Support is critical during postpartum, and your partner, family, and friends can significantly relieve your stress with their help. Here are five ways they can support you after birth.
The postpartum period is a time of excitement and newness but can also be a time of challenge.
Like any significant transition in life, there may be moments of pure joy accompanied by moments of frustration – sometimes minutes after the other – as you experience the adjustment of a new baby.
Receiving support from your partner or your support network can positively impact your mental health and recovery during this period.
There is no shame in asking for help.
Your support network is often wondering how to be helpful, and one of the most valuable things you can do is to be specific in your needs and ways that they can help.
Five ways your partner (or village) can support you
Below are a few ideas for others to support you and your baby while recovering from birth.
Keep in mind, not everyone will volunteer to help (boo!), so do your best to speak up and ask for help, making sure you mention specific ways they can support you.
1. Do their share of household tasks
With a new baby, the routine often consists of feeding, soothing, and sleeping on repeat. Your primary focus is the baby, and most other priorities fall to the bottom of your to-do list.
One way your support network can be helpful during the postpartum period is by stepping up to take other tasks off of your plate. (Ideally, they should be taking on some of these tasks pre-baby, too, but that’s a different article).
Some examples might be coming over and doing laundry (bonus points for folding!). Another idea is to order your favorite lunch or dinner meal and deliver it to your house.
You or your partner can also create a grocery list ahead of time of the items you often buy and send them to anyone who offers to help once the baby is here.
Even something as simple as offering to hold the baby so you can take a shower and have a few minutes to yourself can be helpful.
2. Listen, listen, listen
The experience of becoming a parent is a significant transition and one that often involves an identity shift.
It’s normal to have a range of emotions during the postpartum period, and having a partner or support network who can lend a listening ear as you talk through some of these emotions can be vital.
The skill of listening to listen (without the intention of offering advice) is a true art that can significantly impact a new parent. Plus, it’s essential that you have your feelings and experience validated during postpartum.
Ask your partner to try to “feel and not fix” when listening to you.
3. Encourage during challenging moments
There may be moments when you doubt yourself, and your support network can remind you that you’re doing a great job.
We are often most critical of ourselves, and it can be hard to acknowledge your personal growth and achievements, but your partner or support network has a front-row seat to this journey and can encourage you when you have these moments.
4. Initiate conversation around the division of labor
A new baby brings with it a host of new responsibilities. Having conversations around the division of labor and who is responsible for what before the baby arrives can help to ensure expectations are being met once the baby does arrive.
Who will take out the trash and recycling? Who will order diapers when they are running low? What about middle-of-the-night diapers?
It’s important to talk about this before life becomes busier with a baby.
In the book Fair Play, author Eve Rodsky outlines a time- and anxiety-saving system that offers couples a new way to divvy chores and responsibilities.
Read next: Four Tips for Sharing the Domestic Load After Birth
5. Remind you to find humor
Laughter is an instant mood booster, and some comedic relief can be welcome in those first few weeks after birth.
Whether it’s the fact that you and your baby may both be in diapers or the funny noises your baby makes when they sleep, there are moments worth laughing about, and your support network can remind you of that.
Watching comedy can also be an excellent way to pass the time during those nighttime feedings or when you need to take your mind off of something.
Final thoughts on support during the postpartum period
While these are just a few ways your partner or support network can be supportive, being open to support during the postpartum period is the first step.
Caring for a new baby is rewarding and challenging at the same time. Identifying ways that your village can support you during this time will allow you the space to bond with your baby as you get to know this new version of yourself.