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Real TALK: Communicating Through the Perinatal and Postpartum


Communication is key to human connection and is a major tool during postpartum. However, speaking up and making your needs, desires, hopes, frustrations, and boundaries known is no easy task.

I remember going through this time in my life and feeling this huge transformation physically, mentally, and spiritually. Talking about what I was feeling was vital to having my partner relate to me and meet me where I was since he wasn’t physically making a baby leg in his uterus nor receiving internal roundhouse kicks by a fetal Bruce Lee (with said baby leg).

There’s no doubt that good communication will help you and your partner feel more in tune with yourselves and with each other. That foundation can be such a relief going into the postpartum when the feeling of control is lost. I am just another human and not a professional therapist or communication expert! But there are things I’ve learned throughout the years that have truly helped foster good communication in my professional and personal relationships. Here are a few tips to help you TALK to your partner:

T: Timing

Making sure you are communicating when your partner is ready to receive that information is important. I have come home plenty of times to obliviously offload stories, frustrations, or hilarious anecdotes to my partner who is just not in the headspace to listen at that moment. I once read an article that said the first hour after partners get home from their work day is usually when most arguments happen – there’s just not enough time to decompress! If you really want to talk to your partner, make sure he or she knows it’s an important topic that you’d like to discuss and ask if now or another time would be better. If your partner wants to talk about which player scored which goal in the World Cup while you’re trying to get your newborn on who is crying and turning red because she can’t get the latch quite right – “NOW is not the time, Dan!!!”

A: Acknowledge and Affirm

Being honest about what emotions are coming up and your thoughts about those emotions is sometimes the hardest part. With stress and sleep deprivation, your thoughts and emotions can run wild. These feelings can change minute to minute. Grief, confusion, frustration, sadness, exhaustion, pure joy, wonder, accomplishment, contentment. What are you feeling? How do you feel about that? What do you need? How can your partner best support you in that moment? Affirm those feelings. Emotions aren’t right or wrong – they just are what they are. Let it out – talk to your partner, your friends, your family, your therapist, your doula, whoever you feel comfortable sharing with. Your village is there for unending support.

L: Listen

To be able to truly engage in productive communication, try to listen to what your partner is saying or how he or she is responding to you. Sometimes after you’ve said your piece, you are already thinking about your next bullet point to communicate. Try to actively listen and take note of how you are feeling and how your partner is as well. Pausing in silence to reflect back what you heard can also prevent any miscommunication that happened in translation. “I’m hearing that you want to eat Hot Cheetos but are scared that they may be too spicy in your breast milk. Is that accurate, Love?”

K: Kindness

Be kind to yourself and to your partner. This is uncharted territory, whether it’s your first baby or your transition into a bigger family of 4 or 5. There is no how-to book to succeed in every postpartum situation. There may be 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. Adapting to these changes and holding yourself and your partner with the same love and kindness as you would your best friend is paramount to keeping the foundation strong through some quaky times.

When things get hard, go back to the basics and use simple phrases. For example, here are a few conversation openers:

“I want to talk to you about how I’ve been feeling lately. Is now a good time?”

“I feel sad about . I think it’s because of .

“How have you been feeling?”

“Just wanted to check in. What’s been on your mind? Are you doing okay?”

“I am upset because _. I wanted to let you know because it’s been bothering me.”

“I need 5 minutes. Can you take the baby while I take a beat?”

Clear, concise, and conscious communication. Be honest, be kind, and the rest will follow.