Q: My daughter is now six weeks old . My husband is a brilliant hands-on dad, but he is refusing to do the night feeds, saying that he'll be too tired for work the next day, and that I can sleep in the day if I want to. This is just not the case and I am exhausted. I stopped breastfeeding two weeks ago so there is no reason why he can't be more involved. How can I make it clear I need him to pull his weight, and am I being unreasonable?
A: The early days of parenthood are absolutely exhausting and there is no question that it should be a team effort when it comes to all aspects of dealing with a newborn.
Unfortunately, it can be the case that the 'working' parent feels the stay at home parent should be better able to cope with the sleepless nights as they can nap during the day. As you are discovering, this is not strictly true!
You do need to get through to your husband because, if you don't, you are going to find it increasingly difficult to manage. Not only are you coping with sleep deprivation, you are also recovering from the sheer effort of giving birth and this is a very tough time for both your body and your mind.
If you haven't already, the first thing you ought to do is explain, gently but firmly, how you are feeling. It could be the case that he thinks you are coping with the sleepless nights, and hadn't realised that you are finding it a struggle.
Another option would be to find a workable compromise. At the very least, perhaps your husband could do the weekend night shifts, with a view to increasing them into the week? After a few of these night shifts your husband might have a better idea of the work involved. He may also begin to understand that sleeping in the day is not really an option.
Another idea that works for many couples is to take the night shifts in turn. This way, you know you are only 24 hours away from a good sleep and this will pull you through the long nights. Perhaps you could suggest this to your husband and stress the point that alternating does allow a regular sleeping pattern for both of you.
Finally, keep in mind that the sleepless nights don't last forever. It is undoubtedly a tough time but the vast majority of babies will eventually master night sleeping and life will become easier. But don't be afraid to ask for, and expect, help from your husband.
Did you cope with night feeds on your own, or was it a team effort? Leave a comment below...
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