It is hard not to gush over a pregnant person— from complimenting them on their glow, exchanging birth experiences, and discussing postpartum plans, pregnant people easily attract attention. As the big day comes, moms and birthing parents take center stage, second only to the little bundle of joy that makes their earthside debut. It is right that moms are centered during this incredible physical and spiritual feat, and as doulas, we know the importance this support makes to a successful birth and postpartum recovery.
Fathers and non-birthing parents often play a large, if not the largest, supporting role in labor and delivery, especially in COVID-19 times where many places only allow one person in with the laboring person. Many fathers have stepped up and into the roles of birth partner/doula.
Following birth, mamas are often confined to bed for recovery, needing assistance for seemingly simple tasks like eating, standing, and sitting. While the non-birthing partner strives to continue the support present throughout pregnancy and delivery, it can become increasingly difficult to give from an empty cup, especially as the adrenaline around birth wears off and exhaustion sets in for both parents. The same support extended to birthing parents is necessary for non-birth partners, especially in the postpartum period.
Creating a postpartum plan ahead of time can be extremely beneficial for both parents, so there is a clear set of expectations and a foundation for communication. Things to include in your postpartum plan can include types of food desired in recovery, childcare responsibilities, visitor guidelines, and other important details. Like creating a birth plan, working out as many details ahead of time in your postpartum plan can greatly help reduce stress for both parents, and give clear expectations for the non-birthing parent.
A postpartum doula can be another very helpful resource for new parents. A postpartum doula may help occasionally relieve the non-birthing parent of responsibilities such as meal preparation and light housework. Additionally, extra support for the birthing parent and baby, such as lactation consultations, can be reassuring to both parents. If hiring a postpartum doula is not an option, the same support can be provided by family members and friends through meal trains and cleaning services. Remember, it takes a village!
Lastly, a great tip for new parents is to take shifts with baby. Alternating every four hours allows each parent to have a large chunk of time to themselves. This alone time is invaluable when every waking moment seems to go to your newborn. This time can be used to sleep, listen to music, take a bath, or engage in any other preferred self-care practices. Taking time alone might be the best gift to a new parent, especially to non-birthing parents that might feel responsible for not only baby, but also for mom. Time alone allows parents to recharge, ensuring that everyone will be more present and able to show up their best selves for their new family!
Amanya Maloba is a multi-disciplinary artist and healer with a focus on fiction, poetry, movement, and plant-based medicine. She is co-founder/Editor-in-Chief of Women.Weed.WiFi —an all-womxn of color art collective— a published author, entrepreneur, and community connector. Amanya is also a yoga instructor, doula, and mother.