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How Should Dad Help After C-Section?










QUESTION:

It's been two weeks since the birth (C-section) of my daughter and I need to go back to work.

I am up at night with my partner to care for our daughter and will not be able to function at work. How much longer is my help needed at night post C-section? Is there a way for each of us to get some uninterrupted sleep? What is the role of father 2 weeks after a C-section?




ANSWER:

The goal should be 4 hours of straight sleep for both of you, with you taking a round of feeding, burping, diapering at night so mom can sleep through.

This means that if mom is breastfeeding, the earlier she tries pumping so you can give a bottle the sooner those four-hour shifts can start. If your baby is well established on breastfeeding, suggest the bottle to mom for just one shift at night to minimize any risk of nipple confusion (i.e., your baby likes the easier flowing bottle better than the breast). This is essentially a trade off for mom between sleep and the hassle of a breast pump.

A common observation of dads whose partners' had C-sections is, "I had to do everything for the first ten days". By then mom can get out of bed and move around, and will steadily get back in form - but she's still a new mom, and generally feeling overwhelmed and needing all the help she can get. So the new mom in your life may be reluctant to give up the support you have been providing, and may even feel like your getting the easy end of the deal by "getting" to go back away from the demands of a newborn. At two weeks, a shift is in order though, since you need your sleep to be able to work.

Outside of a night shift on the feeding, you might try sleeping in another room, taking a nap on your lunch break, or going to bed early when possible. Welcome to the crucible of new fatherhood.

The upside of C-sections is that you're heavy involvement with the baby earns you credibility with mom regarding your baby, and later on she will remember you were there for her when it counted. Just remember: creating a family - the basic building block of humanity - is a very big deal.

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