Everyone knows the bond between a mother and her baby is intense, a bond of pure love and necessity. Many times new papas can feel left out of the bonding experience, creating tension in the relationship and leading to feelings of inadequacy. You can't push a baby out, or make breastmilk on demand, but there are other ways you can be involved with your bundle of joy. Papa glow extends Beyond dirty diapers and late night feedings when mama is catching up on zzz.
Here are 7 ways you can feel more involved and increase your paternal satisfaction...and glow like mama does.
Skin to skin- The baby is happiest when connecting skin-to-skin with mama or papa. His temperature, heart, and breathing rates will be more consistent, and his blood sugar more stable. It also allows the baby to get familiar with your scent and your heartbeat becomes a soothing beat for the little one. Spend time bonding, lounge around in your boxers and let the baby rest on your chest while you're watching tv- just be sure it's not the play-offs- don't want to startle the baby.
Play games- Make silly faces, play peek-a-boo, sing songs, for your baby. Set aside regular time for baby, whether it's after work or in the morning, appoint a special time that's just for you and the little one, so as the baby grows, this special bonding time becomes part of the daily routine.
Glow time- Glow time is an important concept that I introduce through my book, Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy. It's all about taking personal time to lavish yourself and shine! While mama is taking some alone time to shine and do what she loves, you can have glow time with your baby. This could be a bath time ritual where you shut off phones and dim the lights and enjoy a nice soak with your baby, or baby massage using a nice jojoba oil or calendula baby cream to rub your little one with soothing hands- relaxing the baby and preparing for bedtime so you and mama can have some glow time of your own. Or hit the streets a nice walk outside or a mild hike with the baby in a carrier, babies love the stimulation of being outside in the comfort of your arms.
Take charge- Mama may like things done a certain way and may even school you on how to handle certain tasks when it comes to baby like- how to warm a bottle, change a diaper, comfort your baby, etc. But you will develop your own way of doing these things. Rather than let mama step in and "correct you" and show you repeatedly how to do it her way, just keep practicing and you will learn your own technique and shortcuts for newborn care. Communicating that you are fine with handling the baby and taking the initiative without having to be asked is always great too. It gives you more one-on-one time with the baby too.
Slay your check lists- Mama will have a list of things that need to get done and feel overwhelmed at the thought of trying to get through the list. Ask her to delegate some of those tasks to you so you can complete them. Men like to "fix" things and get things done, be productive, etc. When you are able to satisfy her needs and help reduce her stress load by checking off some of her to-do-list she will be thrilled- and when mama is happy everyone is happy. This also satisfies your desire to feel needed, believe me, she needs and wants you around, although she's madly in love with a new little man who just happens to be 7 pounds 11 ounces and 20 inches long.
Keep it movin'- Babies are used to movement because of moms' hips moving when they were still in the womb. They feel soothed by movement and grow to have fun with it as well. Whether you're doing baby bench presses with your infant, baby yoga, or daddy dance party getting your baby to giggle while you're moving him around is great. Movement also helps increase the baby's muscle tone, and trains the baby's proprioceptors- his sense of self in relation to space.
Find a papa posse- Find other cool papas who share a similar philosophy, have kids the same age or just provide a listening ear. You may just need to bond with other men who are going through what you are. Having a sense of community and knowing that you are not alone is key. Being a new father can be an isolating experience but certainly doesn't have to be.
Whether you are a new papa or a veteran in the baby game, it's always good to learn some new tips to sharpen your skills, build your confidence, and boost your bond with your baby.