Focus on Fathers: Co-parenting from the start

shutterstock_116290171By Jennifer Pitkin

I’d like to focus on the importance of co-parenting from the start. When my husband and I found out that we are expecting our third child, the first thing my husband said was, “I’m so happy to do this again with you.”

Things are off to a great start. As with both pregnancies beforehand, I have concerns: first trimester worries, thinking about the future as a family of five, delivery, feeding the new baby, etc. I’m comforted in knowing that I’m not doing it alone.

There are a variety of ways that the partner can be involved in the pregnancy. The following ideas also show why the words my husband said to me—“I’m so happy to do this again with you.”—are so important and meaningful.

  1. Be very patient. Pregnancy is a whirlwind of emotions, fears, stresses, and joys. Sit back, listen, and affirm the myriad of feelings going on!
  2. Ask yourself how you can help keep the expectant mother comfortable. Sometimes this means offering her the couch pillow that you’re lying on, sometimes this means running to a local grocery or convenience store for ginger ale and soda crackers.
  3. Tell her that you are proud of her. It doesn’t get old.
  4. Get involved in the pregnancy. Find out and talk about what neat things are going on each week of the pregnancy (even if this isn’t your first child).
  5. Talk about breastfeeding while the expectant mother is pregnant. You can be involved. Read up on ways to get things off to a good start. A simple suggestion is to add the numbers for local La Leche League Leaders to your cell phone.
  6. Attend a breastfeeding support group with your partner and/or start one.
  7. Help write a birth plan. This doesn’t have to be cut and dry. So many things can’t be anticipated for the way a delivery can go. Do you want to be the one to say the baby’s gender first? Write it down. Do you want the baby’s umbilical cord clamping delayed? Write it down. Is it important to you to have skin-to-skin contact as soon as physically possible? Absolutely write this down.
  8. Hang out with families that have new little ones. See how parents, their babies, and siblings interact with each other. A perk of this: you might be able to observe and be a support to normalize nursing in public. Babies do need to eat when their mothers are on the go.
  9. Test out baby carriers while your partner is pregnant. Know that this is an amazing way to bond with the new baby while the mother gets some rest. You and the mother can share it, too, when the baby arrives.
  10. Congratulate yourself for helping from the beginning. Your input, support, and encouragement are essential. You will be an amazing partner!

shutterstock_116290981According to La Leche League League, “Breastfeeding is enhanced and the nursing couple sustained by the loving support, help, and companionship of the baby’s father. A father’s unique relationship with his baby is an important element in the child’s development from early infancy.” It’s a great thing that a father/partner can start his relationship well before early infancy. Baby is growing and will be here soon. Now is the time to get involved!

Focus on Fathers is edited by Jennifer Pitkin, a La Leche League Leader in northeast Iowa. Jennifer and her husband, Matthew, have two children. Jennifer is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in private practice and has a particular interest in advocacy for nursing in public. Please send your submission to [email protected]