This is a great article on allowing daddy to find his own way and bond with a new baby. Lori Bregman helps people get pregnant, as well as deliver babies (and everything in between) through her Rooted for Life - pregnancy program.
Nothing I’ve ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children.”
~ Bill Cosby
As a new mother there is an undeniable intuitive knowing and connection between a mother and her child. After the birth of your baby they are totally dependent on you and comforted by your energy, scent, heartbeat and voice. All of them being the most consistent and stable things they have known for the past 9 months of their development. We produce breast milk - natures best food for our babies to thrive on; breastfeeding also deepens the connection and bonding experience between mother and child. They are helpless on their own without you. This special bond between a mother and her new baby can sometimes leave a new father feeling a bit alienated and intimidated. As important as the mother baby connection is, so is the father baby bonding time. These early months are when the foundation is set, and it's important that new dads feel like they are a part of it. The earlier on and more involved the father is, the deeper and more lasting the connection between the two of them will be.
I often hear many woman fearfully complain that their partner or the child's father isn’t bonding or connecting with their new baby. I have spoken with a lot of men about this, ones that were actively involved from the start and ones that weren’t, ...here are some of the things they said.
1. The baby can’t do anything, there is nothing my baby needs from me, I will be more involved when they are older and more interactive, ...when I can do things with them.
Tip for the ladies – Make sure that dad has a job. There is always something to do. Involve them right from the start; don’t alienate them. Pump your breastmilk so that they can take a shift in the morning, or at night. Let them feed the baby, or have them take the baby for a bit after you feed so you can sleep. Make them feel needed and thank them for helping you.
2. I try and help but she won’t let me do anything, so I just gave up trying and let her do everything.
Tip for the ladies – BIG mistake! All this will do is shut your dad down and stop them from trying or wanting to be involved. Again, find things that will help them feel part of the experience. Men love to be needed and if a new dad is wanting to be involved, then by all means let them. This will only deepen their bond and connection. Another thing I always tell my clients to do is to find reasons to leave them alone with the baby; even if at first you take a shower before feeling comfortable enough to run out to market. Lunch with friends, go to the gym, do some errands or whatever you need to do. The first time you leave your baby alone - you might panic. Your baby has been with you for 9 months straight. Take some deep breathes and call a friend and freak out to them if you need to, while assuring yourself as well as him that he can do this! He needs to know and feel that he is trusted by you, even though he might be scared a bit himself. If you believe and trust in him, he will believe and trust in himself.
3. Every time I try and help she tells me I am doing it wrong, so I give up! It makes me not want to try anymore.
Tip for the ladies - Often in relationships we are really good at pointing out what the other is doing wrong instead of focusing on what they are doing right. Same thing with parenting. Just like you are trying to find your way with your baby, you must allow a new dad to find their own way too. They might do things that make you want to cringe and scream out, “OMG! ...DON'T do it that way”. Take a deep breath, walk out of the room, ...let them try to figure it out on their own. If they are having a hard time, don’t grab the baby away from them, instead try giving them some positive reinforcement. If they are trying to burp the baby, bouncing them up and down frantically and smacking their back a little harder than you would ever do, breathe, take a beat, gather yourself before exploding and try something like this: ”Good job on getting him to drink that whole bottle! He never drinks that much at once. Do you think he is having a hard time burping?" Then, (if it feels right) say something like, "something that I have found that works is _________." Throw them a compliment and reflect something positive. You will then have their full attention and open to suggestions.
“Fathers, like mothers, are not born. Men grow into fathers and fathering is a very important stage in their development.” ~ David Gottesman
Find out more about Lori Bregman and her Pregnancy Program here: www.RootedForLife.com