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:
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
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.”
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.'"