The go-to guide for partners during the first year of parenting
Bringing a baby home from the hospital is one of the most significant moments of your life. It’s been 9 months of your partner being pregnant… hours of watching them in labour and giving birth, and well frankly, a baptism by fire for those first few days in the hospital. There’s so much build-up and so much focus on the baby’s arrival – that the reality of bringing the baby home can be a shock to the system for many partners.
In the hospital, you have nurses on call and you’re kind of just running on adrenaline and oxytocin ( the happy hormone that is flowing through your system from the moment you were handed that tiny baby in your arms). You’ve watched your partner become an absolute superhero right before your eyes – you’re in awe of their strength and in love with them that little bit more. But it can also leave you feeling just a bit unsure of the best ways to help out.
So in partnership with H&M we chatted to dad of three, Matt Baseley to help all partners feel important and empowered to bring that baby home, get stuck in and hands-on and form your own beautiful connection with your little one.
If your partner is breastfeeding you might feel like there’s not much you can do to help out. But you’re wrong. You can help make sure she’s prepared with everything she needs – set her up with a little essentials station with a water bottle, snacks, nipple cream, phone charger, footrest, nursing pillow and anything else she might need.
Breastfeeding will make her hungry so keep the healthy snacks coming throughout the day and keep refilling her water bottle as her body needs A LOT of water to help produce milk.
If your baby takes formula then this is great as you can get stuck right into those feeds – and of course, all the cleaning and sterilising that needs to happen.
Tip: Take on night feeds where you can (especially in those early days) so your partner can get the rest she needs for her body to recover. Once you’re back at work, have a conversation about how you can still help out, whether that’s taking the last night feed so she can get to bed early or taking the 5 am feed so she can sleep in. And then helping with more over the weekends. Whatever works for your schedule.
Get involved – and be proactive!
Don’t wait around to be asked to do something – just get stuck in! There is always plenty to be done so roll up your sleeves and get to it. From nappy changes to putting on a load of washing to cleaning bottles and cooking dinner and doing the dishes.
Be the cheerleader
You and your partner are both figuring out this new role together, so remember to stay positive and tell her how amazing she is doing. She will be emotional and may second-guess herself, her parenting and how she looks. Give her compliments, tell her she is an amazing mum and how wonderful she is doing and make sure to tell her she is beautiful.
Connect with your baby
This whole baby thing doesn’t always come naturally to everyone. But that doesn’t make you bad at it, or mean that your baby doesn’t like you. It just takes practice. And babies don’t give you much in the beginning – but don’t let that stop you. Talk to them, right from day 1. Sing to them, read to them, tell them about your day. Spend time cuddling them (skin on skin in those early days) and looking into their eyes. This is where that bond is forming…it’s ok if it takes time, but trust us it will come and eventually it will feel like the most natural thing in the world.
Activities like bath time can be a great time for you to connect with your little one, or find something you love doing and make it a ritual like playing them guitar before they go to bed. This will soon become a ritual they love and a special tradition that will carry on for years to come.
Focus on your mental health
We often tell mums they can’t pour from an empty cup – and the same goes for you. Becoming a dad is a monumental life change and so take the time to focus on your mental health with regular check-ins. How are you coping? Are you enjoying it? What are you struggling with? Talk with your partner about how you are feeling or if you are struggling you might want to talk to a friend or a professional.
Find a dad’s group (or at least one friend with kids you can talk to)
We often talk about how important mum’s groups are, but did you know dad’s or partners groups can be equally as amazing in these early years with kids. If you are lucky enough to have friends with kids then make sure you reach out and connect with them. Otherwise, look and see if there are any local groups in your area or look online. Failing that, head down to the local park with your little one and you’ll surely meet some friends also looking for a caffeine hit and an ear to listen about the allnighter you just had with your little one…
Don’t leave all the parenting stuff up to the mum – or your partner. Get across it. Do the research, read the books and most importantly stay across it. Go to the first aid course with your partner and know how to respond in an emergency.
The reality is you won’t be able to go to every doctor’s appointment or be across every fine detail, but make sure you’re across the big stuff. There will be times you’re alone with the baby and it’s important you know how to properly take care of them, to be able to sub in when your partner can’t be there – know where everything is and be a competent partner and parent.
What’s the key to a healthy relationship both before and after a baby? Communication! But after a baby, it becomes even more important. It can be so easy to run on a hamster wheel when you have a small baby, there is so much going on and so much distraction that your relationship can fall to the bottom of the list. Be sure to constantly check in with each other, talk and engage in conversation about how things are going and also about things outside of the baby.
Find ways to connect with each other
The grass is greenest where you water it – so take the time to find moments of connection with your partner every day. No matter how big or small they may be, they all count. Whether it’s finding a moment to sit down together and talk once the baby is asleep, cooking dinner together, running your partner a bath or giving a massage.
The time and effort you put into your relationship now in just small ways will help your nurture your connection for when your partner is feeling ready to be intimate in other ways.
Take some time just for you
Between work, the baby and nurturing that relationship, it can be difficult to find time for yourself amongst it all. Make sure you find a time in the diary each week that is for you – and make sure your partner has their own time too. Taking time out for doing something just for you will help you be better and more present when you are with your family. Whether it’s a hobby, exercise or catching up with a friend – do something that you enjoy.
During this first year with a baby, there is so much change, the days and weeks roll into one and it can be easy to lose yourself amongst the chaos. We know you just want to be the most amazing dad/partner but it can also be a tricky road to navigate. But don’t worry because there’s no such thing as the perfect parent, we’re not aiming for perfection but we do want an A+ for effort! Because your partner will thank you, your baby will think you’re the best and trust us, what you’ll get out of it is better than you could have imagined.
This is a paid partnership between Kiindred x H&M.