole source of food (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.)

If mom is exclusively breastfeeding, dad can still:

  • Bring the baby to her and put back in crib after; change diaper and soothe if needed
  • Do all of the diapering
  • Bring snacks and water (when you sit down to breastfeed a newborn, you often get stuck for 20 – 40 minutes!)
  • Keep the baby with you, out of the bedroom, for a shift during the night to give mom some uninterrupted sleep

Other ways to support:

  • Hold the baby if she’s crying when mom is trying to have a meal; babies have an annoying habit of crying the second you sit down to eat! (This one was SO important for me. Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories, and I was constantly starving, and constantly stressed the baby would start crying when I was about to eat)
  • Get used to being 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)
  • Own certain household tasks like meal planning, cooking, laundry, dishes, and/or bill paying
Lindsay Meisel
Lindsay Meisel

Lindsay is a mom of 2, writer, and leads Content & Community at Oath Care. She has been supporting mothers for the last 7 years through her work. As she puts it "The normal newborn experience truly shocked me: the lack of sleep, the trouble with breastfeeding, the pumping, just … everything. I’ve always thought of myself as an independent person who likes to do things on my own. But in the weeks and months after giving birth, I found myself longing to live as a tribe with other families."