Why We Need Paid Paternity Leave For All New Fathers


When my daughter was a newborn, she lived for her 3 a.m. feedings. She’d wake up, gently cooing, letting me know she was hungry and ready to nurse. After breastfeeding for about 30-40 minutes, she’d pull away, ready to be burped and put back to sleep.

Only she wouldn’t go back to sleep.

This is not unheard of. Most new parents deal with this and it is the prime reason why so many are sleep-deprived those first few years months.

Like a lot of mothers with a live-in partner, I struggled in the wee hours of the morning by myself, determined to let my husband sleep since he had to go to work in the morning, as I somehow determined his paid work needed more focus and energy than my work with our beautiful baby.

But after about a month of struggling, I was driving myself to the point of tears because my daughter just got fussier and fussier the more I tried to do anything. I’d rock her, swaddle her, sing softly to her, rub her back, etc. Nothing ever worked. I’d be up until she finally wore herself out around 7 a.m.

Finally, out of frustration, I left our daughter’s room and gently placed our daughter on my husband’s stomach. “Hey, dude,” I said, nudging him. “I need you to make her sleep. I’m tired and I can’t do this every night.”

I got in the bed and pulled the covers over my head. Of course, I didn’t go to sleep immediately because I wanted to see how he did. He didn’t even open his eyes, just put his hands on her back and rubbed her softly.

They were both asleep within five minutes. I know because I timed it.

And the next night, I handed my daughter over to my husband after her 3 a.m. feeding and guess what? Five minutes later, she was asleep.

My whole “Oh, I’ll let him rest” reasoning cost me hours upon hours of sleep, in the days where I really needed it. There is nothing easy about being a student-parent, especially when your child is a newborn. I did not place us on equal footing, and I wondered why.

Why did I think he should get more rest than I did, especially in those early weeks when I was recovering from my C-section? Why was I sacrificing in my new role so he wouldn’t have to?

As I was a student at the time, I didn’t have to “worry” about maternity leave, since I gave birth right before finals and winter break. Those four weeks would have to suffice. My husband took off a week from work, using his vacation time. The only reason was because our daughter spent a few unexpected days in the ICU; otherwise he would have been back at work at approximately three days postpartum.

I had so much resentment during those early months (let’s be honest – years!) due to the fact that I felt my life had been completely flipped upside down by the arrival of our children, while, to my viewpoint, it seemed my husband’s day-to-day life had remained relatively unchanged. Spending time together in those early weeks, bonding as a couple, would done wonders for us and eliminated those bumps in our relationship that left me wondering if we were going to make it.

I now realize that establishing equality in parenthood starts during maternity leave. When the mother is at home all day, learning how to take care of the newest member of the family and the father is someplace else, it allows for the mother to develop habits and create a system for how things should go. Then when the dad comes home, he’s out of place. He’s learning from the mom how to do things, when it would be great if he could be part of the process from day one.

I know a lot of moms, sleepy and ready for relief during those 3 a.m. feedings, would surely agree.

What do you think about paid parental leave, available to all who need/want it? How much time off did your partner take? 


  1. alexa.com says:


    Why We Need Paid Paternity Leave For All New Fathers – The Young Mommy Life…