A new baby is a wonderful and life-changing bundle of joy. But while it is important to ensure that you are comfortable looking after your new baby and that your emotions and feelings are alright, you need to ensure that your partner is also doing ok. This is a monumental time of change, going from a relationship of two to a family of three. While you might be excitedly handling things, your partner could be going through emotions and feelings at a different pace to you with a different outlook. Knowing how to deal with this difference of emotion and opinion is vital for relationship longevity.
As they have carried a baby for nine months, some mothers may feel as though they know their child intimately as they have in affect created them. If they are breast feeding, they will also feel as though they have a close relationship from day one with the hours spent nestled up and feeding.
Sometimes as a dad it can be hard to compete with this, (even though you know that rationally there is NO COMPETITION!!!) While you might want to provide for your baby right now, you are needed in a completely different way. A way to share in this bonding moment could be to try to keep the baby awake when they are having a full feed or get your partner to express their milk which would allow you to share in the feeding experience. If you are bottle-feeding, then this is a role that you can join in with. It might be good if you take one of the night shifts, which would allow you a quiet moment with your little one and give your partner some shut-eye!
A lot of couples may feel a little jealous after the birth of a new baby. You might wonder why you are feeling this way, and feel a bit guilty and defensive about this.
It’s all alright and perfectly normal, as the attention that you used to solely give to your partner is now divided and there is little time for the two of you to share together. While you might feel that rationally you shouldn’t be jealous, that isn’t going to easily make the emotions go away. You and your partner might not understand how best to deal with this situation creating arguments and tension in your relationship.
One of the best ways to deal with this is talking about the matter. If you and your partner acknowledge how you both feel now that there is less time to share together, then it will help you take the steps needed to create time for each other around the baby.
Handling a baby
As a dad, you might not have had the same exposure to handling babies or being around children. Little girls are often given baby dolls to play with and have been told they will be the main caregiver; though there are plenty of mums who do not feel confident looking after a baby. Don’t beat yourself up thinking that the two of you should know how to handle looking after this tiny new life!
If one of you is lacking confidence, working together as a team can help. Letting the confident one take over, in the long run, won’t help your relationship; as if you are a whizz at putting them to bed, don’t make your partner feel unneeded. Your baby will do just as well if it takes a little longer to put them to sleep, and let your partner take the reigns and encourage them!
Back at work
As a dad, you might only get a short amount of paternal leave, if that. You might struggle being away from your partner and your new baby. But then again, being at home alone with a little baby is monumentally hard work, and that can also cause relationship issues.
While I spoke about jealousy before, this can also cause jealousy as you might resent the time that your partner has with the baby, whilst she resents you for going back to work. While both of you will understand that this is irrational, it can be frustrating if this isn’t communicated clearly.
While everyone’s situation with childcare is different, it is important to see the situation from your partners point of view and discuss their emotions. You both probably are sharing similar frustrations. Don’t think about how you should be feeling, but stick with the reality of the situation and how you can both work to resolve any issues.
Support networks can be a vital lifeline when it comes to being a new parent. While traditionally mums might have gone to more parent and children groups, this is something that we at Dadsnet felt needed to change. It can be a challenging time, and some dads feel that they can’t talk to their friends about rational fears and anxieties with new babies.
This is a completely new situation that the two of you are in. There are parts of your life that you will never see again (your sex life will come back I promise!) but there are fun additions to your new one to look forward to. Sometimes it can be hard to let go of your old life and the new responsibilities that you have, but this is what we are here for.
If you haven’t already joined one of our Dad Communities, I would highly recommend it! They are there for you whenever you need it, and as they also have kids, they know what you are going through! Making sure that you have someone in your corner is just what you need for one of the toughest but most rewarding jobs out there!