Home / Life What partners can do: 5 ways to support mom + baby in the 4th trimester Dads truly make the difference—in breastfeeding, birth recovery and baby’s happiness. By Motherly January 15, 2017 Look at you two! We agree—that’s the cutest baby ever made. Good job, parents! Just because baby and mom share a special bond doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton you can do to support your growing family. Dads who get consciously involved with baby care early and often reap lifelong rewards—from a close partnership or marriage to a deeper relationship with your child. Dad, here’s what you can do in those early days of birth recovery to both support mom + bond with baby. 1. Help her recover from birth: C-section birth A photo posted by Monet Nicole (@monetnicolebirths) on Nov 26, 2016 at 1:18pm PST Do skin-to-skin. Research shows that dads who stepped in to provide skin-to-skin care while their partners recovered from C-sections were able to help their babies keep calm and comfortable. Take paternity leave if you have it. Don’t leave it on the table if it’s offered to you. Respect her physical limits. She needs several weeks to heal after a C-section, and may need support lifting baby or doing housework. Arrange additional support. A night nurse, a mother-in-law and friends all can help her recover from this major surgery, especially if you need to return to work. Help her recover from a vaginal birth. A photo posted by Monet Nicole (@monetnicolebirths) on Dec 29, 2016 at 7:53pm PST Make sure your partner is comfortable when she goes to the bathroom. Encourage her to take pain medication as recommended by her doctor. Take paternity leave if you have it. Don’t leave it on the table if it’s offered to you. Respect her physical limits and need to heal after birth. Don’t pressure her for sex. Be gentle and understanding when you do restart intimacy. Encourage your partner to talk to her doctor if she experiences ongoing pain. 2. Support her breastfeeding goals A photo posted by Plus Modelâï¸ Mom âï¸ Feministð¥ (@tessholliday) on Aug 8, 2016 at 9:30pm PDT Dads make a difference. Research shows that supportive dads can help mom and baby to meet their breastfeeding goals. Your support matters! Bring your partner a fresh glass of water every time she nurses. (Bonus points for adding a straw, which helps her consume more fluid.) Gift her a new nursing bra (here are some of our favorites). Research lactation consultants near you as needed. (Find one here.) Make her Mother’s Milk tea to help boost her supply. Bake lactation cookies. They may or may not help, but they are a tasty treat. Encourage her and remind her what an incredible mom she is—especially at 3 am. “I love you” goes a long way. Bring her the baby in bed to nurse and set a post-feed timer on your phone to make sure she brings the baby back to his crib for safe sleep. Affirm and respect her baby feeding choices. Remind her she’s doing amazing work for your baby. 3. Support her if formula feeding. A photo posted by Joel Ragar (@jdragar) on Jan 13, 2017 at 9:09pm PST Research the right formula for your baby’s needs. Offer to take over all the feeds when you’re home. Clean all the bottles. “I love you” goes a long way. Burp baby after mama is done feeding. Affirm and respect her baby feeding choices. Remind her she’s doing amazing work for your baby. 4. Jump into bonding with baby. A photo posted by Elle Rowley (@sollybabywrap) on Jan 10, 2017 at 8:02pm PST Talk, read and sing to baby—the sound of your voice is key to promoting literacy. Why not start a bedtime story routine on day 1 of baby’s life? Start a baby-and-daddy ritual. Are you the bath time guru? King of the diaper change? Baby walker extraordinaire? Own it. Take a night shift. Whether offering baby a bottle, helping to soothe a crying newborn or just changing a diaper—your wife needs rest, and this is an important time for you to step up. Baby-wearing looks great on dads, too. 5. Understand what mom + baby need in the ‘4th trimester.’ A photo posted by Heirlume Photography (@heirlumephotography) on Jan 13, 2017 at 3:47pm PST The “baby blues” are normal—but postpartum depression and anxiety, while common, require additional support and medical intervention. Be on the lookout for signs. Postpartum Progress provides a really helpful overview of the signs of postpartum depression and anxiety. Remind her that she is an amazing woman. “You look amazing,” is always the right thing to say. Support her as she attempts to reach her health goals postpartum—even if that means spending the money to join a new gym or subscribe to a meal plan. Don’t judge when she needs to buy new clothes to fit her new shape. Encourage her as she goes back to work from maternity leave or becomes a new stay-at-home mom. She needs alone time, even if she doesn’t ask for it. Encourage her to spend some time away from baby. You’ve got this.