The Father’s role after Birth: 10 Tips to accompany a new mother

The Father’s role after Birth: 10 Tips to accompany a new mother

Why should a mother be and feel accompanied after birth during the postpartum period?

When a baby is born, a mother and a father are also born, and it doesn’t matter if it is your second child: then a mother of two children and a father of two children is born, and so on. Each new child is a massive event for any family, and everyone needs to adapt. But the mother, in addition to the effort to adapt to this, has just given birth (vaginal or cesarean), her hormones are all over the place, and she will have to make a lot of decisions about her body and that of her baby: during the birth, in the postpartum, about breastfeeding, care and so on. And let’s not fool ourselves; she will not do so calmly on her own but based on the pressures, opinions, and lessons learned from her surrounding. And the pressure is very high.

When a woman has a baby, she experiences the most intense transformations of her life.

Mothers can dedicate 150% of their body and soul to the care of their child to such an extent that they may even forget their basic needs during the first days or weeks while being perfectly capable of taking excellent care of their baby.

This is why supporting the mother is so essential, and we usually talk about professional support such as from a midwife, a pediatrician, nurses, and so on. But in reality, a postpartum woman’s center of support should be her partner.

So how do you accompany a woman through this stage?

We know it’s not easy. We are burdened with stereotypes, the social pressure is overwhelming, and nobody has taught us how to do it, so we have decided to propose you 10 valuable tips to accompany a mother in the postpartum period:

  1. Follow your instinct: just as a mother experiences an awakening of the instinct to take care of her child in her body and mind, fathers also have their own instinct: the instinct to take care of their family.
  2. Don’t just take the mother to places; come with her: in the first days and weeks after birth, partners often bring them to do administrative tasks, to a pediatrician, or to other medical appointments. But what if you would also get emotionally involved in it, in addition to providing a lift? Help to fill out the paperwork, join the postnatal group, listen carefully, and ask the pediatrician or healthcare professional your own questions. There are no wrong questions, we are sure that everything you want to contribute is interesting, and this is very important because afterward, back home, you will be able to collaborate in a much more active way.
  3. Information is power. Talk about parenthood with your friends and family, but not just with men. Talk to other women who have been mothers, ask them, and find out what would be helpful. And read: there are a lot of articles and books created especially for new fathers to give you resources to understand more and better about the care of a baby and a new mother. Or you can also find out more about breastfeeding in the LactApp app.
  4. Support breastfeeding: establishing breastfeeding is no easy task. Not easy at all. And a great majority of mothers experience physical and emotional problems during the start of breastfeeding due to having to learn breastfeeding techniques and a lack of resources or support. Accompany your partner during a few feeds, observe the baby, and come with her, if she goes to see a lactation consultant. Ask your own questions there and participate, don’t be shy; no question is too little to give support during this stage.
  5. Get a baby carrier: a newborn’s natural habitat is their mother’s body. It is known that a baby carrier is perfect for the two, but it is also a great resource for fathers. Mothers need to breathe and rest, and they will only do so if they know that their baby will be safe, comfortable, and calm. Sometimes fathers tend not to hold their babies for more than 5 minutes because the baby cries or is restless: “She only wants to breastfeed.” No, that’s not true, but it’s a resource that always works. Today we tell you another one: if a baby has already been fed at the breast, putting them in a baby carrier and going for a walk is a trick that never fails. Your baby knows you, knows that you are the father, and wants to interact with you too. You simply have to adapt and learn to do it differently. It’s impossible for you to relate to your baby the way a mother does simply because you are the father. You will find a way to do it, and starting with a baby carrier is a good idea because your baby will feel protected. They will be contained; feel your smell, your voice, and your movement will rock them gently to sleep. The sensation is indescribable; you have to try it!
  6. It is very common for postpartum mothers to be so focused on taking care of their babies that they neglect their basic needs: eating, sleeping, resting, and even moving. We know it’s not easy and parental leave for fathers is ridiculous in most places, but surely you can find time to give her a relaxing massage, prepare a relaxing bath, and prepare food for when you are away out for work or go for a walk with the baby so she can rest. And look after yourself, too: eat well, rest while your partner breastfeeds at night, and relax your mind when you go to work. It’s important to be at your best in this challenging time.
  7. Become a shield. People have no filter when it comes to maternity, and especially mothers become human targets for all kinds of unsolicited opinions. When you’re strong, it’s easy to respond, but when you’re in a vulnerable situation or feeling insecure, the comments of others can shake even the strongest mind. Your support is very important for the mother to regain confidence and not be influenced negatively by other people’s opinions. Don’t be shy and intervene to silence these comments. Always be on your partner’s side if the topic is about her or her baby (when it comes to breastfeeding, parenting choices, nutrition, birth, sleep, and so on). Even if you think others are right, stay by your partner’s side and then privately tell her your opinion if you think something is not going the way you would like. Your backing is important.
  8. Limit visits to a minimum. Depending on your culture, coming to visit the mother and baby in the hospital and their home is common, as everyone wants to meet the new baby. But there are plenty of days to do so. Until breastfeeding is established and the mother has recovered from the birth, it is VERY important to limit visits, both in number and in time. You all need privacy to adapt so that the mother can be comfortable, walk around with her bare breasts if she needs to, forget about composure, and mother quietly in peace.
  9. Skin-to-skin contact. No, skin-to-skin is not only for the mother. The benefits of skin-to-skin go far beyond that. In addition to the comfort, peace of mind, and pleasure you and your baby will receive, practicing the kangaroo method will help your baby to better regulate temperature, reduce parental anxiety and help establish bonding and involvement. The baby will recognize you, you will get to know each other, and it will be wonderful. Also, in case of separation from the mother, skin-to-skin contact with you will help the baby to better latch onto the mother’s breast later on.
  10. Your sex life will change. The few weeks after birth are not the end of the postpartum period. 5 weeks is only the time the uterus and cervix need to get back to their previous place, previous size, and position. But postpartum goes much, much further. Sometimes the mother begins to notice the change when she starts having her period again; this can happen after a few months or even after years, yes, years. Other times ovulation has nothing to do with it. It is a physical and chemical issue; it is not under the women’s control, and that’s why sex can also change a lot. In fact, humans are almost the only mammalian species that have sex during the breastfeeding period. The hormone levels of breastfeeding during the first months bring women into a state very similar to menopause. In addition, by the law of survival, the woman is 100% focused on the care of the baby both physically and emotionally, and that’s why libido has to give way. On a physical level, childbirth can greatly influence sexual relations: a complicated birth experience, an episiotomy or tear, a weakened pelvic floor, and so on can make the mother not want to know anything about sex. The subject of sexuality would take up many more articles, and if you want to know more, talk to your midwife.

Postpartum is a new stage in the sexual and reproductive life cycle of a woman who becomes a mother, with its joys and its shadows, and this should be normalized, validated, and accepted by society as a whole. But it’s a basic necessity that this stage is seen as normal, the mother’s circumstances are validated and accepted, and she is accompanied and supported by her partner.

Take care and brave it. We know it is not easy!

Thank you for being there.

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