Dear Ovia, I’m responsible for all the infant care

Dear Ovia is an ongoing series where we answer your love and relationship questions. To submit a question, send us a message on Instagram. We answer all questions anonymously.

Dear Ovia, My partner and I generally have a pretty equal relationship/division of labor. Or we did before having a baby. But now all the infant care seems to fall on me and I’m starting to get resentful. Is this just the way it’s going to be?

First off, congratulations! Fourth trimester is such a life-changing time. Some people want to hold on to it fondly while others can’t wait to leave it behind. One of the biggest changes — that takes people by surprise — is how quickly your relationship starts to change. If these changes are making you unhappy or resentful, it is time to speak up!

Some things to consider:

  • Who is on leave from work and how will you split time (if applicable)? Is your partner working and assuming when you go back to work roles will reverse? Or does he assume baby care is your “job” now? Exploring these ideas and the equity you felt you had previously are important! Is there anything you can lift from your pre-baby dynamic and integrate now?
  • Are you breastfeeding? Infant care will more naturally fall on you in this case, and sometimes the work of pumping so that he can feed your baby may not make sense for you. Feeding choices are ever-evolving, so talk about the impact this has on you. Tell him how you’re feeling.
  • Does he attempt to help? This is a big lesson for a lot of people in parenting. If your partner tries to help but doesn’t do it the way you want or the baby cries, etc., you may need to let it go and accept the imperfect. The most important thing right now is that you are able to pass the baton! 

Talking out your need for better division of labor and how things can continue to be more equitable in your eyes is so important. There is absolutely hope! Each phase of this child’s life will be slightly different, so even if infancy still feels tough — there are “easier” ages to share or rely more heavily on your partner. You deserve support, and I think you’ll get there!

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