Together, you and your wife have gone through some pretty monumental milestones. You’ve exchanged vows and perhaps you’ve purchased a home, not to mention that there you have undoubtedly gone through some other pretty major events together. However, while all of these events that you have gone through together have been big, none of them are as major as having a baby.
Bringing a new little being into the world is, without a doubt, the biggest thing that you will ever go through as a couple. It is completely life changing. And while having a baby is a huge deal for a dad, for a mom, it’s an even bigger deal.
Your wife not only carried and nourished that beautiful little bean for 9 months, but she also birthed that precious little bundle, she is nursing or bottle-feeding him, her hormones are on a wild roller coaster ride, her body has completely changed, and she is more than likely the one who will be losing the most sleep. Not to mention the fact that she has to now deal with the judgment that other moms are going to pass on her (sadly, this is true); and even bigger, she is going to have to deal with the judgment that she is going to pass on herself (there is no guilt in the world like mom guilt.)
As her husband, you are your wife’s biggest cheerleader and her strongest rock. When your wife becomes a new mother, you really need to step up your game and become an even bigger cheerleader and an even stronger rock than you already were. As Ryan Reynolds said on Late Night with Seth Meyers,
“A human being will exit your wife, so she’s done enough.”
Of course, your wife probably won’t want you to take over everything, but she will not only want your help, she will need your help as she makes the transition into motherhood. How can you help? Here are some tips that will help you help your wife make a smooth transition into her new role in life.
7 Pay Attention
During the first few months of motherhood, your wife is going to be going through a lot of changes. Her hormones are going to be bouncing all over the place, trying to get back to the levels that they were pre-pregnancy. If she’s breastfeeding, she is also going to have to deal with the hormones that help her produce milk. All of this hormone change is going to have a huge impact on your wife, and there may be times when she doesn’t even know what she needs.
That said, it’s super important that you pay attention to what’s going on, and step in whenever you can. Women tend to think that they can do it all, especially moms. If you want your wife to avoid major overload and you want to help her avoid developing feelings of resentment toward you, you are going to want to pay attention and help her in any way that you think you can.
What Will Your Wife Need?
There is no definite answer to that question. Everyone is different and has different needs, which is why it is so important for you to pay attention. Observe the situation and respond accordingly to her specific needs.
6 Ask How You Can Help
Of course, you aren’t a mind reader. While paying attention and stepping in without her asking you to is definitely important, there is no way that you can always know what she needs – or that she may even be secretly wishing for help.
Come right out and ask your wife what you can do to help. Simply asking will show her how much you care and how much she means to you. She may tell you that she doesn’t need any help, and she may not; however, chances are that if you do ask, she’ll tell you, at least, one thing that you can help with.
How do You Ask Her if She Needs Help?
Don’t wait until she is completely overwhelmed to ask if she needs help. Ask right away. The point of helping her is to avoid overload, and if you wait until she’s overwhelmed, well, you aren’t exactly going to be helping her. Instead, you’re just going to make her feel frustrated and resentful.
5 Let Her Sleep!
There is no greater gift for a new mother than sleep. While yes, you are also going to be losing sleep as a new dad, you aren’t going to be losing nearly as much sleep as she will. She’ll have already lost a ton of sleep before your little bambino even makes his debut. Pregnancy, especially toward the end, doesn’t exactly make for comfortable sleeping conditions. An aching back, restless legs, heartburn and a baby that is constantly moving are all things that can interrupt your wife’s sleep during pregnancy, which means she’s entering the new mommy gig exhausted already. Add to that lack of sleep the labor, the delivery, the breastfeeding and all the energy that her body needs to recover and you are going to have one sleepy wife.
With so much sleep deprivation, you can help make your wife’s transition into new motherhood by letting her sleep. Wake up with the baby in the morning and let her sleep in. Encourage her to take a nap. Feed the baby in the middle of the night. Any way that you can let your wife get some extra Zzzs will help her more than you could ever know.
What if Your Wife is Breastfeeding?
If your wife is breastfeeding, you may be wondering how you can feed the baby while she sleeps. You could feed the baby a bottle of pumped breast milk, but if your wife is exclusively breastfeeding, you obviously won’t be able to feed the baby. Offer to take the baby for burping, changing and getting back to sleep once the feeding session is over so your wife can drift back into dreamland.
4 Do the Chores
In my house, the chores are pretty evenly divided between me and my husband. We both work, so it’s only fair that we split the responsibilities related to the house. I do the dishes and he does the laundry, for example. When my babies were born, however, he took over all chores for the first few weeks. This was, indeed, a great help for me. The last thing I wanted to worry about after a feeding was cooking dinner and cleaning up.
Step up and wash, fold and put the laundry away. Vacuum and clean the floors. Do the dusting. Clean the bathrooms. Go grocery shopping. Anything that needs to be done around the house, you should do it. She just went through an immense event, so it’s only fair that you take the weight of caring for the house off of her shoulders.
What if You Don’t Know How to Do the Chores?
You don’t know how to do the laundry or iron the clothes? Just because you don’t know how to do a chore, that doesn’t mean that you are pardoned from doing it. Ask your mom or sister to show you how to do the laundry or the ironing. If you don’t have anyone to ask for help, you can certainly find out by doing a quick search on the Internet. There aren’t any excused for you not to do the household chores.
3 Be Patient
One of the biggest ways that you can help your wife transition into motherhood is by having patience. I have had two children, and I know how difficult it can be to deal with the mood swings and the uncertainty that all new moms experience. I know that your wife may get on your nerves, but whatever you do, don’t lose your patience with her. It’s the worst thing you could do.
Try to understand where your wife is coming from. If she is crying one minute and laughing hysterically the next, don’t pass judgment, and by all means, never ever insinuate that she is crazy. Have patience during this emotional time in your wife’s life. Just remember that this too shall pass and she will eventually be back to the happy-go-lucky person that she once was.
What if You Think She has Postpartum Depression?
It is estimated that between 10 and 15 percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression. If your wife wants nothing to do with the baby, she is excessively distant toward you or you suspect that she may be suffering from postpartum depression for any other reason, there are several resources that you can consult with online before talking to your wife and to her doctor.
2 Don’t Put Expectations on Her
As a new mom, your wife already has a lot of expectations on her shoulder. Even if you are helping out as much as possible, mother’s instinct will likely make her want to do the majority of the work when it comes to the baby, and the baby requires a lot from his mother.
Putting added expectations on your wife’s shoulders will definitely not help her make a smooth transition into motherhood. Don’t expect her to cook, clean and do the dishes (you should be doing those chores!) Don’t expect her to try to please you; and you should certainly not expect her to have sex with you. Medically, she will not be able to have sex for at least six weeks after she gives birth, though it could take even longer. And, even when she is medically cleared for sexual activity, there’s a good chance that she may not want to have sex – yet, anyway.
What if She Thinks You’re Putting Expectations on Her?
Does your wife think that you are putting expectations on her, even though you aren’t? Don’t get upset with her; just reassure her that you aren’t expecting anything extra from her. Let her know that you are there to help and that you don’t expect anything from her.
1 Reassure Her
Women naturally need reassurance. They like to know that they are doing a good job and that they have your approval. When she becomes a new mother, your wife is going to need even more reassurance. As we’ve already discussed, she is going to be battling hormone imbalances, which will automatically make her doubt herself. On top of that, the baby is the most important being in your wife’s world and she wants and needs to know that she is doing a good job.
Take the time to reassure your wife. Be her biggest cheerleader. Let her know that you think she is doing an excellent job as a mother. Tell her that you are proud of her. This reassurance will boost her confidence and give her the strength to keep going when she feels like giving up. A little reassurance can go a really long way for a new mom.
How Can You Reassure Her When You Aren’t There?
Chances are that you will have to go back before your wife does, or she may have made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom. It can be very challenging for a new mom to adjust to her new role, and it can also be difficult for her to adjust to being with someone who doesn’t speak for a large portion of the day. It is when you aren’t with her that she is going to need reassurance the most. You can cheer her on when you aren’t there by making a few phone calls throughout the day, sending text messages, sending emails and even by stopping home on your lunch hour.