Calling All New Moms: Are You a Maternal Gatekeeper?

maternal gatekeeper couple

I mean this in the most loving way imaginable: I kind of hated my husband for the first few weeks after I had my son. (There, I said it.)

No, I don’t mean it in the cliché “you did this to me!” sense. It’s more that, post-labor, as the hazy adrenaline of our hospital stay started to wear off, I found myself annoyed that he couldn’t seem to keep up with my newfound mom superpowers that gave me the instant—albeit inflated—ability to translate my newborn’s every need.

Examples of things I muttered in his direction during this time: “You forgot the A&D Ointment…again. Way to give our baby diaper rash.” Or “Are you trying to suffocate him with that swaddle? Forget it—I’ll just do it myself.”

I’m not proud of myself, but before you cast judgment, hold up: Apparently, I was just being a maternal gatekeeper, a term coined by author Jancee Dunn in her book, How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids.

Gatekeeping sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking. That’s because we’ve talked about it before—specifically, how it applies to your marriage. But maternal gatekeeping applies a parental spin: Basically, it’s the idea that moms have a tendency to deliberately shut out and micromanage their partner after baby. Scolding your spouse over a diaper change, volunteering (in an exasperated voice) to step in when they aren’t nailing a feeding technique, correcting their outfit selection—all are ways you’re being a gatekeeper and letting your frustration build.

The goods news is that declaring a truce is simple. The next time you’re ready to rage at your husband, ask yourself: Will harm come to my baby if he does the diaper change his own way? Or is his swaddle technique actually putting anybody in danger? If the answer is no, let him learn and figure things out on his own.

Is my way better? Probably. But if the diaper gets changed, and I get to stay in bed for the whole thing, I’ve kind of already won.

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...