Editors Note: For most of August I am on vacation, spending some much needed time recharging my batteries and enjoying time with the family. I knew I was going to be away from my computer for some time so I went out searching for some great guest posters to help keep this blog active while I am away. I am so pleased to have Jennifer from How To Ruin A Toddler’s Day as one of my guests. Jennifer refuses to pretend that life is perfect and has a great sense of humour while doing so. Make sure you check out her blog.
She’s been pregnant for 40 weeks. You’ve both been anxious, anticipating the moment when your new bundle of joy decides to arrive. But what can you expect once you are home? A new Mom is overjoyed and overwhelmed – her hormones have more ups and downs than a kid with a sugar high on a trampoline, and she forgets what it feels like to sleep – all of which can have a toll on her emotional well being.
So what can you do to help her? Relax; you don’t have to change the axis of the earth or anything like that. I’m talking little things that can have a huge impact on her sanity. Let’s do this in point form. Are you ready?
If she’s breastfeeding, there’s really not too much you can do to “take over” a feed. But do you have any idea how EXHAUSTING breastfeeding is? I read somewhere once that to produce 25oz’s of milk a day, you exhaust an extra 650 calories. That’s right folks, she may “just be sitting there” in your eyes, but she’s tired, and needs more energy intake to keep up with the demand.
So what can you do? She needs to keep her energy and hydration up, but is stuck being a human feed bag. Why not bring her a glass of water or a snack without her asking? A simple gesture that shows you are there for her and know what she needs.
If she’s pumping or bottle feeding, there’s no reason you can’t help out even more by doing some feeds. Especially the ones in the middle of the night – that’s a huge help!
2) Let her take a nap if possible.
I know you hear people say: “She can sleep when the baby sleeps”, but do you know what she’s actually doing when the baby sleeps? Not sleeping. She’s trying to do everything she couldn’t do while the baby was awake, like cleaning, laundry, eating, etc. When baby wakes up, the cycle repeats. One hour of sleep, and knowing that you realize she needs it, changes her world.
3) Let her have some “her” time.
Even if it is just to shower. I used to shower every day. Now it’s “wait a minute, today is Tuesday, so that means my last shower was on…”. It sounds like such a little thing, but it’s enough to make her feel refreshed, and more like herself again.
4) Arrange some “us” time.
If you’re able to arrange a sitter, do so. Arrange it all, and then let her know you’ve taken care of everything. Even if you can’t afford to go to a fancy restaurant, make a date night at home for just yourselves. Keep the spark alive, and let her know you still desire spending time with her.
5) Tell her she’s beautiful and strong.
I can’t stress this one enough. But don’t stop at just telling her she is amazing. Show her you think she is.
Pregnancy does some crazy things to a woman’s body. She may have the “Mommy marsupial pouch” on her tummy. She may be zebra striped with big purple stretch marks. Her boobs may resemble saggy feed bags. There is now very likely something about her body that she’s conscious of and hates.
These are Mommy battle scars. Help her to realize that they are beautiful, and show just how strong and amazing she is.
6) Do the dishes without her asking.
Even if you only manage to do it once a week, it is one less time she has to do it. I can tell you, there’s nothing sexier now, than seeing my fiance do the dishes for me.
Above all else, don’t judge her if she breaks down. She will do so at some point, and it is normal. Let her cry. Let her vent. Be her shoulder. When she’s got it all out of her system, hug her and hold her and let her know it will be okay.
In the same respect, there will likely be times that you feel like breaking down as well. It’s okay to do so – it’s normal and humanizing. If anything, seeing that you’re not a perfect strong rock will actually make her less alone in her stress. Your emotional well being is just as important as hers, so remember to look after yourself as well.
You’re her partner for a reason. You are in this together, so be sure she feels your support and love.
It won’t be easy, it won’t be perfect, and it won’t be a fairy tale. What it will be is real and life changing.
Life changing in the most amazing way.