A mother must go through so much from pregnancy to giving birth that things can become overwhelming without help. As the father, it is your responsibility to be the primary support system for the whole family.
Sounds like a big responsibility, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
Caring for your beautiful and entirely dependent baby 24/7 can be emotionally and physically exhausting for mum, so you need to be there for her. And while maternity services can offer assistance on the medical side of things, it is up to you to provide the practical and emotional support that your partner and baby need at home.
Whether you’re months away from becoming a father or have just welcomed your firstborn, here are five ways how you can help care for both mum and baby:
In This Article
1. Help replenish her “love cup.”
Mothers spend most of their time nurturing and caring for their babies to the point of exhaustion. This could lead to her “love cup” running dry, which feels almost like she’s going bankrupt.
Put yourself in her shoes and imagine this: You keep making withdrawals from your bank account but don’t make enough deposits to balance out the amount you take. Eventually, you’ll have nothing left.
How would you feel if you saw your account balance nearing zero (or already at zero)? That is exactly how mothers feel when they don’t get the replenishment of the love they give.
They can feel depressed, anxious, helpless, desperate, frustrated, and angry. They may even think that they lack control of their lives and can’t get even the most basic yet essential things they need to thrive.
In contrast, upon seeing that your account balance contains more money than you expect, you will feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders.
With the baby arriving, your partner won’t have time to think about treating herself to a nice day at the spa. While she may not notice it at first, she’ll eventually miss the things she used to enjoy before having the baby.
This is where you come in.
So, what do you need to do? Take over parenting duties to give her a self-care day when she can freely head to her favourite beauty salon in Dubai or do things that will make her feel rested and loved.
This way, she can deposit as much self-care and nurturing as she needs to balance sleep deprivation and intense baby nurturing.
2. Establish a new normal in your home.
Your significant other will be too busy with your little one to even think about normalcy inside the house. In this case, you are now in charge of establishing a “new normal” after the baby arrives.
If you’ve been waiting for life to get back to normal after the pregnancy ends, you may need to reassess your perspective and put parenthood front and centre.
When the baby arrives, your happy-go-lucky days as a non-parent are history, which isn’t a bad thing. What you need to do now is to work out new routines to fit the change.Who does the shopping and the laundry? If you don’t have hired help, it must be you.
Believe it or not, it is also important to determine when you both get to shower and eat. If you don’t handle these things, you and your partner will end up in a messy situation.
The key: Don’t fight it. Instead, follow the flow until you eventually fall into a rhythm that works for both of you.
3. Ask your partner if she needs anything when she’s breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is one of the best ways mothers can bond with their babies. It is also the best method of providing nourishment to newborn babies.
Still, breastfeeding ties mums to a couch or chair or bed, which can leave them feeling marooned even as they cherish every moment with their little angel.
To help optimise the experience for her, bring everything she could ever need to her: her phone, charger, a glass of drinking water, a cup of coffee (or numerous refills), or a snack. Hand her the TV remote as well.
Even these little gestures will mean the world to her, so make sure you do them.
4. Pay close attention to your partner’s mood.
Paying attention to your partner’s mood is not about hovering over her, stopping her from crying, or trying to fix her. It’s just about being there to give her comfort.
Research how other mums react after giving birth. This will help you understand the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression.
Baby blues are normal, albeit self-limiting. However, true postpartum depression is an entirely different matter altogether and is a serious medical condition that needs to be treated.
Your partner may be experiencing postpartum depression if she:
- Is still overwhelmed after several weeks since your baby arrived. Baby blues only last about two weeks, so any longer than that could be an early sign of depression.
- Experiences bouts of crying and irritability.
- Has lost interest in things that she used to enjoy.
- Is having trouble making decisions or seems like she just doesn’t care anymore.
- Can’t fall asleep, gets disrupted sleep outside of situations caused by the baby, or feels sleepy all the time. Any change in regular sleeping patterns could be a red flag.
If you notice any of these in your partner, gently encourage her to talk to a doctor about it. If she insists that she’s fine, don’t leave it up to her as she may not recognise the depression signs herself.
Instead, accompany her on her next check-up and have her tell her doctor about it. And don’t forget to ensure that she gets treatment.
Shoulder your half of the responsibility in baby care.
When both parents are around, parenting is a two-person job. You were part of the beginning of the journey, so you should commit to it in earnest and handle your share of baby care.
Mums aren’t the only ones who need to learn how to change a diaper, swaddle the baby, or rock them to sleep. Dads must do it, too.
Don’t worry if you have no idea how to do it at first or whether you’re qualified for it in the first place. No one is an expert at parenting from the get-go. Even those who already had several kids still need to learn new things every day.
What’s important is that you’re there and putting in an honest effort to do your best.
If you’re still unsure, it won’t hurt to research baby care and seek out resources in foetal medicine (can be experts or expert-verified literature).
Good Job, Dad
Fathering a child is different from becoming a dad. While any man can become a father, not all men are ready to be a dad. Since you read the entirety of this article, you are off to a good start at the new and possibly the most significant responsibility of your life. Good job, dad.