However we live in a realistic world where reality sometimes does not match our expectations. It is only when a mother finds herself being challenged by the difficulties, that help is needed to negotiate the difficulties…
So, if being able to miss a night feed is not possible, let’s take a look at how partners can get involved in helping mums through those early weeks.
I always maintain that it is a good idea for partners to take at least the 2 weeks of parental leave so that they can be there to help as you all settle into life with a new baby. If there is some annual leave available, then extra time off can be very useful as 2 weeks is often not enough. Hospitals are not great places for getting sleep, so mums often come home totally sleep deprived! Catching up on sleep is vitally important so taking naps in the day while Dad cuddles the baby between feeds is an absolute given.
The common mistake I see though is that of both parents getting up every night at each feed to tend to the baby. It can be a very confusing bringing a new baby home and it is not unusual to have some nights where both parents are scratching their heads trying to figure out what the best things is to do.
Once things begin to settle down though it is better to play a bit of tag.
In the early weeks with a newborn, doing a breastfeed may take a while but settling the baby may be what takes the most time. One way to get a bit more sleep at night is for your partner to get up after one of the breastfeeds to settle the baby while you go back to bed. Then at another feed you can stay up and do the breastfeed and settling while your partner gets some shuteye.
The parent who is “off duty” can use ear plugs when it is their turn to sleep to block out some of the noise. Although, most guys somehow seem to have been fitted with selective hearing and tend to sleep through the noises a baby makes. Okay, I am generalizing, but it seems to be true in most cases!! While your partner is on paternity leave, take turns to catch up on sleep during the day to make up for some time spent awake at night.
Once your partner is back at work though, the expectation of help during the night needs to change as they will need a full night’s sleep in order to cope with a full day at work. Taking care of a baby is a full-time job and because of the intensity of looking after every aspect of your little baby’s life, it is very common for mums to feel touched out by the end of the day and in desperate need of some time out.
his is where it is very helpful for the working partner to be ready to receive a squawking bundle the minute they walk through the door! Yes, you have had a busy day at work no doubt but being prepared to take over some baby duties can be a real game changer for a very tired mum. This may allow her to have a shower or even go to the toilet in peace! Believe me when I say that having a short break away from needing to be responsible for the baby can help most mums feel recharged and ready to take on a new day.
Get stuck in and bath the baby while mum sorts out dinner or throws on a load of washing. Evening baths with Dad can be such fun and it helps to grow the bond between fathers and their babies. It can help to grow a dad’s confidence too when left alone to figure out what the baby prefers. Yeah, it’s scary of course, but as baby grows and begins to enjoy splashy fun in the bath, you begin to look forward to your special time with your baby. Plus evening baths before bedtime help to prepare a baby for going to sleep more easily.
There are some families though where mum is not the best cook so you might need to negotiate a different solution if this is the case for your family. This may mean that dad is the one who comes home and tends to dinner. Even if this is the case, mum taking some time away from the baby each day will still need to be negotiated. This may involve other members of the family who come around during the day to take over some baby duties while she has some time off for a shower or a nap.Dad still needs to spend some time alone with the baby so talk through when the best time is for this to happen. For your family it may work best for Dad to get up and take bub for an early morning walk or a cuddle to allow mum to sleep in a bit longer.
For many reasons it is very important for Dad to get involved in taking care of the baby. Not only for the sake of giving mum a chance to have some time away from the baby but also to allow a strong bond to develop between fathers and their babies. There is always give and take from both sides when creating a family where babies are happy to be around each parent.
Do you have breastfeeding concerns? Click here to see how Wendy can help you