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Figuring out all the new relationships and roles when a new baby arrives can be very challenging. Most new parents are surprised by what they learn about themselves and their partners when a baby comes.
Both partners bring their own ideas from childhood about what mothers and fathers should do. Most couples have some differences in their expectations, and most of us also hold conflicting beliefs within ourselves. Part of you may want your partner to participate fully, but another part of you believes that mothers should really be the primary parent. Some of us fear that if the other parent builds a strong relationship with baby, that we won't be as important anymore. Part of you may want to be fully involved in my baby's life, but another part thinks that your work should be your major focus. Many of us really, really want our partners to help, but we resist giving up absolute control in how our baby is cared for. Sorting all of this out in the midst of the fatigue, excitement and confusion of new parenthood is no easy task.
1. Support Your Partner's Competence
There are many reasons that parents may be wary of caring for a newborn. Newborns can be scary. They seem fragile and unknown, and if you haven't had much experience with babies, you can feel clueless. It takes time, observation, support and practice to learn how to care for a newborn. Your partner may need the support of classes, encouragement, other parents and time and practice to get up to speed in caring for his baby. Many new fathers of breastfed babies feel "out of the loop." Some families have success with dad feeding baby expressed milk, but even if dad doesn't feed baby for the first six months of life, there is lots of intimate caregiving to do. Giving baths, changing diapers, holding, rocking, comforting are all wonderfully nurturing tasks available to both parents.