In my experience, there are two things new moms feels insecure about: their bodies and how they're doing in their new role as someone's parent. Both are tremendously difficult, although I have to admit I haven't had to deal with the former yet. As an adoptive mom, my body stayed relatively the same (although much more exhausted!), but I definitely had to deal with the latter. Thankfully, there are things every grown-ass man (in my case, my partner) does when a new mom is feeling insecure and, yes, they do make a tremendous difference.
As an adoptive mom, I can say that I'm grateful I didn't have to deal with the physical insecurity that normally comes with a postpartum body. Honestly, the, "Am I a good enough mom?" side of things was difficult enough to handle. Despite my best efforts, it was difficult to avoid thinking that because I didn't grow my baby myself, I wasn't a "real mom." I feared that I was behind or lacking, because I didn't have 40 weeks (more or less) to bond with a growing baby inside my belly, especially when I felt like I wasn't figuring motherhood out fast enough. In other words, if I was experiencing a particularly hard day, I really needed someone to redirect the negative thoughts that were sure to take hold and fill me up with self-doubt.
Enter my loving partner. Thank goodness we had been married long enough for him to spot a meltdown coming a mile away. He's pretty good with a standard pep talk, but he's also good at diversifying his tactics when it comes to helping me feel more secure in my motherhood. He may never (ever) put his shoes away after the millionth time I've asked him to, but he comes through when I really need him.
He Gives A Pep Talk
Seems to me that every partner (husband, wife, or otherwise) needs to perfect the art of the pep talk. Sometimes all it takes, especially when you're feeling insecure about your body or your ability to mother a tiny human being, is a good pep talk to pump you back up. Even if you already know what is being said to you, and even believe it, hearing it out loud and from someone you love can make all the difference in the world.
He Doesn't Try To Fix It All
During the first few years of our marriage, my husband's pep talk game was seriously impeded by his desire to fix everything quickly so I would stop having meltdowns. After several years, I think he finally understood that I didn't always need something fixed. Instead, first and foremost, I needed someone to listen and empathize and tell me I wasn't totally bonkers.
He Helps Make A Plan
For the most part, helping to make a plan was what I needed in order to start feeling like a more competent mother. Sometimes you just need someone to help you put one foot in front of the other, usually in the form of bullet points, to help you feel a little better about what you're doing.
He Gives Her A Break
When I was feeling particularly down on myself as a new mom, I just needed some perspective. I found it really hard to have to judge how I was doing minute-by-minute, but I couldn't quite get myself out of that cycle. Taking a break, and I mean really walking away and not having any mothering responsibilities for a few hours, allowed me that perspective to realize I was definitely not doing so bad after all.
He Encourages Her To Call Another Support Person
Of course, this person could be anyone: a best friend, a fellow coworker, a sibling, or whoever you feel will unequivocally support you. For me, however, that person is always my mom.
If you have a good relationship with your mom, which I do, sometimes pawning the pep talk off on your mom is the best route. My husband can usually could tell when a necessary pep talk was far above his pay grade. Plus, sometimes it's more encouraging to hear from your own mom that she thinks you're doing a good job.
He Lets Her Get Some Sleep
At least half of my "I'm a terrible mom" meltdowns result from being totally sleep deprived. I needed real, uninterrupted sleep in order to get a grip. Grown-ass men offer to take the kid to the park or even for a walk around the block or to your in-laws for several hours so you can sleep without being tempted to peek out to see how things are going.
He Provides The Wine
When all else fails, wine. Again, I didn't have to deal with questions about safely consuming alcohol while breastfeeding or pumping, so wine was almost always a good option. But seriously, wine or a margarita or a bar of fancy chocolate from Whole Foods is just a little pampering that can make a new mom feel better.
He Calls The Girlfriends In For Reinforcement
Like a good mom pep talk, sometimes you need your girlfriends as a sounding board for new motherhood. A friend's husband encouraged my friend to invite me over, then sat us on the porch with a bottle of wine (and came by often to top us up) while he parked himself inside with the baby monitor. It was the ultimate in new-mom luxury.