Do you know the beefy man you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley? The one who has a body shape that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger nervous? That's my husband. Would you believe he was terrified to hold our newborn? During the nine months of pregnancy, we both talked about our excitement, our plans, and what we were looking forward to the most. I never heard him express his fears, outside his own personal nervousness, to be a new dad.

When our daughter was born he fell in love all over, again, but he was terrified to hold her for fear of hurting or breaking her. He was also very overwhelmed with his new responsibility as a father. One thing I learned very quickly about my husband (and most men): if you don't give your spouse the opportunity to help and overcome their fears, they won't. If you don't give your spouse and baby the time to bond, who will?

With my husband's fear of holding our newborn, I was able to have him sit on the couch, and sit next to him while he held her. Some days, we placed a pillow on his lap (for extra support), and other days he held her in a blanket. This wasn't a one-time success; his confidence had to build. He had to know I trusted him with this new arrival.

Ladies, one thing I will say, with all the visitors, mothers, and mother-in-laws coming in and out to help and see the newborn, your husband will feel left out and pushed aside. This causes feelings of alienation and jealousy. You trusted this man enough to have this baby with him, now give him the opportunity to step up and be a father. If you are formula feeding (or breastfeeding) prepare a bottle for your spouse so he can feed the baby, and spend time with her. This will allow the two to meet, bond, and give you some much needed sleep.

Encourage your spouse to be with the baby, even if it's for a few minutes. My husband is finishing his degree, and although he is doing homework at home he's not engaged with the family. So, every few hours I will take our daughter to him so he can have a study break. This way, he has a chance to be with her, instead of watching her grow up through pictures.

So, recap:

  • Trust your spouse with the baby.

  • Allow your spouse to hold, feed, and change the baby. Don't do everything yourself.

  • Provide your spouse time and opportunity to bond with the baby.

  • Give your spouse a responsibility to help you with the baby.

  • Above all, enable your spouse be a father.

Good luck, and happy bonding.

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