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You’ve spent nine months carrying your little one and went through the physical toll of pushing this living human out of your body. Well done mama!
While your partner may have been with you through the process, maybe rubbing your feet, making that weird pineapple, tomato, and sausage smoothie you wanted, or holding your hand through delivery, they haven’t been through what you’ve been through. That can be hard on both parties.
You’re both probably feeling a whole lot of emotions from excited about this new bundle of joy in your life to terrified of the amount of change you’re experiencing with caring for your newborn. The key to getting through this newborn phase is communication. You two are in this whole parenting thing together and from here on out, you can make it about as 50/50 as you want it to be. While the pushing may have been on you, you aren’t on your own for the rest of it mama — take advantage of that!
In fact, getting your partner involved in caring for your newborn (or during pregnancy) can be a great way to start your parenting journey on the right foot. It can improve your partner’s bond with the baby, lower stress and anxiety knowing neither of you are doing this alone, and keep your relationship healthy and happy.
If you’re not sure where to start with getting dad (or second mom) involved in these early stages of parenthood, this post is for you. We’ll go over tips and ideas for including your partner during this challenging and exciting time.
For starters, if you’re still pregnant and starting to think about how to get your other half involved when the little one comes, you don’t have to wait! They can help and be a part of the child’s life right now.
Here’s some ideas to share that baby-mindset together.
Those doctor appointments are more than just a standard check-up. It’s seeing your baby develop — hearing the first heartbeat, learning how to prepare your body, and dealing with any potential health issues that come up with the pregnancy.
Having your partner there to hold your hand, take notes, and show interest in the pregnancy can help take the responsibility off your back to remember everything. Plus, that first ultrasound is definitely one to remember!
Along with the practical benefits of your partner coming to appointments with you, it can also help show you that they’re just as committed to this baby as you are. Sometimes parenting requires taking time off work and there’s no time like the present to learn this!
Remember parenting with another person is a partnership. That means making decisions together! While you may not always agree on things, it’s important to be able to talk about them, see each other’s perspectives, find compromise, and figure out how to still make those decisions together.
Getting your partner’s opinions on things can help them feel more involved and it can take some of the mental stress off you. When it comes to baby prep, there are SO MANY different decisions you have to make. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if it feels a little overwhelming! But that’s where talking through some of those decisions and sharing the decision-making research and responsibility can make a difference.
To get you started, here are some examples of different decisions you can talk about:
There’s a good chance your doctor has told you to stay active, right? Do some yoga; go for a walk; go swimming; continue your normal exercise routine (to an extent). You can invite your partner into that!
Hey, they could probably use a good workout too. Exercising isn’t just good for your physical body, it’s also good for your mental health to get those happy endorphins pumping. As you get further into your pregnancy, have your partner help you safely exercise or attend an exercise class together that can make accommodations for pregnancy.
If you’ve been reading up about all things pregnancy, first-time mom books, and learning about how to be a first-time parent, invite your partner into those learning sessions! Read books together. Take turns learning different things about taking care of a newborn and teach them to each other.
Sometimes, it means sitting your man-child down and telling it like it is — they need to step up. Sometimes, it just means getting excited for what’s to come and talking through nerves or different potential scenarios together.
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After childbirth, you’re going to need help. You just successfully completed the miracle of life, mama! Give yourself space to recover and not do everything. Yes, you have a baby who needs you seemingly 24/7, but you’re not alone and bringing your partner into the support system can benefit both of you.
Sometimes all that you and your partner need to be able to take turns with baby care is a set schedule. Designate certain times where each of you get time to yourself while the other one looks after the baby.
This can be important to ensure you both have a chance to take the responsibility, but it can also help you let go of some of that responsibility and give your partner the chance to step up. We know you’re a supermom, but maybe you have a co-superhuman by your side and you’ll never know if you don’t give them a chance!
The key thing here though is you have to be clear about when those times are so you can both prepare accordingly either to relax or go into baby care mode.
Another part about designated on and off time can include whether your other half can also get parental leave from work. These days, many companies offer paid paternity leave for new dads, so if that’s an option for you, it’s worth researching and taking that time for them to be with your new family member.
You may be the one with the breastmilk, but feeding time can be for both parents. This unique time is one of those special bonding experiences between baby and parent. If you’re pumping as well as breastfeeding, exclusively pumping, or using formula your partner can also do some of the feedings with a bottle — and we highly encourage it!
Take turns for who feeds (especially during those nighttime feedings!) where possible.
If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, dad taking over is a little more challenging, but he can still help with getting ready, helping you find a comfortable position, or help with any cleanup after.
We can’t stress this one enough — you are not alone in this mama! We know you can handle it, but you don’t have to do it all on your own. It’s okay, in fact, it’s great to ask for help!
Ask for the help you need. No request is too small here! It can be household chores, diaper changes, groceries, deciding what’s for dinner, refilling your water bottle, or just bringing you some ibuprofen or an extra blanket.
Asking for even those little things (and having your partner help without complaint) can help you feel like you are in a partnership. Plus, if your partner seems to be at a loss for how to help at first, it can give them some direction.
It’s important for the baby and father to have their own special connection. Sure, maybe dad sang to your belly or felt the baby kick sometimes, but it’s nowhere near the connection you’ve developed over the past 9 months.
You might have a head start, but now’s the time where your partner can start catching up and developing that bond. Just remember — your partner may not always do things exactly as you do. And that’s okay.
If you’re both new parents, your partner’s new at this too and they’re going to find their own strategies for what works with your newborn. Give yourself permission to let go of the control during those times and let your partner learn. You’re both bringing different assets into this new baby’s life and both sides of that are valuable.
Encourage your partner to try different bonding and attachment exercises with your newborn. There are many options on the table (and all of them can help you now and your baby in the future), but here are a few ideas:
Above all with getting your partner involved with your newborn, remember it’s a partnership. You’re in this together and you share a common goal of raising this little one to be healthy and happy.
Remember that communication is key through pregnancy, the newborn stage, and as your child grows. What might work for someone else’s relationship might not be the right solution for yours, so it’s always important to talk things over with your partner.
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