New movie ‘Tully’ takes an honest look at parenthood, domesticity and gender roles. Sanjima DeZoysa, NCT’s Parent Content Manager, looks at what every partner needs to know in those early days with a newborn and considers five things new mums really want from their partners.
Don’t be afraid to share the load and get your hands dirty
Dads and partners need to get involved and do the everyday stuff with their babies – feeding, changing, washing, getting them off to sleep and the 101 other things that need to be done.
Remember that being a mum doesn't automatically mean your partner knows everything - she's a new parent too. She’ll really appreciate you getting stuck in even if you don’t get everything 100% right.
Get your hands dirty - and not just when it comes to nappy changing (though that is one of the most practical things you can do to help).
Talk to us and really check we’re OK
We know that postnatal mental issues affect 1 in 10 women and this is a key theme of ‘Tully’. We also know that it’s usually a woman’s partner, family or friend who spots the signs first.
Be there for your partner, let her know you understand how she’s feeling and that you’re there for her 100%. That way, she’ll be more likely to open up when she needs it most.
If you ask: ‘How are you?’, take the time to listen to what she says (and how she looks when she says it). Read between the lines and if you don’t think she is OK, keep talking.
It’s important for you too, as we know dads can suffer from postnatal depression – be open, share how you’re feeling and have each other’s back to get through those early months.
Don’t judge us… boost us
Motherhood is hard and sometimes mums don’t share how they really feel for fear of being judged. In the haze of sleep deprivation and rioting hormones, new mums can be even more sensitive. So don’t make judgemental comments!
To any new dad/partner – please try to understand we might be feeling sensitive and that you can really help by raising our spirits. When we’re despairing about what a rubbish mum we are, tell us how great we are. Try to show your appreciation for the big and little things we do every day.
Wait until we’re in the mood again
Let your partner take the lead on deciding when to start having sex again. Neither of you may feel like having sex for a while after the birth for lots of reasons including soreness, tiredness and a demanding newborn to care for.
You may both have concerns about post-birth sex: Will it hurt? Will it feel differently? Talk about it all openly and remember that there are other ways of showing affection.
Let your partner know that you still love and fancy her, but that you’ll wait for the right time for both of you.
Appreciate what we do
Most new mums are on a seemingly endless treadmill of caring, cleaning, wiping, feeding, soothing… and getting recognition that it’s a difficult job hard can make all the difference.
So, to all dads and partners out there who walk through the door and think they’ve had a tough day: Spare a thought for mum. It’s not all daytime TV, cosy cuddles and cake. Find out how their day was and show how much you appreciate everything they’re doing to look after your new baby…and how tough it can be.
Having a newborn can be overwhelming and every day can throw up something new. It can make the world of difference to a new mum for someone else to reassure them that they’re doing a good job. You might just find you get a pat on the back too.
For loads more information and tips about pregnancy and parenthood, visit www.nct.org.uk.