Her emotional needs & support
By Kidspot Team |
Many women will describe the early days as a 'roller coaster' of feelings and reactions, often experiencing sudden mood swings (known as the 'the blues'), around days 3 to 4 after the birth. At this time, she may feel anxious and be teary. These reactions usually evolve from not only the sheer enormity of giving birth, but also from the dramatic hormonal changes that are occurring within her body during this time, as her hormones adjust, and her breasts start producing milk. It is not uncommon in the early weeks for the woman to feel confident at some times, and unsure at others, as she learns about feeding and caring for your new baby (as you will experience as you become involved in your baby's care).
Partners can sometimes feel lost, or overwhelmed, as to how best they can support their partner when she expresses her emotions. Providing meaningful support can at times be challenging, because often she cannot even explain why she is crying, or feeling the way that she is. Some 'pearls of wisdom' from other fathers suggest that by just physically holding her when she cries, or if she feels uncertain, can often be all that is needed, to make her feel you are 'with her' at this time. Some women do not experience the obvious emotional ups and downs of 'the blues' after giving birth, but you can cuddle her anyway!
Feeding and caring for a new baby presents a steep learning curve for most women (and their partners). This can be made quite difficult, confusing and frustrating if she is receiving conflicting advice from professional caregivers, or well- meaning family and friends.
It is not uncommon for a new mother feeling guilty, or constantly worry that she is not doing the right thing, or being a 'good mother'. Try to reassure her that she is doing well, and the baby is fine (as this is usually the case). Being patient with each other, as you 'learn the ropes' is a skill you both need to utilise.
It is very normal to feel excited and anxious when your baby comes home. This can be particularly the case if your baby was premature, or needed to spend time in the intensive care nursery. In the following weeks, you both may experience periods of confidence, anxiousness, contentment, confusion and worry. This is very normal as you both find your way into parenting.
If your partner is breastfeeding, she will need both physical, and positive emotional support, around her, particularly during the early weeks. Learning to breastfeed, and overcoming any breastfeeding variations, can be filled with exhaustion, confusion and perhaps feelings of being completely overwhelmed. The level of practical support (or lack of it), as well as the attitudes of those around her, can have a direct impact on whether she continues to breastfeed. Most mothers will express how important it was, or how much better they felt (even when the feeding was difficult) when their partner (and/or family and friends) were supportive of their breastfeeding. Usually a partner's role in breastfeeding is based around supporting and helping the woman, as 'a team', in the caring for your new baby and keeping the household running.
Tips for Partners:
- Accept that your partner may have mood swings after the birth.
- Talk to her and ask her how she is feeling about being a mother. Share your own feelings. If you find she is concerned, or traumatised from the labour and birth experience, talk about it. When you both feel ready, try writing about the birth together, or separately. This may help process, or integrate, the birth experience. If she continues to dwell on how she is feeling, possibly talk about seeking out some counselling or professional advice.
- Acknowledge the enormity of what she has just been through, and is still going through with early parenting.
- Make time and space for her to share her feelings. Listen, and try not to feel you always have to 'fix it', if all she wants you to do is listen and cuddle her.
- Help her to do something that makes her feel good about herself. It may be suggesting she take a long shower while you look after the baby. Or giving her a foot massage while she is lying down, and the baby is asleep. When she feels nurtured and loved, this often has a positive effect on her emotions and how she copes with mothering.
- If your partner has lost their own mother (does not know her birth mother or has a bad relationship with her mother) she may go through periods of sadness and grief, as she adjusts to her own mothering role. This is a common response in this circumstance. You may even feel these things yourself, if you have lost your own parents. Talk to each other about how you are feeling. It is OK to be sad at this time.
- Remind her to take one step at a time in her new role of mothering, and tell her what a wonderful woman and mother she is.
- If you feel her emotions are very strong, or inappropriate, and they are concerning you, talk to her about them. It may be that these are more than the normal emotional reactions expected after giving birth, and when experiencing early parenting.