The early days of new parenthood can be brutal. Yet, as new moms, many of us struggle to admit we need help. And for good reason—when we’re in the thick of sleep deprivation, frequent feedings and physical healing, it can be hard to even know what we want or need, let alone articulate it and ask it of our partner.
Hindsight, though, is a beautiful thing. I asked other moms what, in retrospect, they wish they’d asked of their partners, and this is what they shared:
1. Feed me.
When we’re recovering from birth and also caring for a brand new baby, it can feel impossible to make sure we’re getting enough to eat.
“I wish I’d asked my husband to feed me every day,” says Kim Bongiorno, mom of two. “Even if it meant ordering dinner to have it delivered to me on nights he'd be late, just to take that one thing I needed but was too exhausted to do well off my plate would have been wonderful.”
2. Ask your family to either help out, or get out.
The addition of a new baby is often the first time when we are forced to put the needs of our own children and partners’ above our parents’ desires to spend time with their new grandchild.
“His mom and sister descended upon us for a week when our son was 5 days old, and they did NOTHING to help,” says Megan. Having her partner’s family hovering around meant that in addition to caring for her new baby and recovering from a difficult delivery, Megan also felt like she had to entertain and cook for her husband’s family. Megan’s expecting her second child soon, and this time, she and her husband have agreed to set boundaries around in-law visits.
3. Anticipate my needs.
I wish he’d anticipated my needs rather than waiting for me to ask him for something.
As new parents, we’re thrown into a constant assessment of what our babies need. Are they hungry? Tired? Poopy? Often, we could use someone looking out for our needs as well.
“I wish he’d anticipated my needs rather than waiting for me to ask him for something,” says Andrea, who has two daughters.
B, another mom of two, agrees that it’s really nice when our partners predict what might lighten loads of a new mom. “I wish she could have been more proactive in thinking ahead to what I might need and going outside of her comfort zone to accomplish that,” she says of her wife.
4. Give me affirmations.
Motherhood is likely the biggest job with the steepest learning curve we’ll ever embark on, and we need to be reassured that we’re doing well. But in the chaos of life with a new baby, our partners might forget that we need to be appreciated and complimented. “I wish I'd asked for more affirmation,” says Melissa C. Walker, who has two daughters. “Those quick, 'You're doing great' comments are such balm for new moms, and I don't think my husband knew to say it—though he does now.”
5. Take a shift—with confidence.
Being in the sudden, constant companionship of a newborn is tough, and simple things we’ve always taken for granted like being able to bathe alone become longed-for luxuries.
“I wish I had asked my husband to make sure I got a shower and 20 minutes alone each and every day,” says Jennifer Palazzo, mom of two.
Kristy, a mom of two girls, would have loved her husband to be more proactive in the newborn days. “I wish he’d told me what to do and either been confident or faked being confident in his ability to handle it without me for a bit,” she says. “I wish he’d said, ‘Go take a nap or a walk. I got this.'"