Chapter 5 is addressed to one member of the partnership: moms (chapter 6 is addressed to dads). Still, it can be valuable for both members of the partnership to read, since it provides quite a bit of insight into what both partners are going to be going through.
The chapter begins by discussing the differences in how a mother experiences new parenthood vs a father. One thing to note is that this chapter makes the assumption that the mother was pregnant with the child, and it’s not an adoption. Though most of the book holds true no matter the circumstances of the birth, this chapter is more focused on the mother being pregnant.
It does make some sense – it discusses that the hormonal changes the woman experiences during pregnancy put her in a different mindset once the baby is born. If neither member of the party is experiencing those changes, they may be a little more on the same page regarding some of these things.
The book tells new mothers that the transition to motherhood will likely be “natural and dramatic” whereas it may take a bit longer for men to transition into fatherhood. It does mention nearly 60% of women experience a mild sadness after giving birth – the “baby blues” and somewhere between 5 and 20 percent of women will experience post-partum depression. It is important to speak with your doctor if you feel seriously depressed (or even mildly depressed) after giving birth.
So, how do new mothers help their partners transition into fatherhood? The book has some great insights, starting with reminding mothers to remember that the fatherhood experience is a bit different than their own. This can be exacerbated if the mother is taking on the primary responsibility of caring for the child. New fathers may wind up feeling a bit left out or lost. To help prevent that, new mothers should remember to try to include the father in as much of the routine as possible.
In fact, when it makes sense, new mothers should let the father take over some responsibilities fully. Perhaps it’s part of the bedtime routine, or maybe just the hour when they first get home from work. New mothers may be tempted to over-correct every move the father makes when taking over these responsibilities, but should try to let the father discover their own way of doing things.
The final tip the book gives is to remember that your partner is playing two roles now: father and husband (just as you are mother and wife). It’s important to take advantage of little moments to help remind yourself that you are a partnership and a unit. It may be making sure to talk before falling asleep, or perhaps it’s just holding hands at the dinner table. If you have the opportunity, taking the occasional date night is a wonderful way to re-connect as a couple. Once you feel up for something a little more exciting then dinner and a movie, we can help you plan!
Thanks for joining us for this book club! Next week is Chapter 6: For Dads: Man to Man.