Coming home with a new baby is a whirlwind. The constant cycle of feeding, diapers, and soothing, coupled with sleep deprivation will push you to unthinkable limits.
So many new-parent responsibilities can feel like they’re reserved for moms, but there are actually a lot of ways your partner can share the load during the fourth trimester beyond bottles and diapers. Sometimes our partners don’t know how best to help. Sometimes we’re too overwhelmed to think about how best they can help. This list is meant to help you think outside the box when it comes to ways your partner can help you manage the new-parent load.
At the Hospital/Birthing Center
Advocate for your partner and your baby to the doctors and nurses.
If there is a preferred birth plan, be familiar with it so that you can advocate for it.
Ask how she’s feeling and, if she needs, ask for help with the pain. For example, if breastfeeding is really hurting her, ask if this is normal or if there is anything else she can try like a pump or nipple shield).
Make sure there’s enough food and water available in the recovery room.
Contact the pediatrician to tell them your baby was born and schedule the first appointment.
Ask these questions and take the notes when the doctor tells you the answers.
If the doctor recommends any follow up appointments, set them up and add them to a shared calendar (e.g. Google Calendar).
Organize a folder so that informational paperwork is separate from documentation that’s needed once you get home.
If you haven’t already, install the car seat.
At Home (Right Away)
If mom is breastfeeding, book a lactation consultant. Breastfeeding is hard, even though we often think it’s going to be easy. Meeting with a lactation consultant is a great way to show your support for the breastfeeding journey.
Apply for baby’s birth certificate.
If you didn’t do it already at the hospital or birthing center, apply for baby’s social security card.
Learn how to sanitize pump parts/bottles/pacifiers and how to safely prepare/store breast milk or formula.
Make an outline of which bills are due when, and put the reminders on your phone to ensure they are paid on time. If you’re comfortable with it, setting up auto-pay for some or all of your bills helps a lot, too.
At Home (Day-to-Day)
Continue asking how your partner is feeling, and advocate for her to doctors if there are any concerns.
Advocate for your baby. If you think something is not quite right, put the call in to the pediatrician and ask right away. If you think of any general questions, start a list to ask at the next pediatrician appointment.
Own certain house chores completely (e.g. dishes, laundry, walking the dog, or cooking breakfast) so that it’s not a conversation every time a particular chore needs to be done.
Own at least one daily “baby” chore (e.g. the morning bottle, bathtime, an evening tummy time session, etc.) so that mom has a consistent time to look forward to every day.
Be the one to put the Amazon order in for diapers, spare bottles or pump parts, and any/everything you find that will make your life easier during the initial grind (read: paper plates and bowls).
Take baby out for a walk to give mom some alone time. Offer to take baby alone, but tell her she’s welcome to join if she needs some fresh air, too.
Do the grocery shopping (or, even easier, submit the Instacart order).
If your baby requires a NICU stay, take lots of photos during your visit and show them to mom when you get home.
Ask the doctors questions, and write down the answers so that you can discuss them with mom when you get home.
Learn how to safely store and transport breast milk.
Once you’ve agreed who to share with and what to share, help keep family and friends up to date regarding the baby's condition.
Find and join a support group as a couple.