Letting Go When Your Partner is Struggling
You’ve handed your brand new baby off to your partner so you can get into the shower for the first time in…days? Everything with babies is a blur so you’re not really sure. Then, the second your feet are wet, you hear it.
Your baby is crying.
Perhaps it activates your letdown and you spill milk into the shower drain. It definitely activates your maternal instincts and you find it hard to stay in the shower. You quickly rinse off and walk to take the baby back.
Sound familiar? We promise it’s familiar for new mothers everywhere. That instinct to soothe and comfort your baby no matter who is holding them is strong. It’s easy to scoop the baby out of your partner’s hands and quiet the baby…but what if we asked you to let them struggle a bit?
Sure, it’s much easier for you to soothe the little being who lived in your womb for months on end. Your baby recognizes your smell, your voice, your heartbeat, even the rhythm of your sway. You are an immediate salve for any of their discomforts and this is wonderful. It can also leave you feeling depleted, exhausted, overwhelmed, and even contribute to Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders. How can we avoid this?
Let your partner try to soothe your crying baby and find their own way.
It’s so easy to think that your way is the only way when you hear your baby begin to fuss. The more you allow your partner to take over, though, the more comfortable they will be together.
Often we hear, “I don’t want to let my baby cry it out! They’re so small!” which is understandable. No caregiver wants to hear their baby cry. When in the arms of a loving caregiver, though, your baby is definitely not crying anything out. What they are doing is communicating that they have a need and being responded to. Your partner may be shushing, rocking, warming a bottle, or swaddling them up, but no matter what they are trying and your baby will be able to tell.
Crying also isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When babies are born the only way they can communicate that something is wrong is by crying and making noise. Remember, a cry could easily be “I’m a little chilly” or “I’m kind of tired”. All your baby is trying to do is communicate to their caregiver that something is less-than-satisfactory to them. Tears can feel really stressful to moms and dads but, generally speaking, they’re not emergent.
So, how do you let go? Well, that’s a bit easier said than done.
Studies have been done and show that a baby crying triggers a fear response in our brains, meaning hearing our own babies cry is actually stressful for us. It’s thought that this is a primal function of the brain which is meant to protect young babies from dying. The problem with that is we live much more comfortable and safe lives these days (we’re probably not running from wild animals wanting to eat us!).
Essentially, we have to train our brains not to panic in the event of our baby crying. This takes practice.
Now that you know it isn’t an emergency, you can reassure yourself that your baby is not suffering in the arms of their loving caregiver, even if they struggle a little. Remind yourself that it’s important for them to bond and go through trials together. Take a few deep breaths and step back. Let your baby and partner navigate these new waters together.
And, please, finish taking care of yourself! You’re important to this family unit too.
It may feel like you need to intervene the moment your baby begins to cry but this learning period is important to both baby and your partner. Allowing them to work together and figure out their own way helps to increase their bond as well as their confidence in one another. You’re also right there if your partner gets overwhelmed. It’s okay to let them learn.
Mom, it’s so hard to let go.
It takes practice but leaving your new little one in the arms of your co-parent can be one of the sweetest things in life. Hop back in the shower. Your baby is safe!