How Husbands Can Support Their Wife During The Postpartum Period
Welcoming a newborn into the family is an exciting step for any father. But with all the attention turned towards the baby, your wife may be feeling a little neglected or under-appreciated.
The changes after pregnancy and childbirth can be overwhelming. Fulfilling mummy duties while still finding the time to take care of herself might seem impossible.
Your wife will need your help. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn.
What’s Going to Happen
Your wife may be weak, tired, and even upset. Pregnancy is a long and laborious nine months. Delivery, whether vaginal or cesarean, will have placed strain on your wife’s body.
Due to hormonal changes, many women experience a ‘sad’ or ‘depressed mood’ in the one to two weeks after childbirth. Brace yourself for cries and tears. They may not just be from the baby!
Postnatal blues, also known as ‘Baby Blues’, is common. However, some women may develop Postpartum Depression (PPD). Watch out for red flags. Excessive crying and mood swings lasting for more than two weeks may be a sign of PPD. For more information consult your healthcare provider.
Major shake-ups in her routine
Nap time, feeding time, diaper changes, nursing, pumping schedules!
Especially for a first-time mother, caring for a newborn can be overwhelming. For working women on maternity leave, suddenly being alone at home with a newborn may feel disorienting or isolating.
Did you know? You can take time off work to accompany your wife and newborn. Fathers are entitled to government-paid paternity leave for all births if you fulfil the eligibility criteria:
- Your baby is a Singapore citizen
- You’re lawfully-married to your baby’s mother between conception and birth
- You’ve been with your employer for a continuous period of at least three months before the birth of your baby.
Whether you’re working or staying home, both your wife and yourself should expect sleepless nights. Most babies don’t start sleeping through the night until they are about three months old. Unlike adults, babies spend less time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and have short sleep cycles.
The confinement period
With all these changes, the four to six week period right after childbirth is especially important for both mummy and baby.
Confinement is a crucial phase for your wife’s body to recuperate, repair, and restore its natural reserves. In some traditions, the confinement period can last for up to three months after childbirth.
In Western cultures, the confinement period is referred to as ‘lying-in’ as it requires a long period of bedrest during and after pregnancy even if there were no medical complications during childbirth.
In Asian cultures, emphasis is placed on diet. As a general rule of thumb, traditional Chinese, Malay and Indian confinement practices emphasise the consumption of ‘warming’ foods and beverages.
What You Should Avoid
Acting like nothing has changed
Welcoming a newborn into the family is a massive change. Especially for first-time parents. So that’s rule number one, don’t act as though nothing has changed. Simple right?
Postpone your boys nights to clubs or pubs. Forget about late-nights watching EPL or UFC matches live. Parenthood isn’t just a mother’s duty, but yours too. Be there as much as you can. Remember your priorities.
Trying to ‘fix’ your wife
Don’t be solution-focused or try to ‘fix’ her. Birth brings about many changes to a mother, but in no way should you treat her as though anything needs to be ‘fixed’. Instead, focus on helping her recover healthy and supporting her throughout.
What You Can Do
Throw Her A Baby Shower
Baby showers are not limited to the pregnancy period. In several Asian cultures, it is customary to have ‘Full Month’ or ‘Whole Month’(满月 mǎn yuè) celebrations, the first month of your newborn’s life.
Another milestone that has become popular among young Singaporean parents is their baby’s 100 Day birthday. Having a 100 Day instead of a Full Month celebration gives you more time to prepare and more time for your wife to recover.
As Dr Christopher Ng, gynaecology specialist at GynaeMD Clinic, points out, new mums may face issues such as breast engorgement, pain from a C-section wound, urinary incontinence and haemorrhoids. It may take eight weeks or more for your wife to feel fully herself again.
Whether your family prefers an elaborate themed party or intimate gathering over a meal, it might be best to wait until your wife has recovered and is ready. Plan surprise parties at your own risk!
Engage A Confinement Caterer
Eating right is crucial for a smooth confinement period. Consuming the right herbs, soups and teas will make a difference in your wife’s postpartum recovery. What’s more, the right type of diet evolves during the different stages of confinement.
In traditional Chinese practices, it is believed that consuming Sheng Hua Tonics is crucial during the initial stage of confinement to dispel wind and discharge lochia and placental fragments from the womb effectively.
Can’t cook and don’t have time to research recipes? Confinement catering services are available.
Postpartum meal services are usually priced as single-meal (lunch or dinner) or dual-meal (lunch and dinner) packages lasting from one week to twenty-eight days.
Lactation cookies, postnatal massages, mummy-and-baby photoshoots...there are plenty of ways you can pamper your wife post-pregnancy.
If your wife has a sweet tooth, consider ordering lactation bakes for her. These treats are gaining popularity among breastfeeding mums. Some women even report an increase of up to 50% after consuming lactation cookies.
Be Patient With Parenthood
Parenthood is a team effort all the way. With your wife having to focus on taking care of her child as well as her own recovery, there’s only so much she can handle. So ease the load for her, find places to help wherever you can! Clean up the house, take-over on baby duty, and (most importantly) get her food.
Be patient. Parenthood is as new to her as it is to you, and mothers often worry if they’re doing things right. Reassure her when she needs it, and acknowledge her efforts, it’ll make all the difference.