How your partner can help
You’re learning every day, and so is your partner. Here are some ways you can encourage participation and help.
Partner on board
You’ve given birth! And now you and your partner are parents. But it can be hard for partners of new mums to know what to do and how to help. It’s common for them to feel a bit … well … useless. Everyone knows what mums are meant to do. What about partners?
As many as 10 per cent of partners in Australia get postnatal depression (their lives and relationships are in upheaval too) and many more focus on work as a way to cope. This can leave new mums doing the hard yards alone. One way to counter this is to engage a new dad or partner early on, encouraging them to take an active and meaningful role in parenting.
(Hey, you! Are you a partner of a new mum?)
If you’re reading this and are a partner to a new mum, you’re already one step on the road to forming better relationships with your new little baby and your partner. Nice one. Keep reading…
5 tips for getting partners involved
1. Weekend morning adventures
Saturday morning; 7am. A great time for you to snooze while your partner heads out on a little adventure with your baby. Mention the bonding benefits, the coffee and your gratitude and it might be a tradition that sticks. They could even help with the groceries while they’re at it.
2. Meals and household jobs
Speaking of groceries, let your partner know that he or she is welcome to prepare a few meals. If they are not exactly chef material, spag bol is a good start. Be encouraging and forgiving; this is new to both of you. Maybe explore some easy online recipes together. Cooking for grown-ups and preparing meals for bub are both in your partner’s skill set, so unleash it.
3. Evening is partner time
There are enormous bonding benefits if your partner can spend one-on-one time with your little one, and here’s a way to make it work for everyone. Have your partner take baby after a breast feed to do a bath and story time. If needed, finish with one last top up breast feed before putting baby down. For some mums they may also express the occasional feed and have their partner give this to baby. It helps your partner and little one bond and – bonus – you get to go to bed early and get a bit more rest!
4. Your relationship
You have a new and very special addition to your life, but you also need to work on your other special relationships. With a new baby, there’s no hurry back to sex, but keep your partner up to speed. Don’t be alarmed if your midwife or doctor asks; it’s common for them to check if everything down there is comfortable after baby. Let your partner know how you’re feeling, rather than letting them keep guessing and trying … When bub’s asleep, make time to watch TV, cook together, or even just talk about the day.
5. Ask for what you need
It’s a partner classic: “I’m not a mind reader.” Now, more than ever, this is true. Emotions are new and running high. Talk. Let your partner know what you need: more emotional support and encouragement; more hands-on help with the day-to-day; or both. Don’t expect your partner to know what you need. Say it out loud.
For more information, read our article How partners can bond with a baby.