Other Jobs and Responsibilities
Your first responsibilities are to your partner and child. Everything else is a distant third. If you keep this in mind, you will have no trouble figuring out what needs to be done, and in what order, after the birth takes place.
Once the baby is born, the big work is done (at least while mother and child are still in the hospital). You and your partner have successfully completed your mission and can relax. But, in addition to calling friends and relatives, there are some jobs you may be called upon to perform.
Being with the Baby
You may immediately need to start looking out for the welfare of your child, even while he is still in the hospital. In a Cesarean birth, for example, the nurses will take the baby from the operating room after surgery is over. The father's responsibility is to go with his child and be with him while Mom remains behind in the doctors’ hands.
In certain situations there may be fears about the child's health, and medical tests are conducted on these babies after birth. These tests are more sophisticated than the wellness checks conducted in the labor and delivery room, and they may take place in the neonatal intensive care unit. In these cases, if possible, the father should accompany the baby while Mom recovers in her room.
Your partner will naturally be excited after the birth, but she will also be exhausted. Lots of people are going to call and want to talk to her. Still more people are going to want to visit.
One of your biggest jobs will be to serve as gatekeeper. You obviously do not want to act like a bouncer at a nightclub, so just check in with your partner now and then to make sure she is handling everything okay. She won't get the rest she needs if she's entertaining visitors one after the other.
Breastfeeding (discussed more extensively in Chapter 19) usually begins shortly after birth. The nurse or doula places the baby on Mom's breast and begin to teach her how to do it. Despite what many men think, women do not instinctively know how to breastfeed and it can be a very difficult and painful process to learn.
The benefits of breast milk for babies are indisputable. It supplies more than 100 vitamins and nutrients that are not found in infant formula. Studies have shown that children who are breastfed tend to have higher IQs than those who are not. This is partly because of the nutrition these babies receive, but it is also because of the close interaction between mother and child, which encourages brain development.
You and your partner have probably already discussed breastfeeding. If she plans to do it (and most women do, at least initially), your encouragement and support can play a useful role in helping her to get started.