When my first child was born I felt an immediate attachment and need to protect her. If anyone else held her I never felt fully relaxed until she was back in my arms. The fact she was breastfeeding and refused to take a bottle meant that she was attached to me most of the time. In that first year I was the primary parent and her dad didn’t get much of a look in.
I am now amicably separated from the father of my kids but I often look at him and think what a great job he is doing as a dad. Sometimes I wonder whether this is because he is now allowed to parent his own way without me supervising over his shoulder.
A study has shown that over 50% of dads have minimal involvement with their newborns leaving the initial stages of parenting up to mum. Jennifer Hamilton the founder of app WOTbaby who conducted the survey said; “It’s a natural instinct for mums to want to protect their bub and sometimes they don’t realise dad is being left out.”
A study has shown that over 50% of dads have minimal involvement with their newborns leaving the initial stages of parenting up to mum.
“Mums tend to do everything in those first days, so dads don’t get as much hands on time. Then as time goes on, they tend to just stay away.” Jennifer believes it’s important that dads have that involvement early on so routines and bonds are established, and even if mum is breastfeeding, dad can do things like skin-to-skin contact, settling and bathing.
It seems when it comes to looking after newborns babies we sometimes fall into the trap of old school gender stereotypes where the man goes to work and provides while the woman stays home caring for the baby. For example there are plenty of mother’s groups and places for a new mum to bond with fellow mums, but what about dads?
There seems to be an expectation that mums are responsible for those first few weeks and months of parenting and if dad joins in he gets bonus points. It never fails to shock me that if a mum leaves the house after having a baby, she constantly get asked ‘who has the baby?’ Where dads never face these kind of questions, and are often asked when they have their own children if they are ‘babysitting’.
I think it’s up to all of us… mums, dads and society to ensure that bonds are established with both parents from the start. Kids are hard bloody work too so sharing the load both emotionally and physically is good for all of us, including bubba.
Did you share parenting equally with a newborn?