Bringing a new baby home can be tough for partners as well as mums. They can feel a little superfluous in the first few weeks because of breastfeeding, when baby needs mum a lot of the time. With many partners returning to work after a couple of weeks, they can feel pushed aside or not really invested in raising their own baby. For mums, this can mean that the burden of parenting falls mainly to them, which means both parents can end up feeling out of sorts: dad, because he’s seemingly not needed, and mum, because she’s not getting the help she needs.
This can all make the first few weeks of parenting much harder. Rest assured it’s completely normal for couples to have some trouble adjusting to their new circumstances. After all, now you come as a family of three, you have lots more dynamics to deal with.
If your partner seems to be shying away from getting involved with parenting, there are lots of ways you can help get them back on board.
1. Talk about it
First up, bring it up in conversation. Ask your partner if there’s anything going on for him and how he’s feeling since the baby arrived. You can also explore how he’s doing after the birth, as many partners can feel traumatised, just as females can during the birth. Giving him the space to talk about whatever’s on his mind will help both of you work towards solutions, although often the simple act of talking things through and validating what each other is saying can make a world of difference.
2. Share the workload
If you’re breastfeeding, then feeding the baby is your job. But there’s a lots of ways your partner can get involved in baby care too, and spending time with the baby will help him feel connected and bonded to bub as well. Some partners can lack confidence in handling a newborn, so go slow at first as he eases into it. Start with some cuddle time, explaining to your partner how great physical contact is for the development of baby’s brain. Work up to getting your partner involved in baby’s bath time, and this could end up becoming a daily ritual for the two of them.
3. Acknowledge the growing bond
If your partner doubts his parenting prowess, as so many of us start out doing, then be sure to tell him how you see baby enjoying his time with dad. Without being patronising of course, point out how happy baby is in dad’s arms, or how your newborn’s eyes follow your partner around, clearly demonstrating the beginnings of an important relationship between the two of them. Other things that can enhance the bond between dad and baby include baby massage, singing, baby wearing and settling baby to sleep.
4. Spend time together
Your partner may simply miss being with you and the way you used to be together before baby arrived. Although you won’t have blocks of time like you used to, try to enjoy a few minutes of focused time together each day, such as over a cup of tea in the morning or on the couch in the evening. You could also make sure he feels involved while he’s at work by sending him pictures of you and bub, and speaking to each other throughout the day. This will help the two of you stay connected on an emotional basis which should reassure him.
5. Get some outside help
If you’re having trouble getting through to your partner and feel that things have changed between you both since baby’s arrival, there are specialist counselling services that can help. Many couples benefit from getting some outside assistance to help them work through big changes in their lives, and having a baby is one of them. With some time, and plenty of talking things through, there’s a good chance you can get through this.