Postpartum Communication: How to Better Understand a New Mom


postpartum communicationThe immediate weeks following baby’s birth are beautiful, life-altering, and exhausting.

After my third wonderfully healthy baby was born, there were fewer surprises but no less work, especially with his two older siblings in the house. Even though I had plenty of help, I’ll be the first to admit that my postpartum state of mind had me feeling all the feels and unable to effectively communicate exactly what I wanted/needed.

Too often, my husband was left scrambling to decipher my sleep-deprived mumblings, bearing the brunt of unidentified frustrations, and generally serving as a punching bag for my passive aggression. In order to help him and other postpartum partners sort through the incoherent signals and avoid taking it personally, I’ve put together the following translation guide.

Postpartum Communication Translations

Communication: General morning grumpiness

Translation: My blessed baby boy did not sleep alone all night and I have little hope of that changing tonight and even though I know this is temporary, right now it feels earth-shattering and I just need a cup of coffee.

Suggested Response: Offer a silent hug and the aforementioned coffee.

Communication: Frustrated sigh

Translation: I know you thought you were being helpful by bringing me a glass of water. But it’s not the right cup with the right amount of ice and even though I sound completely ungrateful, my throat is on fire as the baby sucks me dry.

Suggested Response: Let my unreasonableness roll off your back this time. And probably next time, too.

Communication: “Look, Daddy’s Home!”

Translation: Take the baby, hand me my coat, I’m off duty for the next hour. It’s possible I might just sit in a dark room and stare into nothingness. Don’t think I won’t.

Suggested Response: Dig deep and find that extra source of energy to help you take over even though you’ve already had a long day.

Communication: “That’s nice.”

Translation: So your friends want to take you to an NFL game six hours away in the height of flu season for an overdue boys weekend? So you need a break, is that it?

Suggested Response:  Postpone it until next season.

Communication: “Don’t touch the toys!”

Translation: I’m in a battle of wills with the toddler and kindergartener and I will let this house fall to the ground around me before I let them get away with not cleaning up their messes. Do not enable their victory!

Suggested Response: Crush the rebellion.

Communication: Head buried in phone/book/pan of brownies

Translation: This is my me time. I know you and I haven’t finished a conversation in six weeks, but if I don’t escape reality for 20 minutes, I will lose my mind.

Suggested Response: Perhaps a glass of milk would be appropriate.

Communication: Disgusted scoff while getting dressed

Translation: There is not a single item of clothing that fits my current body the way I want it to, so getting dressed is greatly displeasing. Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter what I wear because that will just trivialize my current frustration and ultimately make me feel worse.

Suggested response: Slowly back out of the room and leave me to it.

Communication: Bursting into tears when the baby’s wide awake at “bedtime.”

Translation: Let. Me. Sleep. Alone. In a bed. Horizontally.

Suggested response: Listen to the woman.

My husband might suggest that I should just improve my communication so that such a guide is unnecessary. He’s not wrong, and that is the only New Year’s resolution I intend to make this year. However, tired moms gifted with tiny lives to safeguard are dealing with a lot. Fair or not, our partners might be our biggest targets even as they are also our biggest allies.

But there’s no one else I’d rather miscommunicate to.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here