Your daily routines will change following childbirth. Helping one another becomes extra important. Arrange for both of you to be at home for at least the first week or two after the birth.
It can be helpful to plan the division of household labour and agree on who does what before your baby is born. Try to share the household chores. Talk about who will be employed in paid work. Be willing to re-negotiate the division of labour as needed. Remember to acknowledge one another’s practical support.
CONVERSATION STARTER: Who does what?
How many hours per day do you each spend caring for your infant (e.g., feeding, soothing, bathing)?
How many hours per day do you each spend in paid work?
How many hours per day do you each spend doing household chores (e.g. packing the dishwasher)?
How satisfied are you with how the tasks are distributed?
Is there anything you’d like to change about how paid and family work is distributed?
If you are not the primary caregiver
Try to support your partner so that they can focus on resting and feeding your baby for the first six weeks, or until they feel able to take on more duties. Try to help out rather than get angry if your partner is finding it hard to cope with everyday chores. Take the baby if your partner is getting upset or flustered.
Provide your partner with breaks that they can count on, by doing things such as taking the baby out for a walk. Help them have time away from the baby doing something pleasurable (e.g., a massage or a warm bath). Try to arrange things so that your partner has some leisure time at least once a week. Discuss how they will be supported with childcare and home duties if you are unable to assist (e.g., hire a cleaner).
Communicate that you need help by specifically stating what you need:
Instead of saying, “I feel overwhelmed and need help around here” ask, “Would you please do the laundry for me this week? I’m feeling so overwhelmed”.
Encourage your partner to be involved with the baby and give them space to do this without watching over them, as this will build their confidence and help them build a strong relationship with your child. Your attitude towards your partner’s parenting affects how confident they feel in caring for your baby. Accept that you may do things differently, and that these different experiences can be good for your baby. Discuss any differences in parenting to ensure that you are both happy with how your baby is being parented.
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