SafeMotherhood
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PARENTING

Helping each other

With a first baby, most couples expect that there will be enormous adjustments from being a couple to being a family - even the arrival of subsequent children means changes in family relationships, and it may take some time to balance the needs you all have for love and attention.

Sometimes the mother feels she is 'giving out' the whole time and her partner can find it hard to provide love and support for her when she needs it. The sheer physical hard work of looking after a baby can also come as a shock: "I'm staggered by how much carrying and lifting I do as a mother."

Every relationship is different and you will know best what gives yours a boost. Here are some suggestions:

• Take the baby out and let mum have a break.
• Do a round of laundry and finish the ironing.
• Keep the car topped up with petral.
• Order her favourite takeaway and fetch it yourself.
• If she wants to go out with you, do the phoning round for a babysitter.
• Talk through how you're feeling and listen to each other without giving advice.
• Enjoy a back rub together.

Bringing up a baby puts you powerfully in touch with the past and your own babyhood. This is a time, if you haven't already done so, for talking about your past, finding what experiences you have in common, and what the differences are. It can also be a time for thinking about ways in which you would like to do things differently from your parents.

Think of your relationship as the root out of which the whole structure of your new life needs to grow and flourish. Keep talking, spending time together, listening to each other, considering each other. You depend on each other and need to take care of each other.

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