As you step into this exciting chapter of life, you’re likely to be filled with questions, concerns, and a desire to learn and grow. The good news is that you’re not alone in this adventure, and there’s a treasure trove of knowledge waiting for you in the form of books, podcasts, social accounts and more. Of course, often this content feels like it’s designed for the birthing person, not both parents! So, we decided to come up with a selection of resources that supports ALL people involved as we all give and receive care during this phase of our lives!
We’re here to guide you through the ever-expanding universe of resources tailored specifically for new partners (or at least ones we think are required reading). Whether you’re seeking expert advice, looking for relatable stories, or simply wanting to connect with fellow partners who have been there and done that, we’ve got you
So, grab a comfy chair, your favorite beverage, it’s time to build your essential toolkit for the incredible adventure that lies ahead.
Parenting With a Partner — Things to Consider
A note on primary relationships: these can and will look different for everyone going through parenthood. For some this means a relationship to themselves, with a partner, or with a close inner circle of folks. Adapt the information below to fit your family structure, and leave what doesn’t feel right or fit for you.
Parenting with a partner and community adds a distinct layer to these relationships. It asks that you engage with another person in raising your shared child(ren), which in the first year postpartum is an especially intimate and enmeshed part of daily life. Below are some of the pillars that compromise shared parenting:
Dividing responsibilities throughout the day and night will vary from family to family. A baby’s needs in the first year are deeply demanding, and (if available) necessitate additional support for all parties.
Discussing every individual’s needs in relation to how they can provide care to your baby is crucial. As you identify the gaps in your baby’s care based on ability to provide, you can then seek additional support to meet those needs.
- If one person is needed to supply more care for certain needs – such as providing milk for your baby – what are the ways in which that parent’s needs can be supported to make up for the difference?
- If your family is able to, are there ways in which you can pay for services? These might include doulas, cleaning care, pet care, and nourishment for the parents.
Factoring in lived realities beyond parenting is important, as this will inform the capacities of each parent and community member. For most folks, this will be their careers, primary relationships, and other responsibilities. Take into consideration needs based around play, care of self, wellness, and joy; these are deeply important as they can bolster parents through difficult moments.
- Making lists of your individual needs, capacity and responsibilities to share with your co-parents and community can aid you in receiving the support you desire.
Expecting, factoring in, and then addressing disagreements in parenting (styles), can support you in being more resourced and understanding, and provide a scaffolding for future roadblocks. This will not negate any surprises, but can be helpful as preventative care for your family. These differences are informed by structures of power and each of your individual placements in the world – which can have implications for planning, sharing and deciding many of the pillars outlined below.
As you explore the pillars of shared parenting, we’ll begin to contemplate how the lived reality of parenting may look, feel and be. Below are topics to discuss, honour and navigate with partner(s), co-parents, your support team and greater community.
If you are considering starting these conversations, it may be nice to ask starter questions to contemplate – for days, hours, or right before you dive right in. Here are a few suggestions.
- What are you bringing to parenting – from your past (experiences), present (mentors) and future (goals)?
- What are things you can be united about – in terms of not wanting, and wanting to bring into your parenting journey?
As you reintegrate into your life, body and relationships after this set of experiences, give yourself patience and kindness knowing that the ways in which you come to connection will be inherently different. As a different person yourself, you may need to find new ways to connect, broaden your understanding of postpartum effects and make adjustments to begin reconnecting intimately.
Communication is Key
Communication within your partnership, relationships and community are key in maintaining healthy and satisfying bonds. Finding the time to do so in parenthood will look very different then beforehand. The demands on your time, self, and life will impact how you are able to access communication. You’ll find some tactics and reflections below:
- Mindful time and standing appointments can be helpful for folks who have a hard time finding spontaneous moments to connect. You can rely on the structure of this (biweekly or monthly) meeting, knowing there is dedicated time to address things as they come up and recur. The structure of this time can encompass similar topics every meeting, and you can have a standing agenda to reference and have ground you.
- Communicating via other methods can be supportive for folks, especially those who are in constant verbal contact, and supporting each other in person through parenthood. For example, writing can be a cathartic and supportive act for a partnership and relationships. It provides the time and distance to reflect and organize your thoughts before sharing them in a letter, email or text.
- Dedicated containers, with specific time and people involved, can hold you to dive more deeply and carry you into sharing with each other candidly. These containers can be: therapy sessions, monthly grounding conversations, and time together that is solely for connection (as opposed to for sharing, problem solving, or life management).
Looking for resources tailored to new parenting partners?
Dive into our handpicked collection for the non-birthing partners! We’ve curated a variety of podcasts, articles, books, social media accounts, and extras to support your journey into parenthood. No more late-night Googling.