Fathers are vitally important to the wellbeing of their partners and children, but can sometimes feel like (totally useless) spare parts when their babies are young.
This article is for you if you’re feeling a little uncertain about your new role, but really want to show up for your family in the most loving way.
Let us first reassure you: YOU MATTER. You really do. Your presence is precious and your children adore you way before they can speak.
A good doula can help you find your feet during birth to keep you as involved as you want to be during labor and greeting your child, but without too much pressure on you to offer all the support, (unassisted birth also being an enjoyable option for some couples).
A postnatal doula can help feed your family and support your partner with healing, achieving successful breastfeeding and general recovery.
But not many families can afford 24/7 care for 6 weeks, and most wouldn’t want that level of involvement anyway.
So how do dads adjust, and what do you DO when all the help is gone and you are left holding the fort?!
If you’ve had the benefit of watching your postnatal doula then you’ll have some ideas of the nourishing touch you can bring to your home.
Here are some practical tips to discuss with your partner about how she might feel loved and cared for in those early weeks:
1. organize a meal train a.k.a simple rota for people to bring food (unless you love cooking yourself).
Food speaks of community and wellness. Whether it’s your partner’s family, or yours, or from your friendship group and extended community (hopefully ALL these avenues!) People LOVE to be asked to help out and be part of a team.
Have helpers package the food in containers that do not need returning (for the most smooth and easy process for everyone) and consider taking your own reusable containers to the cooks for an eco-light touch.Offer to collect food that has been cooked. Many of the chefs will be busy moms themselves and collecting their offerings can communicate gratitude, respect and give you a sense of reciprocating energetically.
If you don’t have the ability to arrange a meal train, try speaking with your partner, to her best friend, or your local community center/ place of worship to see how they can set things in motion.
2. minimize visitors, especially in the first few days, to only those people who lift you all up, offer gentle help in the home, and/or those who are important family members who will lovingly respect your space.
In-laws, out-laws, mom’s own parents and health professionals can be the most potentially disruptive people in the early days.
As a dad one of your jobs is to honor everyone who loves or cares for the new child, whilst creating boundaries that feel safe to your partner so she can relax and do her work of caring for your baby with as much rest and recovery as possible.
There are some mothers being accosted by relatives and having the baby literally taken out of their arms. These are the relations who really need to be managed. Seat them ’five’ rooms away with cups of tea? If you’re expecting these kinds of relatives you need to make a plan and get support to keep them occupied. If you find boundaries being pushed you should be ready with some key phrases to gently assert your immediate family’s needs. “We’re trying to (allow our baby to adjust slowly to all the new sights and sounds of the world), and value your gentle support (to let mom and baby rest)”.
On the other hand there are sometimes close family members completely excluded from meeting the newborn, which is generally a really bad idea for ‘karma’ and your keynote to totally destroy relationships. Unless they are going to cause physical harm or emotional manipulation at such a level you need to create a massive distance from them, try to be honest with yourself and your partner that this child has the right to a relationship with all those who will love him/her.
Hurt feelings, sleep deprivation and the Ego can make things look a lot worse than they really are. Get neutral help and perspective from someone professional if you really can’t tell which side your relatives’ behavior falls on the scale of insensitive vs actual abuse.
Although you don’t necessarily have a masters in psychology, or long years of experience in establishing loving, healthy boundaries with non-violent communication...this ‘boundary-ing’ is going to be one of your huge roles. Perhaps even a primary role for some of you dads.
Our Ayurdoulas have a detailed template they can help you both through during pregnancy to head off any trouble or hurt feelings ahead of time.
Be honest. Have integrity. Set limits. Thrive.
3. Food & Drink station for Mom
This one is quick and straightforward! Phew.
Back to food and drink!
If your partner is breastfeeding she may feel hungry and thirsty almost all the time to begin with. Setting up a couple of snacking stations where she tends to feed will be a valuable gift. Having bottles of water and flasks of warm postpartum tea will keep her hydrated, support her milk supply and help towards healing her body too.
Moms never forget the help they receive, especially in those first 6 weeks. Whatever loving service you give to her is as much of an investment in your relationship 40 years ahead, as it is to the physical health of your partner and child.
Check out our Ayurvedic herb packages here if you’d like to bring in this healing science to your family’s postpartum experience.
Or take our parenting preparation course.
Here’s to your success in building a family of loving kindness.
Writing compliments of
Mother, Doula, Homeopath
Oum Ibrahim birthed joyfully into motherhood in 1999 and has been serving women as a doula ever since. A mom of many, homeopath and soft tissue therapist, she is drawn to the rhythm and respect that Ayurveda offers for all seasons of life. Oum has a particular fascination with the formation of community and relationships and you can read some of her ponderings here on the Sacred Window Blog.
Here at the Center for Sacred Window Studies, we share voices from many perspectives and backgrounds. We believe that the sacred weeks post birth, and the experience of humanity is experienced in countless ways. We learn by listening to one another and honoring our stories. The views and opinions of our writers do not necessarily reflect the mission, viewpoints or opinions of the Center for Sacred Window Studies.