You have had 9 months to start getting to know your baby and coming to terms with the situation. But for many dads, mums and partners, it is not until they hold their baby in their arms that the reality finally kicks in. And for some, they will feel an instantaneous connection. For others, they may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to process those feelings. Both are perfectly normal but there are ways to help your partner with the process.
Here are some ways to help your partner and your baby bond:
Skin-to-skin contact is just as important for dads or partners as it is for the mums in establishing a bond and connection. It’s even been proven that it can raise dopamine and oxytocin levels, and decrease cortisol (stress and anxiety) levels.
Get them involved
It can be so easy to take over and do everything as a mum, and this can leave your partner feeling useless and disconnected. Get them involved in as much as you can, from nappy changes to feeds to baths and story and playtime.
Help boost their confidence
Dads or partners might get things wrong from time to time or do things differently from how you would do them – and that’s ok. As the primary caregiver you are likely to have a certain way you like doing things, but make sure you don’t make them feel bad when it doesn’t go according to your plan. Encourage their willingness to get involved, and explain why you do certain things in certain ways (e.g. why they have to go to bed at a certain time to avoid being overtired). Who knows, you might even learn something from them!
Encourage them to play and sing to the baby
Encourage your partner to get down on the floor and interact with the baby as much as possible, even when they are tiny and won’t give much back. Getting in their little faces and making eye contact and singing songs or making funny sounds is so important to help nurture that bond as well as the baby’s development.
Get them reading
Reading is a great way for a dad or a partner to bond and interact with the baby, and starting this early is a healthy habit to get into – even if you think the baby can’t understand, they are taking everything in.
Having carried your baby in utero for 9 months, before birthing them – and possibly even breastfeeding them, you have a definite leg up in bonding with your baby. Therefore, it can help your partner also feel connected to the baby if you encourage them to take the opportunity to step in when possible. This may require you gently stepping back at times, and will ultimately lead to a healthy bond between them and baby – and a more balanced family dynamic.