Steoretypes from our culture, family & society
Once we become parents, we somehow give up our own life and wishes for a while…We focus so much on our newborn baby’s needs and direct our love & care towards this precious little creature that we totally forget about our own needs and wishes.
We forget to eat, to sleep and even to shower…but after a few weeks, all this lack strikes back. Because we all have to nurture these basic needs, even if in another structure.
Some of us come from societies where becoming a mom is the noblest mission on earth. Therefore it is expected from us to sacrifice, to be tough and do all the work and not show any sign of weakness during this process. It’s like we finally found THE PURPOSE in life, although it is hardly the case. Having a child is indeed a blessing and a challenge at the same time, an opportunity to grow (for both parents), but we are far more than just parents. And it is fully okay to look after your own needs after you gave birth.
Moreover, admitting things are not easy with your baby, that you, as a mom, are sleep deprived or depressed, exhausted and need some time for yourself is also OK. It does not mean that you are not a good mom if your baby is not sleeping well, if you feel alone and are desperate for a few joined hours of sleep. On the contrary, it is a sign of being human.
“We are all perfect in our imperfection”. (Dr. Shefali Tsabary)
So, admit it, express your needs and ask for help! There is a lot we can do to improve the situation.
Some lucky ones have the support of the father who, despite going to work to earn the family’s bread, supports mom and takes care of his baby after work. Because he realises that while his job may still mean work with a few breaks, a fresh new mom has a 24/7 job, more than a full time job, with no breaks whatsoever.
There is some truth in all these traditional roles we take over from former generations like mom being the portal to this world for the baby and its primal caretaker, but that does not exclude the father’s role and his empathy towards a woman who has just been through agony and bliss at the same time while giving birth, whose hormonal system is still on a roller coaster, a woman who has no time to recover neither physically nor emotionally, but has to take on her new maternal responsibilities fast and serious. 😉
Moreover, the mental status and balance of a fresh new mom has a huge impact on her baby, so the sooner she gets over her post partum depression (if the case) and finds the help, understanding, love, care and support she needs, the better off for the whole family, on a long term basis.
Tips for Dads to take care of Moms
So, dear Dads, here are some tips for you, to help your dear spouse, the Mother of your precious Baby, so that you all go through this metamorphosis as smooth as possible:
1. Understand your spouse’s new role and respect her natural need to nurture and care for her baby.
2. Consider parenting as an equal responsibility all together, from the very beginning.
3. Do not expect romantic feelings or sex appeal from your spouse during the first 2-3 months after giving birth; they have been replaces by other biological and hormonal needs.
According to rules of nature…
“babies cannot thrive without their mothers, but fathers can survive without sex for a while”. 😉
4. Make sure your home is clean and tidy, it will give mom a better mood, time and room to feed and connect with her newborn baby. Hire some help with housecleaning, if necessary.
5. Talk to members of your family and friends to reduce visits to minimum during this delicate period of your life.
6. Prepare the most friendly sleep environment for your baby (ex. dark sleeping room, cool temperature, white noise machine etc.)
7. Be proactive – think about what your partner needs before she is overwhelmed by it and expresses it (for example put all mobiles on silent if mom and baby are sleeping, take your baby for a walk outside to give mom a chance to catch up on sleep a bit, stay with the baby while mom takes a shower, be home from work sooner than expected and just be there for them)
8. Do the regular shopping, order or cook some dinner for both of you.
9. Change your attitude – think of a problem as a new opportunity, like spending some time with your baby will give you a chance to connect with him/her and get the admiration and gratitude from your partner (it’s a win-win 😉
“Nothing turns a woman on like seeing a man nurture her baby” 😉
10. Choose your words carefully. Do not come with outdated lines like “someone has to earn the bread in this family” or “it’s a mother’s role to take care of her baby” or “it will be okay” and do not tell stories from friends who sleep through the night.
11. Do not compare your baby with other babies.
12. Encourage your partner frequently and tell her what a good mom she is and what a great job she does, even what a beautiful woman she is.
13. Give mom a foot massage from time to time, send her for a walk outside or let her meet up for a coffee with a friend to get some fresh air now and then or even book her an hour at the spa, if you know she loves and can do that.
14. Be the cheerleader of the family (ex. dance with your baby and put on some good music for the mom) and learn how to sing lullabies.
15. Help your partner bath your baby in the evening and be an active part of the bedtime ritual.
16. Be part of the parenting team from the very beginning, it sends the message of balance, love and harmony to your baby.
17. Learn how to comfort your baby, talk with mom, experiment or do some research about it (ex. try the “neck nestle” position or the “warm fuzzy” holds, walk your baby to calm, put him in a baby carrier or even take your baby for a drive in the car to help him fall sleep).
18. Give your partner the credit she knows best in terms of mothering, even if sometimes she is not perfect. 😉
19. Take care of and connect with the older sibling (in case you have another toddler in the house).
20. Send loving messages to mom when you are at work (better than calling her in the wrong moment).
21. Make decent jokes and bring humour into the new constellation.
22. Bring the baby to mom for breastfeeding, especially during the first month when she still needs to recover physically and baby wakes up to be fed frequently.
23. Prepare the bottle of milk at a specific time of the night (ex. the second time baby wakes up) or even sleep alone with the baby in the same room for the first part of the night (giving mom a a chance to get some restorative sleep a few more hours).
24. Change the baby’s diaper and let mom show you the tricks to it.
25. Walk your baby to burp after a night feed.
26. Help your spouse hydrate (bring her water, tea, juice) to produce more milk for your baby.
27. Choose a nice romantic comedy or a good serial for your wife to watch while breastfeeding or in the evening for both of you to re-connect and relax.
28. Encourage earlier bedtime for the whole family.
29. Encourage morning sleep-ins for mom and take your baby for a walk outside after the good-morning feed.
30. Try to be calm and confident – tell mom “Relax, I can do it” or “No problem; I know what I am doing”.
31. Be open to new ways of teaching your baby to fall asleep more independently, after the first couple of months.
32. Help mom stop breastfeeding (if she wants it) because babies can smell mom’s milk from far away and give her a hand when you plan to move your baby to his/her own room (officially recommended after min. 6 months of age).
33. Be aware about this challenging phase of your life which could really be an opportunity for you to grow, to strengthen your relationship with your partner, to deeply connect with your baby and consciously set your new list of priorities in life. It’s up to you, Dad!
And always remember, a happy life entails also a happy wife! 🙂
I know these seem like a lot for a Dad to carry and you can choose of course what you can or cannot do, but imagine if you could/would not do any of these things, they would all fall into mom’s responsibility. Moreover, considering how much a baby is influenced by his environment and his primary care-takers, having a balanced mom could have a very important impact on the child’s life on a long term basis.
But Moms, even if you are the best mother for your baby, if you want to have such a conscious partner by your side when raising your kid, you need to make room for it. I have some suggestions for your too…soon 😉
Note: quotes and ideas inspired by Dr. W. Sears and Marta Sears “Baby sleep book”, 2005.
If you need help and support to set healthy sleep habits for your baby, I am happy to connect.