Little girls start dreaming about and (unconsciously) preparing for a baby from a very young age. If you observe a little girl playing with her doll this can be clearly seen. By the time that you fall pregnant, you are ready to go! The same may not be true for your partner, who can easily feel left out. Read more on how to involve your partner in the process of pregnancy, birth and parenting.
- The left-out partner
This phenomenon is as sad as it sounds. And yet it is fairly common. Although it takes two people to make a baby, only one of them fall pregnant and go through all the physical changes. Your partner provides support during the birth, but your body is doing all the work. It is easy for a mom to get carried away and forget that her partner may feel like there is not much that he can do, and that he may just as well stay out of it. Here are some tips to help your partner get involved from the very beginning.
- Start by involving your partner in the pregnancy
Allow your partner to go accompany you to your antenatal appointments. Let them speak to the baby and feel kicks and movements. Allow them to choose objects like a cot, a pram and a baby monitor. Make sure that they know how crucially important they are to the process of your birth and equip them to help you by attending an antenatal birth preparation workshop.
- When the baby is born you should encourage bonding activities
Encourage him to do skin-to-skin care. Ask him hold baby while you nap or eat something. Allow him to help with practical things like bathing baby, changing nappies and burping baby.
- Give them specific tasks that they own
Perhaps bathing the baby every day can be their task. It’s easier for them to get their heads around “owning” an activity rather than “helping” with baby. In this way they have also have special time together and can bond. By involving your partner in your set routine, you will also make your own life easier.
- Do not micromanage
This is perhaps the biggest mistake that new mothers make in this regard. Trust your partner and allow them the space to find their way around the baby.
Bear in mind that your partner’s parenting style will likely differ from yours. Give them the space they need to figure it out. Don’t be controlling about small matters. They WILL cope.
- When you do offer suggestions, be respectful and specific:
Provide positive ideas of what they could do as opposed to what they should not do. Try not to be demanding or critical because gentle encouragement will make all the difference in the attitudes of both parties.
- Ask for and honor your partner’s opinion on raising the baby
Listen to their suggestions and try to understand where they are coming from. Respect and trust them in their role as parent. You should involve them not only in small parenting tasks, but also in bigger decisions about the way you want to raise that baby.
Remember that both of you are adjusting to a massive change in your lives. This does not happen overnight. Sometimes some space and gentle encouragement is needed. While most couples look forward to having a baby, they underestimate the strain that this will place on their relationship. This really is a time to tread carefully, and to safeguard your relationship.
Do make a point to have regular alone time with your partner. This is important for your relationship with each other. It also provides time and space to communicate about problems that you may be experiencing. If one does this from early on it will make your journey as co-parents a lot easier.