Training Your Spouse/Significant Other for Nightly Newborn CareHannah Chow |30, March 2015
Preparing for life as a first time mom is an exciting and adventurous voyage. Preparing for life as a first time dad can be just as thrilling. So far, you may have completed the nursery, installed the car seat, and assembled a stroller. Setting up the nursery and training for a newborn is the fun part. After delivery, the real work begins. For many expectant mothers out there, don't worry, you do not have to tackle one hundred percent of the newborn responsibilities yourself. Support and help from your significant other is not a luxury, it's a necessity, especially during those late night diaper changes and feedings. Right now is the perfect time to start training your significant other for nightly newborn care.
It Takes Two to Tango
Before you deliver, talk about your expectations with your significant other. Say, "Honey, our lives are going to change dramatically when the baby is born. To prevent us from getting overwhelmed, I'd really like to discuss what you expect from me, and I will share with you what I expect." According to National Healthy Marriage Resource Center's website twoofus.org, "Couples struggle to find time for work, care for each other, and take care of the house and children." Two of Us coaches open communication and maintaining a working plan for the family. Devise a functional plan that everyone feels comfortable with. "Talk openly about these issues together and develop a plan that works best for everyone," they say.
Prepare for your bundle of joy by setting up a Daddy changing station and a Daddy feeding station. This could be something as simple as a changing table with easy to access diapers and wipes and a comfortable chair with a nightstand for feedings. The feeding station doesn't always have to be in the nursery. If your significant other enjoys watching television or listening to music, set up a comfortable feeding chair by the television and place an iPod or music player by the changing station. Train them to detect early signs of hunger too. According to the Mayo Clinic Staff, "Most newborns need eight to 12 feedings a day, one feeding every two to three hours. Look for early signs of hunger, such as stirring and stretching, sucking motions and lip movements. Fussing and crying are later cues."
Time to Wake Up
Set a timer for yourself and your significant other every two to three hours. If you are bottle-feeding, take turns to change dirty diapers and take turns bottle-feeding. Remember, you are not going to get a full nights rest for a couple of months. According to Karisa Ding at Health Day, "Nursing mothers often bear the brunt of sleep loss. Many newborns breastfeed as often as every hour or two, leaving their moms struggling to stay alert during the day." Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed, get your significant other involved in the process. If you bottle-feed, take turns. If you choose to breastfeed, make your significant other go get the baby, change the baby, and bring them to you so your only chore is to feed the baby and then go back to bed.
Words of Affirmation
Tell your significant other how much you appreciate their help and hard work. Words of affirmation are very important in a relationship. Let them know that you recognize their efforts and couldn't do it without them. Encourage good behavior by saying things like, "Our kids are so fortunate to have you as a parent"... "I really admire your hard work and efforts" . . . "Thank you." Encouraging and affirming your significant other really helps them continue their labors. Practice by starting small. Saying please and thank you may go a long, long way.
When All Is Said And Done
When you start to feel like you taking on everything by yourself and when all else fails, remind your significant other that the baby is half theirs too, meaning shared responsibilities in every aspect of the baby's new life. Schedule some time during the day or evening to relax. Consider handing the baby over for an hour or two and giving yourself a pedicure, a bubble bath, or maybe watch your favorite television show without interruptions. Explain to your significant other that you will be sharing duties 24 hours a day, not just a few hours in the evening.
At the end of the day, this time shall pass and eventually you will both be getting sleep and enjoying your relationship again. In the meantime, take lots of naps and remember parenthood is easier with the help of others. After your significant other is professionally trained for nightly newborn care, call in reinforcement and ask a friend or family member to watch the baby while you take each other out on a date. Take care of each other and you will be better parents to care for a little one.
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