The baby has an intense need to be with its mother throughout the early years. In traditional terms, the biology of the baby and, in anthroposophic terms, The Madonna Cloak, deems this to be so. The baby and mother are one.
Many breastfeeding mothers talk about wanting to give their baby a bottle so “Dad can feed the baby and be involved.” I understand mothers wanting their partners to be involved, and I especially understand first-time mothers who may be viewing this bonding experience between father and infant as something that needs to occur right away. And I agree that too many attached mothers forget that the baby is attached to the family, not just the mother.
However, just like everything under the sun, there is a time and a place and a way. Dads are wonderful at taking care of mother while she does the job that only she can do – nurture their baby at the breast. Dads can cook and clean and help with the older siblings. Dads can help bathe the baby, do diaper changes with the baby, walk the baby around, sing songs to the baby and hold the baby after the baby has nursed. Dad can establish connection with the whole family! Dad can feed the baby solids when that time comes. (If you have questions regarding that, please see this insanely popular post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/03/11/starting-solids-with-your-infant-and-picky-toddler-eating/). Dad truly does not have to feed the baby a bottle to be connected!
After three children, my husband now sees this newborn period as a time to nurture me and our older children. He is involved with the baby in terms of holding, walking the baby around and other tasks, but he also shrugs his shoulders and says to our little guy, “ Especially when you get a bit bigger, what a wonderful time we are going to have together!” He recognizes that in this early period, there is a connection between mother and child that is paramount. He also recognizes the critical role of fathering for both boys and girls, but knows that right now the needs of the infant are best met at the breast. For more about mothering and fathering, please see this post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/01/23/the-necessity-of-mothering-and-fathering/
I have heard many first- time mothers talk about the changes in their marriage and relationship with their spouse having a baby causes. I have written many posts regarding this, and here is one of the most popular ones for your reading pleasure: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/17/using-your-first-year-of-parenting-to-fall-deeper-in-love-with-your-spouse/
You do not have to leave your baby behind in order to nurture your marriage. If you only have one baby, you can work toward having a special dinner and a movie cued up for when your baby goes to sleep. You can have great conversation while your baby nurses. If you have older children as well, many attached families are still comfortable with being together at home after the children are in bed. If an attached couple with multiple children does feel the need to “go out”, many times the older children may stay with a trusted relative or friend, but the baby comes with the mother. This is not my personal choice for babies due to my Waldorf leanings, but at least we see respect for that biological and cosmic unity in this scenario. Perhaps protection from assaults on the senses can occur if the mother and father either celebrate being together at home or somewhere quiet!
At this point, I personally am committed to being home for at least 40 days if not a bit longer. I am so thankful to my husband, family and friends who are supporting me in this endeavor. I know the baby appreciates it as well. :)
Think about how you can meet the needs of the youngest member of your family today.