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5 Ways Partners Can Help In The Postpartum Period

By Kimberley Fernandez - CLD, CCCE

Kimberley has been working with pregnant and new families in their birth and postpartum journey since 2006, and currently teaches virtually for a major Toronto hospital as well as offering virtual classes through her teaching portal "The Birthing Room"


When a baby is born, the baby and birthing parent are a cohesive unit that need support and love from those around them. Sometimes as a result of this intense focus on baby and the feeding parent, the supporting parent can feel a little left out. Male parents especially may feel lost on what to do to help and support, especially as the main focus in the first couple of weeks is feeding baby. People in my classes will say they want their partner to give a bottle so they can bond with baby and help out. And many men want to do that. And you can. That's absolutely possible. I will suggest though that giving a bottle, unless necessary for supplementation, in the first couple of weeks can disrupt body feeding. Therefore, if body feeding is the goal, it can help to avoid bottles in the first couple of weeks while your supply is being established and everyone is getting the hang of things. So what can Dads and non-feeding parents do to be involved.

Feed Them!!

You may not be able to feed the baby, but you can feed your partner. The feeding parent needs to stay well fed and hydrated. This is a great job for them to do so that the feeding parent can focus on baby and recovery from birth.

In the final weeks of pregnancy, sit down together and workout what food is going to look like for you both in the postpartum period. What does you feel comfortable cooking. Do some batch cooking together and put it the freezer with simple instructions for reheating. If you don't cook, look at options for getting others to bring you meals that you just have to plate for the feeding parent. Family and friends can participate in a meal train to bring you food daily for a week or two. Or investigate meal kits that are easy and simple to make.

Take Baby!!

Once baby has finished feeding, in the short period of time between feedings, you can take the baby to settle them down and hold them while they sleep. Don't get upset, baby's in the first week or two need to be held a lot. So that is your job. Educate yourself on ways to get a new newborn to lay down independently so you can both get some sleep, but if baby isn't having it, then you will have to hold baby in between feeds, especially during the dreaded cluster feeds.

Consider taking a newborn care class so you can become more comfortable with the process of sleep and caring for a newborn. I recommend this one: New Baby User Manual

Do The Crappy Work!!!

Some of the basic needs of baby like holding them and soothing them is a great job for the non-feeding parent. However there is another activity that needs doing multiple times a day. Change that diaper!!! I know it is a crappy job (lol) but it's needed. Plus you can help keep accurate diaper and feeding logs which will be helpful during those baby doctor visits in the first few weeks. After birth, the recovering parent's brain is being transformed to better connect with baby and they may feel forgetful and a little foggy headed. Paying attention to what's happening is key to ensuring baby is well and being well fed and that the birth parent is being well fed and looked after.

Time For Chores!!!

There is so much around the house that has to be done, and some things that don't. But a very important, supportive job in the postpartum period is to make sure the things that need to be done, get done. Laundry, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, paying the bills, walking the dog. If some of this stuff doesn't seem up your ally, no problem, consider budgeting for a cleaner to come in once a week or a postpartum doula that can do light chores around the house. (Though most won't clean a toilet, and I don't blame them)

Adding a postpartum doula or a cleaner to your baby registry can help take the financial stress off if these feel like huge expenditures. Saving up for them during your pregnancy, adding them to the baby budget can also help.


And finally, one of the biggest jobs of a postpartum doula is to listen to the feelings and experiences of the newly birthed parent. Listening is a huge skill. Remember to listen to understand and not to respond. What does that mean? Sometimes we "listen" to people's stories and while we are talking, we are already formulating a response. What the birthing parent is saying doesn't always need a solution. They may just need to get all the thoughts out of their head. So listen, really hear the words and how they are said.

As a side note, make sure you are talking to someone too about how you are feeling. Your partner may not be in the right frame of mind to hear what you have to say, they have so much on their plate with recovery and feeding, so find some one who you feel safe enough to confide in and when the fog lifts, chat together as a couple about how you were feeling in those first few weeks.

See! There are lots of things partners can do in the postpartum period to make these stressful first couple of weeks easier on everyone. Good luck!!

P.S. Before you go, I have a weekly newsletter you find helpful. Sign Up here: Newsletter And Other Offers


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