11 Rules for Husbands as Their Wives Transition Into Motherhood

11 Rules for Husbands as Their Wives Transition Into Motherhood

Moms share their best relationship advice for soon-to-be fathers.

By Leah Maxwell

Nothing is quite so life-changing as welcoming a new person into your family. More than one parent has compared it to a tornado whipping through your house and throwing everything into disorder. While some of the transitions are to be expected (you will sleep less, you will worry more), some of the challenges can come as a surprise, and one of the most major is how becoming Mom and Dad can change the relationship between Wife and Husband.

While many moms will be so consumed with all things kid that they don’t give a second thought to their husbands, dads can end up feeling forgotten and unsure of how they fit into the new family dynamic. “Many fathers don’t know how or when to step in and help,” says Diana Julian, a child sleep consultant and the founder of Big Sky Lullaby. “They might be confused about their role, wanting to be supportive but not always confident in their abilities.”

So, what’s a dad to do? Is there a playbook for how to handle the situation? Unfortunately, no, but what we do have are real tips from moms about how husbands should navigate this uncharted territory. Add your own advice in the comments and then share this with every dad you know.

1. “The first year is all about survival – survival as an individual and survival of your marriage (and, of course, the nugget’s survival). Don’t let the extreme exhaustion you are bound to experience color your decisions. It gets better. Life normalizes and you will start to feel like a human again.” -- Katie B., mom of one, Franklin, Tennessee

2. “Ask ‘How can I help?’ at least one time per day. Or once an hour, if she hasn’t showered, and it’s late in the day.” -- Rebecca M., mom of two, Dublin, California

3. “You aren’t a babysitter. If your wife goes out and leaves you with the kid, you don’t get any more props for parenting than she does. And if anyone tries to give you props for it, you say, ‘I do not deserve props for parenting my own child.’” -- Erin K., mom of two, Leesburg, Virginia

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4. “Get her a glass of water every time she sits down to breastfeed.” -- Holly F., mom of one (with one on the way), Los Angeles, California

5. “Never question or complain when she asks you to get up … in the middle of the night.” -- Nanette M., mom of two, Los Angeles, California

6. “For the first four months or so, it will feel like you have ceased to exist, and that’s OK. Having a baby is a pretty all-consuming task, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and your wife will be in the thick of it. Pay attention to some of what she does daily leading up to the baby, and then when baby comes, start doing those things, immediately and without being asked.” -- Jayme K., mom of two, Upland, California

7. “Be patient with the hormonal swings. Don’t take it personally. Be ready for random crying and/or fighting.” -- Jackie M., mom of one in New York City

8. “Take an active role in infant care and prepare for the arrival of your child. Don’t leave everything up to Mom. … Get educated – read books, do research, and/or take parenting classes.” -- Diana J., mom of one, Helena, Montana

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9. “Make sure your wife gets a decent meal after delivery.” -- Jessica S., Florence, Colorado

10. “The phrase, ‘I did it last time’ no longer exists in your vocabulary.” -- Hillary W., Coquitlam, British Columbia

11. “It's a huge transition for all of you, but keep in mind at all times that your wife is undertaking this enormous transition after also going through a physical experience that’s equivalent to a high-speed car crash. Be as generous and forgiving of her as you can possibly be, even if she has moments of treating you terribly.” -- Meredith S., New York City

What rules or advice do you have for soon-to-be dads?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/Dean Mitchell

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I would add that dad needs to be willing to put his plate aside if baby fusses during dinner. Let mom have a freshly cooked meal now and then :)

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I'd add that you need to watch for postpartum depression. We can't always see it and may need to be forced into getting treatment.

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