How to Advocate to Your Partner
Any advice when parents do not see eye-to-eye? After 9 months of arguing we still cannot agree on our baby’s sleeping habits. I’m a breastfeeder and pro-baby sleeping next to me. My husband is constantly advocating for the crib. I fear this is negatively affecting our relationship. Is there a happy medium?
Decades ago, Bill and I learned that what a baby needs most is not only a happy, rested mother, but also happy parents in a happy marriage. I vividly remember my first cosleeping experience in 1978 with baby number four, Hayden. In desperation to get a good night’s sleep I instinctively removed her from crying in her crib. I nestled her next to me in bed, and I felt a surge of a mommy-brain instinct: this feels so right!
Over the next forty-plus years we taught and wrote extensively about the long-term benefits of cosleeping to baby – and family. A resource I recommend you read is The Baby Sleep Book where we wrote an entire chapter on nighttime fathering. Suggest you go through these cosleeping mindset tips with your husband.
Listen to his reasoning behind wanting you to stop cosleeping.
Insist he be open and honest with you. If, like many husbands, he feels he is being left out and has somehow lost most of his wife to this little baby, then soul-search yourself to see if there are ways that you could rekindle your love life yet still follow your deep maternal instinct that cosleeping is best. Enjoy more date nights and romantic dinners for two – okay, realistically, dinners for three (that’s now real life). On a sexual note, if he feels cosleeping is putting a damper on your sex life, think about ways to improve it. Basically, something like, “Honey, this little baby is the greatest gift to us. I want you to be happy and I want us to be happy, so let’s talk about this…”
Tell your husband that the term “mommy brain” is real.
Impress upon your husband that when you grew his baby inside you, you also grew an area in your brain that instinctively told you what mothering style is best for you and your baby. If you sincerely believe and feel that cosleeping is right for you and baby, then ask your husband to please honor and support that strong maternal instinct.
Show him the science of cosleeping.
Daddy brains are often convinced by the scientific proof of long-term benefits of cosleeping. I still remember one time when Bill and I were giving a talk to a group of parents, many of whom, especially fathers, were in the investment banking field. To get more men to attend, we advertised the talk as “The best long-term investment you can make into your child’s future.”
When the talk opened with the advantages of breastfeeding and cosleeping you could see many of the dads in the audience starting to squirm. Yet, as the talk progressed, they were riveted by the head-to-toe physical, emotional, and intellectual benefits of extended breastfeeding and cosleeping. Many of them came up to us after the talk and thanked us for opening their eyes and minds to the best long-term investment they could give their baby – to support and make cosleeping and breastfeeding easier for mommy.
Instead of feeling left out, the husbands now felt empowered with tools to help cosleeping and breastfeeding be easier on the family, such as:
- Making sure their wife got sufficient rest
- Learning the art of nighttime “father nursing” (which we have talked about in previous Mondays with Martha).
Feeling the personal benefits of seeing their wife be happier because her husband is so supportive.
The most recent summary of the immense medical benefits of cosleeping is the book Safe Infant Sleep – Expert Answers to Your Cosleeping Questions by Dr. James McKenna, published in January 2020. Dr. McKenna is a friend of our family and Bill wrote the foreword for this book. Dr. McKenna founded the mother-baby sleep laboratory at the University of Notre Dame.
Watch your husband’s eyes be wide opened when he reads the research on how much happier, healthier, and smarter babies turn out when parents give them the gift of cosleeping and breastfeeding.
Cosleeping won’t last forever – but the medical benefits will.
Reassure your husband that this is a relatively short time in the relationship of your mother-baby-father triad. The more you invest now the easier life with baby is likely to be later.
I wish you happy cosleeping and a happy relationship with your husband. You and your baby deserve both.
Written by: Martha Sears, R.N.
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter). Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Martha is able to connect with both full-time, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers because she herself has experienced both styles of parenting. Martha takes great pride in referring to herself as a “professional mother” and one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: “The world needs my children.”