The Role of the Partner: Postpartum
The Postpartum period is a time of great adjustment for the entire family. Here are some things you can do to help your family transition into this new season.
Protect your partner from naysayers. Again. Now that the baby is here, some people will be renewed in their efforts to offer unsolicited advice. Again, if this is advice that’s genuinely attempting to offer information for you to make informed decisions from then that’s great – we can all learn something new. If it’s someone being meddlesome and judgmental, that’s the last thing your family needs right now. Make sure everyone knows that you are behind the parenting decisions you’ve made.
Learn and watch for the signs of postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, postpartum OCD, and posttraumatic stress disorder. No matter what kind of birth your partner had or the state of their emotions before birth, these conditions can wreak havoc on the mind and body if they develop. Don’t doubt your partner's ability as a parent, just educate yourself and become aware of the signs of these serious conditions, and know the difference between these signs and simple, more common baby blues or sleep deprivation. If you see something that’s cause for concern, continue being supportive by getting help.
Let your partner process the birth. It is therapeutic to talk about the birth if desired. If the birth was exactly what was wanted, celebrate that and appreciate that powerful experience. If your partner experienced birth trauma, let them talk about it. It may be uncomfortable for you to relive, but if they can talk about it to someone who won’t make them feel inadequate or judged, they will be more likely to move through it in a healthy manner.
Enjoy this experience too! Let your partner know that you’re excited to be parents together.
Help manage visitors. Your partner may not be comfortable asking for help but if you see that your fridge is empty and neither one of you has the time or energy to get to the store and make dinner, ask someone who wants to visit to bring over a nutritious meal. If you see that your partner is getting burned out with so many people visiting, suggest a pause – no more visitors until the next day, for example. These are simple things that can make a big difference in your first several weeks as a new family.