…if your Baby Mama is on the brink of giving birth or has recently sprung your offspring from her loins.
You see, no matter how well your partner has coped with pregnancy, the entire game changes once Baby arrives. Your life could be at risk. This is a life line, my friend. Take it.
The hormones that will soon be crashing through her postpartum body will make her unrecognizable to you for a little while. You’ll wonder where the sweet, funny, supportive woman with great hygiene and sparkling eyes went – you know, the one you knocked up several months back. In her place, you now have someone that you might be more likely to describe as a smelly zombie whose demeanor fluctuates unpredictably between 3 settings: raging, sobbing, and scary silence.
In an effort to help you survive the initial postpartum phase, I have compiled the below lists with the help of some mama friends (whose partners managed to survive…though some just barely).
- Bring her tea or coffee without asking. To ask requires her to make a decision and she may not have the energy to do that. Plus it’s pretty much a given that she’ll want it since she is existing on caffeine at the moment. So be a star and just bring it.
- Tidy up. There is nothing in any book that says partners can’t clean bottles, wipe crumbs off the counter, or put dirty clothes (theirs or other people’s) in the laundry basket.
- Make sure she knows you’re on this ride together. You’re all in. You’re there for her.
- And then be cool when she pushes you away or utters an expletive or two – she’s either self-conscious of how she smells or she’s still working on not hating you for putting her in this situation in the first place. Or both. Quite possibly both.
- Take the baby off her hands as soon as you get home from work. If you’re a total rock star, take the baby outside for a walk so Mama can have a real moment of solo time. (She might use it to scream at the top of her lungs. No need to be alarmed though – this is just blowing off steam, much like your infant does during the witching hour. It’s always nicer to scream at the top of your lungs when no one is in the house to bear witness.)
- Play with her hair if she lays her head in your lap. No matter how much it needs to be washed.
- Run her a bath. Make sure the tub is clean and her towel and book/magazine are within reach. Throw in a glass of wine if appropriate (ie: it’s after
2pm11am). (Nooo, don’t throw the wine in the tub. I meant include a glass of wine in this experience. Why do you have to take me so literally?)
- Tell her it was a great idea to order pizza for the 8th night in a row. (You can work it off at the gym later…right now it’s about survival.)
- Book her a massage, facial, manicure, or pedicure. Or all of them, you big spender, you. Just make sure you put some thought into the time of day you set the appointments for. If Mama likes to go to bed at 6pm so she can catch a few winks before the night feedings begin, she is not going to love the idea of a 7pm facial, no matter how well-meaning and generous the gesture. Also keep in mind that her breasts will turn into painful rocks if she is away from the baby for a long time. You may want to spread the pampering out.
- Offer to take her for a drive. Yes, there may be a child or two in the backseat, but getting out of the house and remembering that there is a world beyond your own walls can be really beneficial to her state of mind.
- Refer to her as crazy – not even in jest. This includes, but is not limited to: nuts, loco, cray-cray, loopy, insane, barmy, kooky, cuckoo, psycho, delirious, mental, unhinged, unglued, deranged, bonkers, or strange. She likely already feels as though she’s losing her mind. To confirm this in any way would be to summon such rage that death would be imminent.
- Tell her how tired you are. You might be barely functioning due to your own exhaustion, but you can’t tell her. Tell your mother. Tell your friends. Tell your contractor. Do. Not. Tell. Her.
- Make any facial expression or gesture that reveals your true feelings about the fact that she needs to wear a diaper and/or granny panties for awhile. This includes raised eyebrows, shudders, cringes, etc.
- Comment on the ease of her c-section in comparison to delivering vaginally. She may not have had to push, but saying major abdominal surgery was in any way a cakewalk is just asking to be killed. Maimed, at the very least.
- Suggest the baby’s crying might be due to hunger. If there’s one thing that a Mama knows better than anyone, it’s that the baby is LIKELY CRYING BECAUSE OF HUNGER. She is the food source. She is the milk. And she is likely just mustering the energy to get out of bed – again – to feed the baby – again.
- Show any signs of frustration when your sleep is disturbed by nightly feedings or baby’s crying. Death sentence, for sure.
- Continue with your social schedule as if nothing has changed. Everything has changed. That annual guy’s trip to Vegas? The weekly poker game? As many golf games as you can cram into the season? Mama is likely having to push pause on a lot of activities that she once enjoyed on a regular basis. Don’t leave her to contend with a screaming infant while you go off to have a blast without her. You might return to find all of your possessions in a burning heap on the front lawn.
- Show any judgement with regards to when she decides to stop breastfeeding. Baby will be just fine with formula.
- Let any impatience with her show. To do so will likely result in a lot of tears. Probably yours. Mama will be flighty and forgetful for awhile – completely out of her control. Repeat a mantra, go to your happy place in your mind, practice deep breathing. Just don’t show her your impatience.
- Comment on her hair loss, weight, body shape, dark circles, eating habits, or dependency on baby-related apps. She is hyper-aware of how different she looks at the moment. She is an adult and therefore knows that Oreos are not a well-balanced meal. She is navigating through crazy days and long, lonely nights; if an app brings her some comfort, what’s it to you?
I know the picture I have painted here may look bleak to you now, but rest assured, the postpartum phase will pass, and the support, kindness, and patience you demonstrate throughout this tough time will not go unseen or be forgotten.
All joking aside, your Baby Mama may need more assistance through it so be on the lookout for signs of anxiety and depression that could potentially go beyond a case of ‘the blues’. Know the phone number if you need to call for backup – your local health department likely has a service that you can access simply by calling in your concerns.
Congratulations, and good luck! May the odds be ever in your favour.