I remember the first week of my first daughter’s life so vividly, it was such a special time. My second child, not so much. It was a blur of unhinged hormones, no sleep and a toddler to also look after, both physically and emotionally. But despite two very different experiences, there was one constant. My husband. I don’t know what I would have done without him. A partner’s role in the first few weeks of a new babies life can be a difficult one. If the baby is breastfed, it can feel like there isn’t much for a partner to do. Not true! Here are ten things you (the partner) can do in those early days.
Change nappies! Putting a side the less savory aspect of changing nappies (meconium poo anyone – by the way, it looks like black tar!!) changing nappies is a wonderful way for you to be able to spend some time with baby and bond with them (and give mum a break). This includes in the middle of the night. Whilst you can’t do the night feeds, you can help change the baby and allow mum a few more minutes rest.
Baby Massage – now while a newborn won’t actually be having much awake time beyond feeding and nappy change, getting into the habit of doing baby massage is a wonderful bonding experience. Even a minute or two after nappy change or bath is enough.
Bathing baby – you may be starting to see a theme emerge here. Basically all tasks that can be done with the baby beside breastfeeding are ones you can do! Bathing is also an amazing way to bond with the baby.
Skin on skin the benefits of skin-to-skin care with babies are well documented. Spending some time with the baby skin to skin is a fabulous way to bond and connect.
Be your partner’s advocate often those first week days, weeks and months can be a tough time for a new mother as hormones and lack of sleep can play havoc. You can help advocate on the mother’s behalf. Turn away guests (or invite them), arrange for extra help like lactation consultants and be their advocate with the health system. Knowing someone has your back is critical for a new mother.
Water, food and endless hot drinks. Nourish the mother. They have just been through birth, they need rest and care. Ensure they are well feed and hydrated. Serve them and help them rest as much as possible.
The washing. Oh the washing. There is so so much washing with a new born. Try to keep on top of it.
Tell your partner she is beautiful – pregnancy and childbirth is tough, emotionally and physically. Your partner will not be feeling like herself. Remind her how beautiful she is and how proud of her you are.
Be kind. If your partner is anything like me (especially second time round) she may not have the longest fuse. Be kind to her, even when she isn’t returning the favour. She is going through a major shift. She may act out, but trust that she will find her way back to you. Be kind, understanding and weather the storm.
Arrange alone time, for you both. Try to arrange some time out, for everyone. Take the baby for a walk to allow your partner to shower and rest. Go for a walk or do some exercise yourself to clear your head. Once bubs is asleep, carve out some alone time together with your partner to reconnect or if you have help on hand, pop out with your partner for a walk or to a café, just the two of you.