Words by Shereen Jupp
Photographed by Shannon Griffin
It is normal for mothers to feel obligated to supervise all aspects of childbearing. This feeling is very natural, since we carry, birth and nourish our babies. Therefore we feel the need to control the access involvement from others even our partners. However, doing this can decrease the chances of your partner feeling involved and avoid baby-partner interactions. It’s important that we try to offer our new baby to our partners or you will drive yourself into a deeper exhausted state and potentially even PPD. I am a firm believe that “me time” is vital for both parents so sharing roles is extremely important for you to have the space you deserve without guilt.
Becoming parents is a life change. Both parents need to work together as a team and communicate about parenting strategies. Below you will find a list of suggestions to help your partner bond with baby.
Skin-to-skin or Cuddles
For mothers that are breastfeeding after the feed suggest your partner if near by to do skin-to-skin or cuddles close to the chest. This gives you the opportunity to use the restroom, freshen up, get water etc. If you are bottle feeding do not feel guilty by having your partner bottle-feed baby this allows your little one to gaze at your partner and feel secure with them.
This is important and highly recommended. I believe it’s fair that both partners take turn during night shifts. Meaning I suggest that if you are breastfeeding to pump and leave bottles in the fridge. You deserve to sleep and so does your partner take turns during the night for a happier day.
I am a true believer in baby wearing.
I know not all babies like carriers or slings so if your little one is anti-baby wearing replace this concept with stroller. But, I do suggest your partners spending one on one time with the little one. Going out to the grocery store, for a walk, or to grab coffee/ breakfast. This bonding time is special and makes them feel safe. The fresh air is incredible for your little one. The reason I love baby wearing is it offers that extra closeness and I found it easier to do mundane tasks or errands. I know you may feel that territorial instinct when your little one is outdoors without you. You may not even know what to do in that spare time but look at this as an opportunity to get projects done or simply relax.
Diaper Duty/ Household Work
It’s simple. You take turns when you can. This needs no explaining.
It’s only fair for both parents to take part in the not so fun side of parenthood. If it’s not equal then a lot of tension can build up. I recommend sitting down with your partner and organizing a schedule that make both of you happy.
Be a Part of the Bedtime Routine
A consistent bedtime schedule is very important to helping your baby sleep through the night. This can compliment the schedule you and your partner map out on shared duties. For example: taking turns during bathtime or for older children taking turns reading a bedtime story. This offers a break again for you and also creates the bond with the partner.
From these suggestions I hope you can experiment with what works for you and your family unit. The more you can communicate what you need and how your partner can help, the better. It’s really hard to give up our control and even to see how we can include our partners during those days that feel like they’re all about mom and baby. But I highly recommend it for your health. It’s also empowering for your partner to feel needed for the child. Your goal from this is to create a co-parent relationship with your partner.
And let go of your guilt. Asking for help from anyone, even your co-parent, can bring on the feelings of failure and shame. Don’t let those emotions sneak in. It’s normal to need space and help.