A short, sharp, rundown of your role at the hospital and in those early days after baby first arrives.
There are some bloody gold threads on Reddit. If you’re not on there already you should seriously check it out. In this post on r/AskMen, a nervous first time dad explains that his wife is having a C-section, and puts the call out to other men who’ve been there to chime in with advice.
The top voted response by redditor ‘handshape’ was so good we just had to share it.
(Note: while he refers specifically to a C-section, most of it also applies to natural birth scenarios).
“Assuming the C-section is being done under local anaesthetic (almost certain), your initial job will be to keep your wife calm.
You will specifically not want to draw attention to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre happening south of the border.
You will need to reassure her that everything is fine with the baby, and help with the nasty if/when she vomits during the procedure.
You will likely be given the task of cutting the umbilical cord: It’s tougher than it looks.
After the child is born, there will be a brief period when the child is being transferred to neonatal and your wife is getting stapled/zipped/welded closed:
This is where you call the friend you have on standby and tell them your kid’s level 0 stats: time of birth, weight, gender, name, and so on.
Your friend will take care of distributing this to everyone that cares, and a few more.
Your friends and family will be somewhere else, breathing sighs of relief, celebrating and pouring, eating, or lighting up various substances.
They will be doing this without you, because you get to do something way better…
“As soon as they will let you, go to the neonatal unit.
Ask if you can do the first feeding, and the skin-to-skin warming (it beats the hell out of the McDonald’s heat lamps).
Give yourself at least an hour with the new kid. Sit with them. Talk to them. Above all else, smell them.
At the risk of over-hyping it, that hour will blow your mind.
Later, they’ll bring the baby to your wife.
She will want to inspect the baby, to the point of counting fingers and toes — this is primal, natural, and totally not insane.
Kiss your wife, and the baby, and leave them alone together while you stay nearby.
Your job here is to help your wife relax.
A big part of learning the letting-down reflex (ie. boobie-nom-noms) for women is feeling safe and relaxed, and you help with this by helping her know that she and the baby are safe.
Faster than you’ll think possible, family and friends will descend on the room, demanding to see, cuddle, anoint, and fondle your child.
Your wife is tired. The baby is tired. Neither is up for a party — this is when you get to put on your best Samuel L. Jackson face. (Say “just five more minutes” again motherfucker! I dare you! I double dare you!)
“Eventually, you will fill out some paperwork and take the baby home. Thus will begin likely the longest period of sleepless nights of your life.
Again, your job is to keep your wife and child sane.
Alternate feedings. Sleep whenever and wherever you can. Accept that you’ll need to cut corners in household upkeep. Accept help from friends and family — you are going to need it.
Be prepared to spend quite some time with Mrs. Palm and her five sisters: your wife will not be in the mood for quite some time.
Above all — don’t let anybody try to tell you that “you owe them”, or use the child against you.
You’re not just a husband any more, you’re a father too. Hang on for the ride.
Oh, and one more thing: Never, ever, no matter how tempted you are, make the Han Solo-lightsaber-tauntaun joke when the doctor is making the primary incision.”
Read the rest of the responses on Reddit here, or add your own insights in the comments below.