23 moms share what they wish their partners understood about having a baby


Giving birth to your first child can be terrifying. Often, the focus is on the birthing parent that their partners are forgotten and sometimes not even prepared.

Insider asked 23 moms about what they wish their partners knew about the postpartum period. Themes like loneliness, physical discomfort, and a sense of being changed were the most common responses.

Here’s what the mothers wish their partners knew.

It can be very lonely

having a baby can be very lonely

Despite plenty of well wishes and visitors coming to see the new baby, lots of moms said that they were incredibly lonely postpartum.

Being the only person they knew experiencing postpartum pain, the difficulties of breastfeeding, or the challenges of adapting to motherhood left many women feeling emotionally isolated, even when they were surrounded by other people.

  • “The physical, mental, and emotional pressure that new moms carry is the heaviest, loneliest thing in the world,” said Claire Holmes, 35.
  • “Breastfeeding would be the hardest, loneliest, darkest experience of my motherhood journey,” said Erin Gallagher, 41.
  • “I wish my partner understood how isolating postpartum can feel. While it’s historically been painted as a period for bonding with a newborn, it’s also a time of immense personal change,” said Yulia Saf, 35.
  • “Postpartum is lonely. Even when you’re surrounded by family, have visitors pouring in through the door, and have a beautiful baby by your side, it’s the loneliest thing I’ve ever experienced,” said Beth McCallum, 28.

Recovering from birth is really hard

While there’s lots of talk about the challenges of giving birth, many women felt their partners didn’t understand the physical and emotional recovery that happened after the baby arrived. 

Recovering from tears, cesarean sections, and even straightforward vaginal deliveries was compounded by the physical demands of caring for a newborn while navigating sleep deprivation.

  • “Giving birth isn’t the end of the physical and emotional marathon — it’s just the beginning,” said Amy Smith, 36.
  • “The recovery process after giving birth is more challenging than many anticipate. It’s not just about the physical healing; it’s also about the emotional adjustments,” said Eloisa Hife, 32.
  • “I wish my partner understood just how much effort it takes to carry a child and give birth. It’s not only the nine months of pregnancy, which can be exhausting in itself but also the physical toll that labor and childbirth take on your body,” said Lori Walker, 32.
  • “Birth is not just a brief event: recovery can be challenging,” said Prerna Jain, 32.
  • “Postpartum recovery can be incredibly taxing and even painful,” said Lauren Byington, 35.

You are not who you once were

Lots of the mothers felt deeply changed by childbirth, physically and emotionally.

They expressed some frustrations that their partners didn’t understand just how profound these changes were or that their partners expected them to “bounce back,” becoming the same after birth as they’d been before it.

  • “Mothers are also, in a way, giving birth to ourselves in the new role as mother,” said Jaime Goldman.
  • “I wish men really understood the fourth trimester. You feel like an alien in your own body trying to figure out how to find your old self,” said Eliza Gwendalyn Mova, 36.
  • “I felt like a completely different person physically and emotionally. I don’t think partners understand how much change women go through during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. It can take years to feel like yourself again,” said Amy Jackson, 42.
  • “Giving birth is an out-of-body experience, except you don’t come back into the same body; it’s completely different. I am completely different. There’s a new part of me, and no, I’m not talking about the stretch marks alone,” said Anna McMillan, 34.

It’s overwhelming

Many women expressed that they needed their partners to make decisions proactively. That’s because their exhaustion was so deep that even a little decision or knowing what to ask for felt like too much.

Abbey Sangmeister, 42, said she was so tired after giving birth that she couldn’t verbalize what she needed. “If partners, friends, and family could anticipate one’s needs like having food they love ready for them, keep their water bottles filled, and change any diapers,” she said.

For Therese Masiello-London, 42, even the smallest decisions were overwhelming amid the fog of sleepless nights.

“I was so physically and mentally exhausted,” she said. “There were many days when even the simplest tasks felt overwhelming. Making a simple decision, such as what outfit to put on the baby, felt like too much.”

Intimacy isn’t a priority

Nicole Kumi, 41, wished that someone had told her partner that while he was craving sexual intimacy, she was feeling touched out and insecure in her body, with little desire for sex.

“The intimacy is not a priority for us in those first few months,” she said. “Women are focused on survival and caring for another human, and sometimes our partners cannot conceptualize that.”

Learn about postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is the most common complication for women who have just given birth. Many of the moms wished their partners knew a bit more about the condition and how common it is — affecting about one in seven women.

Postpartum depression

  • “I wish that my partner (and our society) knew that having postpartum depression didn’t mean anything was wrong with me. I was simply experiencing some biochemical and hormonal shifts,” said Claire Uncapher, 46.
  • “Postpartum depression does not discriminate to those exclusively with mental health issues. It can impact anyone,” said Karissa Whitman, 31.

The blues will pass

The baby blues — feelings of sadness that are usually more fleeting than postpartum depression — affect about 80% of new moms. Gennifer Rose wanted her partner — and herself — to know that the feelings were normal and would pass.

“Even when you’re beaming with pride holding your baby, you have this little cloud hanging over you. As an experienced mother with more than one child, you know that this feeling is temporary and it will pass. But when it’s your first baby, it’s an emotion that you really don’t expect,” said Gennifer R.

You can only do so much at birth

While having a supportive birth partner is important, women want their partners to understand that when it comes to labor, most of the work falls on the birthing parent.

  • “I wish we both had understood it was me and me alone getting the baby out. He could be as kind, caring, and loving as possible, but truly, there was no way to know what I would need and nothing anyone else could do for me,” said Carrie Levine, 52.
  • “Labor may be long,” said Olivia DeLong, 37. “Pack things to keep occupied: books, an iPad loaded with shows, and a pillow for times when you’ll be sleeping or resting on an uncomfortable pull-out bed.”

Quiet is essential

Tahwii Spicer, 38, wished her partner understood how much she wanted a calm environment, even amid the excitement of welcoming a baby.

“The desire to create a peaceful, quiet, and warm bubble around our family while we adjusted without much interruption from the outside world was all I truly yearned for,” she said.

There’s so much pride

A decade after giving birth, Kristin Revere, 49, still remembers how powerful she felt.

“I wish that my partner and all partners could understand the amazing feeling of accomplishment we have after giving birth, no matter how we birth our babies,” she said. “The closest thing I can relate to is the feeling of running a really good race and being overjoyed and exhausted at the same time.”

We need to learn how to communicate

We need to learn how to communicate

With so many unspoken changes swirling around, many women said that learning (or relearning) how to communicate openly was critical.

  • “The biggest hurdle of parenting is actually communicating with one another,” McMillan said.
  • “I wished my partner understood the importance of open communication. Sharing fears, anxieties, and joys can strengthen the bond during this transformative period,” Hife said.

Source: Insider.com