I often bring up my breastfeeding coach, Vivien, in my posts. I might not have had my husband fully onboard after our first child if it wasn’t for her and her outstanding Mandarin-speaking skills.
Ditto for his parents.
Language barrier or not, explaining postpartum hormones to a husband can seem a bit of a challenge. For one, they’re not going through it directly. And for another, well, we can get a bit scared when our hormones make us randomly cry for no apparent reason.
Postpartum resentment is a real thing. Some women are not attracted to their husband after baby, while others have resentment towards husband after baby. The common theme is that many new mamas hate the husband after the baby is born.
That’s because postpartum depression can be caused by the husband not participating in the life you’ve created together. Most of the time, it’s just men being clueless and not knowing how to help.
As I explained recently, most men need a nudge. They need a plan. They need to know what they can and should do so they can do it.
Think of it like this…
My husband isn’t handy in the sense that I couldn’t just drop wood and hardware in front of him and tell him to make something from it.
But if I bought a desk with instructions for assembly and asked him to put it together, he would totally do fine.
Unless your husband is a carpenter by trade, he’s going to need instructions to build that desk too.
So, to apply that to postpartum resentment, your husband doesn’t know all the pieces that are coming together in this. You’ve got to let him know, or he will continue about like Mr. Magoo without a clue.
How to prepare husband for postpartum
Are you a mind reader? No? Then don’t expect your husband to be. Tell him what you’ll need from him.
But Leslie, I’ve never had a baby before. How do I know what I’ll need?
Let me help you out…
Have him remind you of your strengths
From labor to delivery, and after you get home, your husband needs to cheer you on. This is a massive challenge for you mentally and physically. And if you have a c-section, it will be even more so. Having him remind you he’s on your side and believes in you will go a long way.
Show him what things need to get done
Before you have the baby, go over chores and things he may not usually do around the house. If he already helps out, that’s wonderful, but remind him he’ll be flying solo on the chores for a few weeks at least (more if you’ve had a c-section), so he can plan to either do them himself or get some help.
Have him bring food
This is especially true if you’ll be breastfeeding. Let him know that in the early newborn stage (about the first 4 weeks or so), that baby will take about 45 minutes to nurse and will want to eat about every 3 hours. That leaves you little time to get yourself something to eat.
Your body needs nutrition to keep making milk. So ask him to please be mindful of this and bring you a healthy snack like nuts, cheese, fruit, or something. Don’t forget the water either.
Take over so you can sleep
Your body must recover during the postpartum phase too. This will help it heal from birthing as well as for your mind to balance back out. I know he’s tired too, but if he can help you get a little more sleep either by spending time with the baby himself or making arrangements for help to come to your aid, it will help both of you.
Your hormones will be bonkers
They call it “the baby blues” for a reason. We all go through it because our hormones are going nuts. After a few weeks, this will balance out. For most of you, anyway. But if not, please, please, please tell your doctor and your husband. Get help because it is there, and you do not have to suffer from those feelings!
Nudge for a gift
As for my husband, he took me out shopping for the day when I felt more able to move around. It was nice to pick out things I liked. But your husband can bring you a gift too if he wants. After the baby is born, a gift for the wife is always a good idea. It doesn’t have to be jewelry or anything expensive, but something that is just for you – not for the household (like a vacuum) or the baby but for you.
Pay attention to postpartum depression
One of the most important things your husband can do in the postpartum period is pay attention to your behavior. He knows you best, so he should be checking in on you and really listening here.
If your baby blues don’t go away, you might be dealing with postpartum depression. Your mood may go from anger to anxiety in a flash. You may experience panic attacks, lose your appetite, feel depressed, or have insomnia. There are more signs than this, and for the comparison to baby blues vs. postpartum depression, you should check this link. Give it to your husband, and if he has any concerns, he should have you make an appointment with your doctor.
Healing takes a long time
For vaginal births, moms may be up and out of bed more quickly, but they’re still sore and bleeding. C-section moms will need longer than that to recover, and it will hurt in the vaginal area as well as the abdominals. Remind him that it will take a bit of time for you to feel like yourself again.
How to not hate your husband after kids
Ideally, you will not hate your husband after having kids if you both keep the lines of communication open. Problems arise when we don’t speak to each other about what’s on our minds.
That doesn’t mean screaming at him when he doesn’t take out the trash like you asked 100 times. It means opening up and telling him what you need by stating it with “I.”
Now, there are certainly husbands out there that suck, abusive with words or hands, and some fooling around with someone else. But for those who are clueless, perhaps a good book will have you feeling more amorous about him.
Aptly titled How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids, it’s a great read for every new mom.
What should you not tell your wife after giving birth?
This section is for your husband. Hi there, Hubby! If you love your sweet wife and want to help be supportive during this new part of your lives together, I’d love to let you in on a secret…do NOT say any of the following to her after she gives birth…
- Just get over it. You’ll be fine.
- I’m tired of you feeling depressed all the time.
- You should be happy! This should be the happiest time of your life because you’re a mom now.
- I liked you better before this.
- Snap out of it.
- You’ll feel better when you go back to work.
- You’ll feel better if you quit working and stay home with the baby all the time.
- You need to lose weight.
- Every new mom feels this way. Why are you special?
- You wanted the baby, so there you go.
- You’re strong enough to get through this on your own.
What should you tell her then?
Tell her you’re there for her and actually BE there for her mentally and physically. If you have to go out of town for work, check in on her and arrange for friends and family to come to help her or hire help.
Tell her you love her and that you’re proud of her. Tell her you’re confused about being a parent, but you’ll both figure it out together.
Basically, don’t let her feel like she’s out there on a limb without you.
How to help wife with postpartum depression
And husbands, if you’re wondering what to do if you think your wife has postpartum depression, please don’t wonder for long. Call the doctor and get her help. There are many sad stories about new moms taking their own lives because of postpartum depression. You don’t want to lose her forever, do you?
There’s help to be found at SAMSHA, an organization that helps with many problems, depression being one of them. You don’t have to feel alone in helping her, but don’t wait if you even remotely suspect postpartum depression.
I have a friend that was the most upbeat person you’d ever imagine. When she had her daughter, she went through severe postpartum depression. It was a nightmare. Fortunately, her husband was paying attention and urged her to go to the doctor. Her doctor was able to help, and ever since, she’s told all her friends that if they feel this way, there is hope and help.
She only had one child because she didn’t want to go through that ever again. Please don’t let your wife suffer like that. Childbirth is enough to deal with, plus taking care of a tiny human. I know this is a big change for you, but your body doesn’t look like a funhouse mirror, and hers does.
Show that love and compassion for the woman you promised forever to, and she will not have postpartum resentment. She’ll have postpartum love for you.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.