How will you feed the baby? Breastfeeding
is recommended by pretty much every health organization, and for good
reason—it’s good for Mom, good for Baby, and good for public health. It
can also be extremely convenient, once you get the hang of it: no
bottles to wash, no formula to purchase, no water to sterilize . . .
your milk is always ready, and always at the right temperature. If you
plan to nurse your baby, here are some issues you’ll want to think
• How will you
share the burden of nighttime feedings? Some moms pump and leave a
bottle so that Dad can get the first feeding while they sleep through.
Other moms find that pumping a bottle is almost as much hassle as
getting up in the middle of the night, and you may experience a drop in
your milk supply if you don’t breastfeed every few hours in those
crucial early weeks. One nice compromise is for Dad to be the one who
gets out of bed and brings the baby to Mom for the feeding.
Will Dad feel left out if he doesn’t get to feed the baby? If so,
brainstorm ways to help him feel involved in the process. One nice
idea—he can “feed” mom nutritious, healthy food so she can keep making
that milk without overtaxing her own body.
Is Dad really on board with breastfeeding? Does he understand the level
of support he’ll need to provide to help you succeed? Some reading
material or even a special “breastfeeding 101” class geared toward
expecting couples may help him see the light.
How does your spouse or partner feel about breastfeeding in public? If
he’s squeamish, educate him now. Babies shouldn’t have to hide away in
dirty bathrooms to eat, and moms can learn to breastfeed so discreetly
you’d never know they were doing it.
Make sure you plan to bring your spouse or a good friend (the kind you
don’t mind being a little immodest around) with you the first time you
make a public outing with the baby. When you’re getting the hang of
breastfeeding in public, an extra set of hands or just a body to block
you from view can make it much easier.
can be comforting to the mom who wants to know exactly how much milk
her baby is getting from day one, and moms who know they’ll be
returning to work soon after the baby is born often see bottle feeding
as the more convenient option. Here are some considerations to keep in
mind before you choose the bottle:
Will you give formula exclusively, attempt to alternate breast and
bottle, or pump breast milk for your baby? Some mothers who are
uncomfortable with breastfeeding because of a history of abuse or other
body issues are able to pump and give breast milk. Regular pumping will
require quiet time every two to three hours and active help from your
spouse, since it’s pretty difficult to pump and hold a baby at the same
• Have you budgeted for formula? It
can be very expensive. If your baby does not tolerate the kind of
formula you’ve chosen, can you afford the special type?
How will you and Dad share feedings, especially nighttime feedings?
Will you split them fifty-fifty or come up with some other system? Talk
about it now so you’re both on the same page later. If you have a
cesarean birth, it’ll be especially important that you have a lot of
help with bottle feedings. Remember, you’ll need to measure and mix the
formula, heat the water, pick up the baby, and put her back down.
That’s a lot of activity for somebody who’s recovering from abdominal
Where will Baby sleep?
you’re home, will your baby sleep in her own room, in her own bed in
your room, or in your bed? Consider these potential issues:
If she’s sleeping in her own room: She’ll be eating around the clock
for the first several weeks of her life. Who will listen for the sounds
that indicate she’s waking up and hungry? (It’s usually easiest to calm
a baby who hasn’t worked herself up into a fullfledged cry.) Will you
use a monitor? Who will go get the baby and bring her to the bedroom?
Don’t make any assumptions. Talk about it in advance.
If she’s sleeping in your room: How will Dad assist with nighttime
waking? If the baby is sleeping in your bed or very close to your bed,
it might seem there’s no point in your husband getting up for
feedings—you’ll have it covered easily. But if he can take over all or
some of the nighttime diaper changes, that will ease your burden.
What kind of diapers will you use?
Some dads seem almost afraid of cloth diapers. They envision pinpricks
and poop flying everywhere. If you’re leaning toward cloth, take a
moment to show your spouse how simple the new systems are to use. In those first couple weeks
postpartum, you will need to rest, not cart heavy loads of diapers to
the washing machine. Make sure your spouse knows what he’ll have to do
to get the diapers where they need to go. Some couples who know they’ll
be using cloth diapers down the road opt for disposables for the first
few weeks to make things easier. If chemicals and the environment are a
concern, you can buy unbleached, ecofriendly disposables from companies
like Seventh Generation and Tushies. Or try flushable diapers, a
relatively new product that’s more environmentally friendly than
regular disposables but doesn’t have the same laundering requirements.
You can find out more at GDiapers.com
How will you dispose of dirty diapers? Some people are fine tossing
newborn baby diapers right in the regular trash. Even the poopy ones
generally aren’t any smellier than other food waste. Other folks aren’t
comfortable unless the diapers are triple-wrapped and stamped with a
biohazard symbol. Where do you fall on the spectrum? Where does your
partner or spouse?
which option you choose, diapering requires developing a comfort level
with your child’s bodily functions, not to mention fluids! Yes, I am
afraid sometimes you will get poop on your hands, no matter how careful
and sterile you try to be. Unfortunately, society seems to give men a
pass in this department (ever noticed there aren’t nearly as many
diaper-changing stations in the MEN’S restrooms?), and too many women
let their partners squirm out of really taking responsibility for
diapering because the guys play squeamish. Along with children come
years of pottying accidents, blood, and vomit. If Dad can’t handle a
little innocuous newborn poop now, he needs to get over it! Making the
lion’s share of the diapering his job in the early weeks will help.
Who will take Baby to her first doctor’s visit?
a cruel truth: You’ve just gotten home from the hospital and settled in
with your new baby, and the very next day, your pediatrician is
probably expecting you to show up in her office with the baby. I highly
recommend that your spouse or partner attend this appointment with you.
Not only will it be good for the two of you to both develop a working
relationship with your child’s doctor, but you’re going to need help
getting out the door on time with a new baby!
is only the beginning of your co-parenting relationship with your
child’s father. Most decisions you make now can be changed later as you
get a real taste of juggling life with a baby and all your other
responsibilities. But I encourage you to involve your spouse or partner
heavily in your baby’s care (and in the early weeks, your care)
because this may influence how involved he is comfortable being down
the line. As your lives get busier and busier, it will be only too easy
for both of you to fall into the familiar gender roles that were likely
reflected in your home growing up, and for his involvement in his
child’s life to be downplayed or relegated only to stereotypical “male”
areas. Begin as you mean to go on. Get Dad on board early, and in a
meaningful way. This is such an important topic I’ll revisit it after
Baby arrives. In the meantime, open the lines of communication with
your partner. It’s bound to reap rich rewards in every area of your