Remember those old cartoons depicting new fathers smoking stogies and celebrating with their buddies as they might if their football team were to win the Super Bowl? How about the cartoons showing new fathers hustling and sweating as they scramble to give their wives the loving care and attention they so deserve?
What's that? You don't remember that second batch? Well, too bad. Fathers, once the baby is delivered, it's your turn to pull extra weight. Show your wife how much you love her and appreciate all that she's gone through during the recent months. Here's how.
- Get paternity leave. It's common these days for men to take paternity leave from work. Make sure you get some time off to support her. Take as much time as possible; your wife will certainly appreciate it.
- Make sure she has whatever food she wants to eat. Think of her favorite dinners - are there any that you can cook? Pick a few and make extras, so that you can serve leftovers and maximize your efforts.
- Support her efforts to lose weight. Sometimes it is difficult for a new mother to lose some of the weight she put on during pregnancy. Let her know that you're noticing the fruits of her efforts. Help her recognize how attractive she is to you. At the same time, be sensitive to the difficulty of weight loss; it may mean that you have to alter your normal diet as well.
- Change baby's diapers at night. Consider it payback for all of those morning-sickness episodes you never had!
- Ask her how she's doing. A no-brainer, but it can lead you to discover what kind of support she needs. Does she want to talk? Does she need some quiet time to herself?
- All the little things. You should offer to make those trips to the store. You should do all the housecleaning and laundry.
- Shower her with small, thoughtful gifts. Be romantic and express your love. If your wife likes flowers, buy her a fragrant bouquet. If she enjoys a luxurious bubble bath, then go buy some wonderful bubble soap, set up some candles and put on some relaxing music for her.
- 'Baby blues.' The days and weeks following birth are emotionally and physically challenging for mothers. Women often become moody, restless at night, nervous and even uninterested in eating. You must be there to offer support, reassurance, encouragement and love. In addition to the support described previously, you can help by encouraging her to talk about her feelings with you and her friends who have been through pregnancy in the past. Encourage her to socialize, whether that means hanging out with friends or even just going with you to the store or the park. And in this time of enormous change, try to keep every other aspect of life as close to normal as possible.
If she seems to be struggling without improvement for more than a week, consult her doctor and research local support groups for new mothers.
Both you and your wife should be able to one day recall this exciting time with the fondness and warmth it warrants. Help create a comforting and supportive home environment for the new mother in your life!