Sharing Parenting With My Partner
Editor’s Note: No two families look the same. The structure of each family is different. In the following blog post, each person speaks from their own experience. Take what might work in your family and leave the rest!
We also recognize that not every family has a partner at home to readily provide support throughout the day and night. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (p. 33, 2010) discusses possible avenues of help other than paid support:
“There are no-cost possibilities, too – enlisting friends to help with meals, entertaining your older children, and conversation when you need it. You may have friends or family eager to help out who just need some suggestions on what to do.”
It’s been such a long day. You are exhausted and want just 15 minutes to soak in a hot bath and have a few moments of quiet. But within minutes of shutting the bathroom door, you hear your partner calling from the other side that your seven-month-old is unhappy and needs you.
If you are breastfeeding, you’ve probably experienced a similar situation. It’s no secret that nursing can be the cure all for a variety of moods your baby faces: hungry, cranky, tired, sad, bored. However, does that mean you always have to be the go-to parent and meet those needs, while the hot water in your bath slowly becomes lukewarm?
Recently, Monika M. asked, “I’m feeling worn out by what I feel is an unequal parenting burden right now. My husband tends to hand the baby (7 months) back to me at the slightest whimper. What are some other strategies he can try besides just saying, ‘he seems hungry.’ Any tips?”
Our readers were full of helpful and practical ideas for encouraging your partner to meet the baby’s needs (most of the time), even if they aren’t convinced they can do it.
Some of the most common suggestions included movement and change of scenery. In other words, find something to distract baby so they aren’t as focused on the person they would expect to see.
A disclaimer: The attachment between baby and breastfeeding parent is strong. We would never encourage you to separate from baby or to separate your baby from you when there is a real need for the two of you to be together. However, we recognize that sometimes you do feel worn out and need some time to recharge.
That being said, it often takes a bit of time, patience, and trial and error for baby and the non-nursing parent to figure out how to read cues and form their bond. Encouragement and support go a long way, whether you are trying to take a few minutes for yourself or trying to give someone a few minutes of “me” time.
Read on for a sample of responses from our readers. To see the original post, go to www.facebook.com/LaLecheLeagueUSA/posts/3968416689853514.
“Yes he can. Maybe not every single time, but even once a week is a win. (Especially for mama.) Keep empowering and encouraging your husband. Don’t let him stop trying.” – Valerie Van. G.
“Colic hold. Drape the baby along his arm on their belly.” – Angela W.
“If you know you just fed the baby, leave them alone together. He’ll figure it out. Learning how to comfort a baby that isn’t hungry is part of the job of parenting and the thing that works best is going to be unique to every child.” – Luna S.
“Hand baby back to him and say, ‘He’s not (hungry); he just ate. Can you please (walk with him, rock him, talk to him, sing to him, change him…whatever you think will help) for a bit? I’m tired and need a break.’” – Melissa P.
“When a baby is only comforted by nursing it does become heavier on mom. If that’s the case, your husband can change diapers, bathe, clip nails, and all the other things besides nursing. Seven months was a difficult age for us, too, but it will pass!” – Ana P.
“Sing to baby.” – Brittany B.
“I nursed and changed baby and handed her off. When he returned five minutes later trying to pass her back, I stood my ground. I taught him to wear the baby. Whenever she would get fussy with him, he’d walk. He’d walk around the house and when it was nice weather, they’d walk in the neighborhood. There were times when she started walking that she’d nurse to get sleepy and then want daddy to walk her to sleep. She’s now four years old and loves her walks with daddy. She will ask for her daddy to take her on a walk almost every day.” – Samantha V.
“I made sure he knew the baby cried with me sometimes and (nursing him) isn’t always the answer. What he found out worked was humming a song at a really low vibrating tone. He can hum lower than me and our boys would always calm down and eventually fall asleep on him. It was his most useful baby-soothing tool.” – Randee K.
“Learning to look for hunger cues helped my husband a lot. It took him a while to learn what to look for and gain some confidence. Baby wearing a just changed and just fed baby to do simple things like going to check the mail was a huge confidence boost and gave him those good oxytocin-inducing sleepy snuggles.” – Courtney S.
“Books. At seven months old they love books. Sit back in a comfortable chair. Have him sit on the floor with a ball rolling back and fourth. Stacking blocks. Change baby’s mind from fussing. But some babies do just want mum. Having dad sit while mum nurses the baby helps for the baby to want dad. He’ll crawl over to dad. Have the books ready. And mum can go to another room.” – Chris D.
What About Partners? from the Tear-sheet toolkit from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding: www.llli.org/resources/womanly-art-breastfeeding/ – Tear
Please send your story ideas to Amy at [email protected].
Supporting Breastfeeding Families–Today, Tomorrow, Always
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