“How is the mind-reading going?” This was the first question my midwife asked me when I went in for my six-week check up. She understood that the first few weeks at home with a new baby can be frustrating, wanting your partner to help as much as possible, but hoping they will offer the help without us having to ask for it.
But the reality is, when we need help, it’s important to ask for it. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and to need help. Don’t push off these feelings, hoping that eventually your partner will jump in and lend a hand. There’s a good chance your partner wants to help but doesn’t know how to, or feels nervous about doing something wrong. Open communication is incredibly important. Let your partner know how you’re feeling, share how they can help, and don’t expect them to read your mind (if only they could!).
If you are trying to get your partner to help more with the baby, here are three simple ways to get them more involved.
Make Them the Master of a Task
As mothers, it can be easy to take on every baby-related task. Instead of putting all that weight on your own shoulders, assign specific tasks to your partner and allow them to become the expert. Think things like swaddling, diaper changing, or calming a fussy baby. If they don’t know what to do to soothe a fussy baby, have them read Harvey Karp, M.D.’s The Happiest Baby on the Block. While in the hospital, my husband became an expert swaddler, learning from our nurses. When we returned home, he was the master swaddler, taking on all swaddling-related needs. Being the best at a task can empower your partner and make them feel useful.
Explain That This Is Also New to You
I fully believe that a mother’s intuition is a real thing. When we bring a newborn baby home from the hospital, we have no idea what we’re doing, but we somehow figure it out. Even though our partners may not have birthed the baby, they can also figure it out. Partners can sometimes feel like they aren’t equipped to care for the baby as well as the mother can. Whether you feel confident or unsure in your new role as mom, explain that you also are figuring things out as you go. It might look like you can handle it all, but you can’t, and this is all new territory for you as well. If your partner feels nervous, share that you are too, and you can better navigate parenting together.
Leave the House (Or the Room)
Give your partner alone time with the baby so they can bond, and also so your partner can figure things out without you looking over their shoulder. It can seem easier to do things on your own rather than delegate and explain how to do everything. But by leaving the house or the room, your partner has an opportunity to be fully in charge and will be forced to figure things out in their own way. Trust your partner and know that they will be fine without you for a bit of time. If this makes you nervous, start small and leave the room, if only for 10 minutes. Work your way up from there.
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