Biological motherhood is not for the faint at heart. Conceiving, growing, birthing, and recovering from baby-making is gratifying, but it's also extremely difficult. If you haven't had a person live in you, storm out of your body, and rely on you for most or all of their physical and emotional needs, it can be hard to appreciate just how intense new motherhood is. So, here's a little guide that highlights the many things new moms want their partners to know about their bodies, for a little perspective.
I could write for days about the many, many things that I wanted when I first became a mom, the wonderful things my partner did that made my life easier, the horrible things I've heard other people's partners say and do to them during this time, and so much more. Honestly, the most important thing you need to know is that this whole postpartum thing is hard AF, so if you're the partner of a new mother help her sleep, get her food, don't pressure her about sex, and give her lots of compliments.
Of course, assisting your postpartum partner will probably mean doing more than your ordinary share of chores and stuff for a while, but since her body's doing a lot more than its ordinary share of, well, everything, that's kinda just how things need to be for a while. So, with that in mind, here are a few things every new mom wants and needs her partner to know about her body, post-baby and beyond.
Her Body Is Doing A Lot
Even if she's just laying in bed, a new mom is multitasking. Her body, which just made a whole person and birthed that person, is now healing from childbirth and making milk (a process that takes up 30 percent of her resting energy alone), on top of all the normal stuff it has to do. Keep that in mind before you ask her to do anything that you can possibly do yourself.
Napping Every Two Hours Feels Like The Opposite Of “Beauty Sleep...”
New moms often end up sleeping like babies: fitfully, waking every couple of hours, often with a fair amount of crying involved. Not so helpful for a body recovering from giving life (and which is still sustaining the baby, if she's nursing). It's definitely not helpful when you're already feeling kinda blah in the body image department. Sigh.
...So When She Says She’s Tired, She Means It In A Whole New Way
Do everything you can to help her get enough rest. Unless you and your partner have mutually agreed to indulge your angry resentful zombie fetish, of course.
She Needs To Eat And Drink Often…
I'll never understand how, "Get me a sandwich" became a thing people joke about sexist dudes saying to women, mostly because nobody needs a sandwich (and all the other food in the world) more than a pregnant or postpartum mom. Especially if she's nursing.
...But She Might Be Too Tired Or Overwhelmed To Remember
So go get her a sandwich, ]or whatever else she likes to eat. Don't even wait to be asked, just always be getting snacks and drinks.
Her Body Is Totally New To Her
Seeing yourself for the first time after giving birth is nuts. Everything is somewhere different than it was as little as a few hours before, and all of a sudden there's nobody swirling around and kicking you every few minutes. Then your body spends the next few months or longer settling into a different size and shape. Fun...
She’s Trying To Make Peace With It
Trying, and not always succeeding, because for most ladies that basically means having to unlearn everything she's ever been taught about what a "good" body looks like.
She’s Worried About What You Think
Sure, we all know intellectually that we're supposed to accept ourselves and that our partners should do the same, but when your body looks like a totally different person overnight, it's hard not to feel insecure about what your partner will think of it.
Choose your words wisely when you talk to her and compliment her, both because it's the right thing to do and 'cause you really don't want to incur her (and her best friends', and everyone in her online mom groups) wrath.
Dealing With Clothes Is Kind Of The Worst Now
Being a new mom pretty much means constantly wanting to set your whole wardrobe on fire and start over. Your maternity clothes feel too big, your pre-pregnancy clothes feel too small or just fit oddly, and you don't want to shell out an obscene amount of money for new clothes when your size and shape is literally changing by the day.
Be (even more) patient when she's getting ready, and try to be reassuring.
She Might Feel Touched Out More Than Usual...
New babies want to be allllll over their mamas, and all the time. Understandable, from their perspective: she's the only familiar thing in this totally new world they live in.
However, all that cuddling, rocking, bouncing, and/or nursing (to say nothing of getting spit up or pooped on) can leave a lady cringing at the thought of anyone else touching her. Most likely, that "anyone else" will be you. Try not to take it personally. It's not about you.
...But Sometimes She Might Really Need Physical Affection From Someone Who *Isn’t* The Baby
Baby cuddles are awesome, but sometimes there's just nothing more fulfilling than an affectionate (or sexy) touch from your partner. Ask her if she'd like you to do something to make her feel good, like give her a massage (without obviously angling for anything in return).
It might help her get some much-needed sleep, or it might lead to some much-needed sex. Either way, it'll help your relationship.
She’ll Feel Normal Again, Eventually
It might feel like forever in the moment, but this "new baby, alien body" period is actually really short when compared to the grand scheme of things. As she heals and as baby gets older and less physically dependent on her, her body will settle into a new normal. Help her get through this weird patch, be patient and understanding (especially when it comes to sex), and you'll both reap the benefits for years to come.