The time after birth is intense for families, as they adjust to the big changes that come along with caring for both a newborn and someone who has just given birth! But there are so many real, concrete ways that husbands, wives, partners, and other support people can help make day-to-day life easier and smoother for everyone…most especially, the new parent themselves.
Some of the items on our list may seem obvious, but you know what? Sometimes you’ve got to spell it out, right from the beginning.
Our list of ways a partner can help postpartum should be helpful for the uber-educated dads and partners out there, as well as the ones who may need a little more hand-holding. Here are our suggestions for things a partner can do to support you— a newly postpartum person!
Set up your room for a nap
It’s so important for you to rest, so enlist your partner to help you set up the situation so you can do so. They can close blinds, fluff pillows, turn on a noise machine, get you a glass of water and have it ready on the nightstand. When the time comes, all you have to do is lie down and sleep.
Prep one-handed snacks
When you’re holding a baby all the time, easy snacks are key. We’ve got a whole list of one-handed snack ideas and recipes here on our blog.
Fill water bottles
Hydration is vital after birth. It’s an easy and useful job for your partner to keep your water bottle full at all times (ideally with electrolytes too, which are important if you’re breastfeeding/bodyfeeding).
Again, hydration, but this time with a warm, calming twist. Herbal teas can be so soothing in postpartum and it’s sure an easy job to boil water, add tea, and bring you a steaming mug.
Prepare a sitz bath
If you’ve given birth vaginally (or even if you pushed for a long time and had a belly birth), a sitz bath is a wonderful way to help your body heal. It’s basically a tea for the vagina. We like the one from Earth Mama, which comes in handy little tea bags. Have your partner boil water, steep the mixture, let it cool, and then pour it into a sitz bath seat or the bathtub for you. Ahhhh, feels great.
Order dinner (or make it!)
DoorDash or UberEats it up, but have your partner make the decision and do the ordering. If they are into cooking, that’s also a great idea. Or have your partner run your MealTrain. Dinner, done!
Call a friend to come over
Sometimes, it helps to have a friend to chat with when you’re postpartum. Your partner can ID the perfect person you want to see and invite them over (with your ok, of course!).
Change the sheets
Fresh sheets = everything. Such a simple task that makes a big difference.
Whether it’s emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, or straightening up the coffee table, your partner should be shouldering the bulk of chores at this time. If they can’t do these types of chores themselves, they should be handling the mental load of ensuring that they get done in another way.
Wash pump parts and bottles
If you’re pumping and bottle-feeding or fully bottle-feeding with formula, bottles need to be washed—a lot! It’s so helpful if a partner takes this over fully, freeing you up to actually feed.
Set up supplies
It could be setting out a basket replenished with pads and a peri bottle in the bathroom. It could be setting up a rolling cart with baby stuff and breastfeeding supplies. No matter what it is, having it all done for you makes a big difference.
Learn what’s normal for baby
You shouldn’t be the only one who can read your new little one. When your partner makes the effort to learn the difference between the “wet” and the “hungry” cry—or learns about biologically normal newborn behavior in general—the load of parenting is shared more equally.
Bathtime is a perfect time for other parents or support people to bond with baby.
Babywearing is another way that a partner can give you a break and bond with baby themselves. It’s easy to babywear during a walk, while doing errands, or around the house. Ensure they feel comfortable in the carrier you have or consider getting one that fits them and their body.
Feed baby (if/when possible)
There’s so many ways other than feeding that a dad or other parent can bond with a baby…but if it makes sense for your family, then it makes sense for a partner to feed baby. This can be pumped human milk or formula. It can be at a set time every day (like during a night shift) or occasionally. And don’t limit yourself to just bottles–newborns can be fed by syringe, spoon or cup-feeding, as well.
Take baby on a walk
Stroller or carrier, have your partner get baby out and about in the neighborhood.
Keep an eye on mood
Emotional ups and downs during the fourth trimester are normal, but since your partner knows you best, they’re a good person to help you when things get abnormal. Your partner can keep an eye on your mood and mental health after birth.
Call in additional support
If you need additional support (like an in-home postpartum doula, a mental health therapist, a lactation consultant, etc), your partner can be the person to find the professional and make the call.
It feels good to get a compliment. And giving one is such an easy way for your partner to help you feel seen and heard. Specific thoughts, like “I love the way you comforted our baby so quickly!” can go a long way!
New parenthood doesn’t come easily to everyone. When you feel true encouragement from your partner, it can make the whole thing seem less daunting. You’ll get it, together…with some positive words along the way.
So simple and yet, so profound. When your partner offers a nonjudgmental listening ear, whether it be about feeding difficulties or the general ups and downs of baby life,
Interface with family and friends
It can be overwhelming to field all of the texts and phone calls after a baby’s birth, even if it’s all fun congratulations. Have your partner take this burden and become the designated communicator, whether that’s in immediate postpartum at the hospital, in the first few weeks, or even beyond.
Take over the mental load
Scheduling appointments, buying diapers, ordering groceries…are these things you would normally do? In postpartum, pass the torch to your partner and let your mind focus only on your own recovery and your new little baby.
Use the My Fourth app
We’ve made our app, My Fourth, especially for the birthing person. It’s a day-by-day guide to the fourth trimester, packed full of information about birth recovery, baby care, and more. But that doesn’t mean partners can’t use it as a resource! When a partner can follow along on their own phone, they may just be an even more useful and present co-parent. Download it here on our website.
Keep an open mind
Before baby is born, it’s easy for parents to say things like “I’ll never do X” or “I don’t believe in Y.” But part of parenthood is being flexible…not only with practices, but with feelings. When your partner is open to how the journey unfolds, that helps you be the same way (and feel supported if and when things need to change).