Parents’ Best Chance
Being a Supportive Parenting Partner
Today, partners are taking an active role, not only in child care but during pregnancy as well. Whatever you are feeling – fear, excitement or panic – other people have felt the same thing. Parenthood is a new and exciting state in your life.
Here are a few things new fathers have reported:
- My partner is so involved with the baby that there is no time for us.
- I don’t have friends who are parents. None of my old friends understand what I’m going through.
- I’m scared of the baby. What if I drop her? My partner is much more at ease with changing, bathing, handling, and playing with our baby than I am.
- How will I be able to protect and provide for my new family?
- I used to feel immortal. Now I have to be here to look after my family. I had never thought about life insurance before.
- I’m afraid of being replaced by the baby. My partner loves the baby so much and only seems to let me be involved when she says it’s OK.
- This is a whole new role for me. I’m not sure I like having to do more chores around the house. I want my partner and my old life back.
- I’m so tired. Getting a whole night’s sleep is all I want right now.
- How can someone like me be a good Dad? I don’t know what I’m doing.
Here are some supportive things parenting partners can do:
- Talk with your partner as often as possible about your feelings, what you need, and how you can best be involved in caring for your baby.
- Support your partner while she is breastfeeding. Bring her a glass of water or milk. Ask her if she needs a pillow.
- Don’t worry about being scared of the baby. You are not alone with this feeling. Always think safety first. Ask yourself what is the safest thing to do here? By handling your baby, you will become more comfortable. You probably didn’t feel comfortable the first time you drove a car either.
- Put your baby on your chest and spend time together. Children need closeness with both parents.
- Change your baby’s diaper, give him or her a bath, dress, sing, dance, or just cuddle your baby. Always wash your hands first.
- Play with your baby as often as possible. It’s OK to choose toys you like to play with too.
- Remember not to leave your baby alone even for a second on a change table, counter, chair, or couch, or in the bath.
- Don’t leave your baby alone with your pet.
- Get enough sleep, be physically active, go for walks as a family, and eat healthy foods.
- Listen to other parents. They have been through this.
- Get involved with other parents – from your prenatal classes, work, or from a new parenting class.
- Remember – all parents make mistakes.
- Enjoy each phase of being a parent. It won’t come around again with this child.
- Plan to have time for activities other than parenting. Do tag team parenting – let one parent be “off” sometimes.
- Talk with your partner about the best method of birth control for both of you.
- Don’t expect your partner to be her old self in a week or two – recovery from birth takes time.