The role of the partner is fundamental for the serenity of the new mother and baby, but once the baby is born, the father can feel excluded from the special relationship that is established between the mother and the baby.
Although both of them have greatly desired the arrival of a child, mum and dad have different feelings about the birth of the baby: the woman, having lived intensely the expectation of the child both psychologically and physically, instinctively establishes a relationship of complicity with the newborn. In the father instead, despite having participated in the courses and the birth itself, after the birth of the child may occur a sense of detachment from the child and exclusion from the mother-child relationship. All this is normal, as the man is physically excluded from the pregnancy and the arrival of the baby can somehow disappoint his expectations: the newborn seems to want only the proximity of the mother, source of nourishment and pampering. In the new father, jealousy and frustration are therefore very widespread sensations, but they are destined to disappear with time.
Why does the baby only look for his mother?
The arrival of a child is for new parents the beginning of a new life, enriched with new sensations. Although both mother and father are enthusiastic about the birth of their baby and are ready to take care of it, there is a marked division of roles. In fact, it is the mother in this initial phase who is the center of the new family, because it is with her that the baby establishes an exclusive relationship, which began when the baby was in the belly.
The symbiotic relationship that is established between the mother and her child draws its origin from gestation and lasts once the baby is born. In fact, the mother represents the primary source of nourishment and satisfaction for the baby: by breastfeeding, the new mother satisfies the main needs of the newborn baby, because it nourishes him and, through sucking, relaxes him and gives him pleasant sensations. The baby thus identifies the mother as an irreplaceable good and intensely desires contact with her. Once the baby is born, the new mother is naturally more receptive to the needs of the baby and is more relaxed with the newborn. All this is due not only to an instinctive factor, but also to the fact that the new mother generally spends a lot of time with the baby, while the father is busy with work.
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The sensations of the new father
Fathers are usually euphoric after the birth of their baby and witness the magic of the mother-son relationship with amazement and admiration. But it is precisely this feeling of being a “spectator” that gives rise to a certain frustration and a sense of exclusion. Moreover, spending little time with the newborn because of work commitments, the new father feels more awkward in taking the baby in his arms or changing his diaper and finds himself weighed down in front of the sudden cries of the newborn. It is normal for the father to be jealous of the child: a symbiosis relationship is established between mother and baby, from which the father is naturally excluded. If the mother breast-feeds, the father can see the baby as an “intruder”: the breast is no longer an exclusive area linked to the intimate sphere between the partners, but is now available for the complete nourishment of the baby.
A fundamental figure
The figure of the father is essential for the healthy psychological development of the child. So, even if at the beginning the father feels in second place to the mother, he must remain calm and accept this phase: with time the child will become as attached to the father as to the mother.
It is a practical and psychological aid for the mother. The father can concretely help the new mother in the care of the child and in the management of the house. For the woman it is very important to know that she can count on her partner and having a point of reference is fundamental for her serenity. It is essential that there is an accomplice dialogue between the new parents, to tell each other the feelings they feel and the doubts that may arise.
He is an important reference figure for the psychological development of the baby. The presence of the father figure is fundamental in the family, to avoid the creation of a morbid relationship between mother and baby. The father “breaks up” and enlivens the mother-son dyad, offering also to the mother the possibility to feel not only mother, but giving them more completeness. From 3 to 6 years of age, the child goes through the delicate phase of sexual identification, during which the role of the father is essential. In fact, subtle balances are established by virtue of which the boy becomes infatuated with the mother and identifies with the father, vice versa the little girl becomes infatuated with the father identifying with the mother: on this side the development of the child’s sexual identity. Moreover, a sort of competition is created between the son and the father towards the mother (vice versa for the girls): all this is absolutely normal and important for the psychological development of the son as an individual.
The relationship between father and son grows with time
The daddy gets infatuated at the moment of his little one and it’s a real lightning strike. Since the child does not immediately correspond to this feeling because at the beginning for the newborn is essential only the mother figure, the fall in love with the father is diminishing and the father feels a sense of detachment until he sees the child as a “stranger”. The feeling of love for the baby will gradually grow stronger with time and the complicity between father and son will cement thanks to moments and experiences lived together. For the mother, falling in love with the child is instinctual, for the father it is based instead on cognitive-behavioural factors.
How to behave
Feeding, changing, pampering and being with the child: this is what daddy should do, even if he does not feel gratified by the child’s behaviour. He must accept the idea that feelings of exclusion and detachment belong to a temporary and completely natural phase. Time plays in favour of the father: with the passing of the months between father and son relationship of complicity and mutual sympathy is established.
The father must not make jealousy scenes to the mother, accusing her of not caring for him anymore. The mother, on the other hand, must involve the partner as much as possible in the care of the child and play down the behaviour of the “jealous” father.
The father must rationalize his feelings of exclusion by accepting this situation and trusting the little one, who will be able to reward with time the affection of the father.
Moreover, it is important that mum and dad learn to distinguish their roles, feeling like parents but also accomplices partners. After the birth of the baby, it is therefore advisable for the new parents to take possession of their intimate sphere.
If the mother does not breastfeed, it is not necessarily easier for the father to overcome the sense of exclusion due to the relationship between mother and child. Even if the father takes care of the baby by offering him the bottle at meals, the baby is still instinctively oriented to look for and look for the mother. In this way, the father may feel even more frustrated, because he does not perceive an affective response from the baby.