By Blair Allen, Contributing Writer
In the past four years Brandon and I have had three children, bringing the grand total of children in our home to five. Through that process we have learned a thing two about navigating the initial postpartum phase. (Praise the Lord!) We have far from perfected this but do feel qualified to share a few tips.
1) Keep reading God’s Word!
This can be hard to do when you are barely accomplishing basic things such as, oh you know, showering. However, it is vitally important for the well being of your entire family. Reading even just a few scriptures a day is like a multivitamin for your soul and will prevent malnutrition. In the first couple of weeks you’ll be feeding the baby 8-12 times per day. Make it a habit to keep a glass of water and your Bible (or Wifi Bible!) nearby and read what you can. Then soak it up.
Really think on that verse or two until the next time you get some more of that Living Water. This habit will also give you something to connect with your spouse on beyond a level of, “Will you grab me a diaper?” and “Oh no! She just spit up all in my hair.” Check out the graphic below. When you and your spouse are actively seeking God you will not only be growing closer to God but also with one another. Closer than you ever could be without seeking Him.
Seriously. It took me only four babies to figure this out. The first four times my husband tried really hard to pick up my slack while I was recovering but it proved to be really stressful for the whole house. So before this baby arrived I stocked up on paper plates and plastic utensils. With minimal clean up and a clean kitchen we both felt at ease to sit down and just enjoy being a family.
3) Be physically intimate.
Now, I know the men reading this are shouting for joy and the women are either turning off their computer or yelling something not so joyous at the screen. Hear me out. You need to take care of your health. That means following the doctor’s guidelines to ensure that you recover properly. For some women that will mean they are ready to resume close physical intimacy at 4 weeks. Others not until 8 weeks or even longer.
1 Corinthians 7:1-7 says, “Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command.“
Ladies, it should never be your intent to use your “doctor’s note” as an excuse to go as long as possible without this contact with your husband. When possible talk about your expectations in this area before delivery. Some couples use the Old Testament verses regarding this issue as their guidelines, (Leviticus 12) while others trust their doctors to know best. Still others use their own intuition and experience to make the decision that is the best for their relationship. Having a plan before would be fantastic, but even a discussion is great!
Husbands, understand that your wife will feel all touched out if she is breastfeeding. The baby will eat for about 30-60 minutes every 2-3 hours, around the clock. She may not feel like cuddling. On the contrary she still needs you to hug her and show affection without expectation of physical intimacy later. A “no strings attached” kind of affection. A simple hand on her back while she is feeding the baby in the middle of the night will let her know you appreciate her taking care of the baby’s needs above her own and that you are in this parenting thing with her! That may seem obvious to you as the father and husband but trust me, mothers have (at least brief) moments of loneliness in those early weeks. Additionally, she may feel self-conscious about her postpartum appearance and needs to hear that you still find her attractive. Encourage her in this area with genuine compliments.
4) Help each other.
Wives, do not act superior to your husband in baby knowledge even if he has never changed a diaper and you were the eldest of ten children. It is important to boost your husband’s confidence in trying to build a relationship with his new child. Please do not be prideful. Instead, confess that if you know only one thing about babies it is that as soon as you figure them out, they will switch things up on you! Learn to laugh about that together. James 1:19-20 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” It is important to be careful in your tone and control your tongue even when you are exhausted. In fact during those times when we are most easily angered is in fact the best time to build self-control!
Children are such a blessing from the Lord. (Psalm 127:3-5) Relax and enjoy them. Just remember to do the same with your spouse too!