Postpartum conversations to have with your partner about roles and parenting.
By Midwife and Group Facilitator Emma A.
I find it very strange that in our society we can move into the new role of parenting, one of the biggest and hardest jobs, without any qualifications, guidance, or assistance. Sometimes we do it with no planning at all, sometimes we don’t even know we are doing it until it happens. Sometimes it is incredibly planned and wanted and struggled for. Sometimes other people take control of the decision making and it can be a harmful experience. Often it is the most amazing and rewarding experience. However, it is not one that we were designed to do in isolation. It really does take a community of support to be an effective parent and its important to have robust postpartum conversations with your partner about roles and parenting.
Many ancient cultures value women and birthing and set aside a period post birth where the woman is nurtured and cared for by her extended family to assist with the transition into motherhood. Her partner would also be supported and assisted to carry out domestic tasks and caring for their partner and child. Most current western cultures do not do this. The immediate postnatal period is such a special period of time but in its current format can become stressful, rather than supporting bonding and being joyful.
Spend some time considering who your support system is and how they will be helpful to you. What kind of support do you think you might need? What kind of support will be hard to accept and how can you work on this? Talk to your family and friends about how you will deal with any potential changes to your relationship when you have less time and brain capacity.
Have the conversation!
Here are some important postpartum conversations about roles and parenting that may be useful to have with a partner, your family, and your friends before, during and after entering parenthood.
- How were you parented? This is a big conversation about what you did or didn’t like about how you were parented and how you grew up, and whether you can you change this narrative. If you were parented very differently, how will you navigate these different styles? You may be experiencing intergenerational trauma and be concerned about this impacting your children, if so, access mental health supports or your community to help you process and work on this.
- Which roles will you take? Have you had a conversation about how roles within the family will be divided or shared? Will they be very separate, or will there be crossover in who is working outside of the home? Will there be a primary carer? Will there be crossover in who does household chores and carries the mental load of the family? Will the work/role situation be split by gender and is this ok with everyone involved? Try to ensure you are valuing the role of parent and the impact of it, as it is a full-time job with a lot of responsibility and little down time. The phrase “letting the employed person sleep because they have to go to work” can create damaging patterns in how we view being a primary carer and the health of that person. If roles are being shared, then each person needs to take the full role including the mental load not just physical aspects.
If you want to really prepare yourself before baby, book into our Preparing for Parenthood course running every term. The course is delivered through your second – fourth trimesters and is highly practical to prepare you to be the best parent you can be.