Partner Parenting

Studies show that women still do more household chores than their partner, including childcare and maintenance. Some call it the invisible workload; others refer to it as the household gender gap or the second shift. Interesting data can be found elsewhere (like this 2016 Huffington Post article) and PSP members have plenty of anecdotal evidence. PSP members also have useful tips and advice about how they distributed childcare tasks. This article divulges their most intimate words of wisdom about sharing the workload with your parent - with a focus on feeding, sleeping, and taking care of the little one in the middle of the night.




As one parent asks their PSP baby group,

"Wondering what your nighttime routines are with your LO and partner. My husband is back at work and I've been trying to manage all of the overnight duty so he can get a full night's sleep, but in the morning I'm finding myself extremely tired and resenting the fact that he slept all night. He'll help out however's needed, but I'm not sure what to ask for (I'm exclusively breastfeeding).
Early on he was handling diaper changes, but it seemed kinda silly for us both to be sleep deprived. Is anyone preparing bottles (breastmilk or formula) for their partners to take one of the night feedings? If so, how do you handle missing a feeding if you're breastfeeding? Do you still need to get up and pump, or can you maintain supply and miss the feeding?
Just curious if anyone has any nighttime routines that are working for them."


Full Replies:


Beginning and end of the night:

"I have always dealt with the babies in the night, breastfeeding when they wanted. I always found that I would be half awake anyway when they stired (I now actually wake up 2 minutes before the baby wants to feed) as I was much more tuned into the baby than my husband, who would just sleep (and he is a light sleeper).  How many times per night do you feed the baby? And can you catch up sleep in the day? Do you always have to change diapers?   I found it more helpful for my partner to do late evening feedings (pump before you go to bed) and/or early morning ones, while I could catch up some sleep then. And maybe he can do more on weekends to give you a break?  Hang in there, it will get better. 7 weeks is still very little."

"Our routine is similar to [the previous poster]'s. I pump around 10 and sleep for a few hours while my husband watches baby. I take over during the night from 1 til about 6:30-7. My husband wakes up earlier than normal to change and feed the baby before he gets ready. I pump again as soon as I get up. Sometimes it works out that we both get several hours of sleep. And sometimes not! Our LO is 6.5 weeks and still only vaguely on a schedule."


Early morning shift:

"We are still figuring out our routine because we did the same - me/all baby care & him/full night rest when he went back to work. But I was struggling with the night time feedings and the day time care. So my husband has started to take the early morning shift (4-6am) with a bottle of pumped milk. We had some growing pains (literally for me - plugged ducts and blebs) there bc on top of engorgement, which wasn't sooo bad by itself, I didn't realize I had to pump every day if we were going to do that. I've started to pump at night an hour after she goes to bed since her first sleep stretch is at least 4 hours. Or in the morning right when I wake up. Sometimes she doesn't wake up during his shift so it has worked out so far and has given us a little stock of frozen breast milk that we are stashing for my return to work. But it could all change tomorrow! 
When my husband gets home from work, he usually gives me an hour off so I can shower and eat something. That makes the rest of the evening easier and let's us enjoy some family time, esp her bedtime rituals. For a while I was staying up much later to get stuff done around the house but the age old advice of sleeping when the baby sleeps has prevailed. We both now try to get to sleep within a couple hours of her zonking out, which is usually around 8pm."

"Yes- my husband and I do something similar. I do the first overnight wake up and he does the morning wake up with pumped milk so I can sleep in a little. Agreed- it is very hard to take care of the baby all day if you don't get enough sleep at night. And the anxiety comes with that- full force. At times I feel guilty for making my husband wake up and do the feed (he is a musician so often doesn't get home from gigs until quite late.) BUT being the primary caretaker is hard. Really hard. And taking care of yourself is important as well. Even a little extra sleep in the morning makes me feel much more capable of doing what I need to do during the day. Best mom advice I've gotten thus far was from a good friend of mine with two kids: it's like the flight attendants say preflight- We have to put on our oxygen masks first, before we can put on those for our children (or whatever the saying is!)  A well(ish) rested and happier mama makes for a happier baby."

"After talking with my husband I think we're going to try to have him take the AM shift (4-7am) since he likes the morning. If we get to bed early enough he'll still get 6-7 hours of sleep. It's funny how he can sleep through [our child] waking up, or screaming through a diaper change. Me on the other hand, not so much (and sounds like you all by the number of people that have to sleep in another location). I only half sleep when [our child] is in the bassinet next to me. So that's something else we'll have to figure out..."


Split the night up:

I know this doesn't work for everyone, but my partner and I split the night up. Basically he does 10-2:30am and I do 2:30-7am. All that means is we both go to sleep, but if our son cries during those timeframes, the assigned person will feed, change and put the baby back to sleep. It allows us to each get a chunk of uninterrupted sleep and be more sane. Otherwise, as you mentioned, both people are cranky, unrested and pretending to be asleep :)  
He picked the earlier shift so he's more well rested closer to the start of his work day and that's usually when I need a break anyway. Now that our son is 9-weeks old, it's not nearly as rough since he sleeps longer stretches, but I highly recommend it (even if it's one feeding). Essentially, I pump a bottle or two for him and he'll use it during the night. It's also been good practice to make sure he can take a bottle when I go back to work. 
The pumped milk is incremental to normal feedings as you still want your body to think you are feeding the baby. Note: you don't have to pump at the time of the feeding, just make sure you get it in during that day. However, once the baby sleeps longer stretches and milk supply is established, you mat not have to pump extra. I would gage that based on what you express/how much your baby eats. 
I'm a second time mom and I waited a long time to pump my last pregnancy, but this time, I started doing it right away for various reasons, but I highly recommend doing it for sanity reasons."


Every other night:

"My husband has been taking every other night with a feeding - either a bottle of formula or pumped milk if we have it. I go to bed after the 8/9 feeding and my husband sleeps in the living room with the baby. He does the next feeding then goes back to sleep. When he wakes up for 4am feeding he brings him into me. Boobs are definitely full by then and I'll pump sometimes after.   They def start to sleep longer but sharing the night feeding helps a lot!"


Find a different duty for your partner to help with:

"I can totally relate to the feeling of resentment!  Since he went back to work, my husband sleeps through the night and I take care of all things baby related.  On one hand, it makes some sense, but on the other hand, we both need to feel rested to have good days.  This comic really resonated with me and helped give us some language to figure out what was going on:  Now my husband cleans the kitchen every night.  It doesn't exactly make sense, but it makes me feel taken care of, eliminates that resentment I was feeling, and takes the thought of a messy kitchen completely out of my mind."


Related reading on PSP:

Establishing Schedules and Sleeping Through the Night