Baby on the way.
September 11, 2012 11:43 AM   Subscribe

The baby comes tomorrow!

First baby. I've read three books. I've gone to the birthing classes (including breast feeding). I *feel* prepared, but I know better. My wife is scheduled to be induced tomorrow. What last minute parenting/hospital advice do you have for a new dad? Thank you!
posted by gocubbies to Human Relations (42 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Sleep when the baby sleeps. Clean when the baby cleans.
posted by escabeche at 11:46 AM on September 11, 2012 [47 favorites]

Stay calm. Don't panic. Hundreds of billions of people have done this before you, mostly with far less preparation.
posted by ubiquity at 11:46 AM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

There are plenty of people there to take care of the baby. Your job is to take care of your partner. Be her advocate in the hospital.

However many burp cloths you have, buy more.
posted by mkultra at 11:51 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Be prepared to freak out and stay freaked out for about 3 months.

Also, no matter how weird you feel, how out of it, how sleep deprived, please remember that your wife has all of that, plus she pushed an entire human out of her AND her hormones are a mess.

Be nice to her, and if she's snappish, don't take it personally, she's been through something.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:53 AM on September 11, 2012 [9 favorites]

Also, previously.
posted by mkultra at 11:55 AM on September 11, 2012

The nurses are your friends, your support system and most importantly, the user manuals for new babies. Use them to get information on feeding routines, breastfeeding and basic newborn care.

Bring a boppy pillow or something similar to the hospital to assist with breastfeeding. I was stuck with some ridiculous pillow contortion game and it really turned me off to BF.

Have someone takes photographs right AFTER the baby is born. You will be so caught up in the moment, you won't have the presence of mind to do it. To this day, I have no idea who took the photos of baby on my chest, but I treasure them.
posted by Leezie at 12:03 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Induced labor can be harder to deal with than labor that begins on its own. Support your wife in whatever she wants during labor, be your kindest most loving self. When she and the baby come home take over all of the housekeeping chores she usually did, or pay someone to do them for at least the first two months. Get up with the baby for night feedings, and change her/his diaper. If your wife is breastfeeding hand the clean baby to her and then get her a cup of tea, a glass of milk, whatever she wants. If she is not breastfeeding give the baby a bottle and let mom sleep.
posted by mareli at 12:06 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Be prepared to freak out and stay freaked out for about 3 months.

Yup. For me it was two weeks where I just COULDN'T relax. It passed. So will yours.

Remember that every baby/child/person is different, often for mysterious reasons. Be flexible and enjoy getting to know your kid.
posted by selfnoise at 12:07 PM on September 11, 2012

There's a whole industry set around driving parents into a panic and convincing them if they make one teensy mistake, their child will be irrevocably scarred, completely illiterate, and totally unemployable. It's usually not true and they're usually trying to sell you something. If you find you're muddling through something and doing your best, so did most everyone in all of human history. You're fine.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:09 PM on September 11, 2012 [12 favorites]

Knowing what I know now, if my wife were being induced with our first child tomorrow, I would get together with some guy friends tonight and drink a bunch of beer and watch a baseball game and toast to a new life where that won't be possible for about 12 years.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:11 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

People took care of babies for thousands of years without books. Just do what comes naturally to you and let your instincts guide you. You will be nervous at first, but you'll soon get used to your new responsibility and you'll be just fine. You are in for a giant treat. Have fun!
posted by Dansaman at 12:13 PM on September 11, 2012

Remember YMBV: Your Baby May Vary. What worked for someone else's baby may not work for yours; what other babies hated, yours may love; some babies start doing things at 3 months, others at 9, or whenever.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by mogget at 12:17 PM on September 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

Send the baby to the nursery if necessary.

The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be very frustrating while baby and mom get to know each other and learn how to eat/feed. Be patient with each other, don't despair, and use a lactation consultant if necessary.

If you haven't already, watch the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD.

Be kind to each other.
posted by semacd at 12:19 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do not ask your wife, during labor, "are you okay". Instead, offer to do specific things that might help. "Wife, would you like me to rub your back?" "Would you like some ice chips?"

If she's the type who would find those suggestions annoying, just ask her what you can do.

The problem with asking "are you okay" repeatedly is that eventually she'll think you think she is not, in fact, okay for some reason. And really, until she isn't okay, she is OKAY, even if she isn't having fun, exactly. You know?
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:26 PM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Knowing what I know now, if my wife were being induced with our first child tomorrow, I would get together with some guy friends tonight and drink a bunch of beer and watch a baseball game and toast to a new life where that won't be possible for about 12 years.

Don't do this. Spend time with your wife tonight.
posted by amro at 12:28 PM on September 11, 2012 [33 favorites]

Your wife can finally eat sushi without fear, this calls for some sushi (if she likes that kind of thing).

A bit more seriously, don't leave the hospital until the nurses can confirm that the baby is latching properly and is getting milk from your wife.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:30 PM on September 11, 2012

Do not be afraid to say no to any individual who pushes to intrude during a time when it is inconvenient for you or your wife. They will get over it.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 12:37 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wow, I did this a year ago (induction and all!) so it's pretty fresh:

- Nth what the others said: you'll be freaked out and that's OK!
- Take a laptop with you to the hospital. My wife's labor/induction lasted 72 hours and watching Netflix kept us sane.
- Bring the absolute comfiest clothes you have. Dress in layers.
- Bring a cellphone charger.
- Be patient. Be patient. Be patient. Be patient. Also, be patient. And understanding. The nurses and your wife will love you.
- Heap all kinds of thanks on your nurse. If it's a long labor, you will see them. A lot.

- You know how you wake up in the middle of the night to go pee, and you just go do it, because that's what you're bodies telling you to do? Well, that's what it's like to change a diaper(s) in the middle of the night. You just do it without thinking. It's not so bad.
- Be super available to your wife as she adjusts to breastfeeding.
- This goes for hospital, too, but don't be afraid to set firm boundaries with friends/family. They mean well, but can also be overwhelming. Now is the time to speak you're mind if you don't feel like seeing them.
- Conversely, don't be afraid to go out! Protip: people fucking love babies. Period. I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed talking to complete strangers who wanted to admire my daughter and give well-wishes to my wife and I. It's been a real joy and has restored my faith that people are pretty good.

Anyway, those are the big ones. If you want to talk more in depth, feel free to MeMail!
posted by Tevin at 12:42 PM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Conversely, don't be afraid to go out! Protip: people fucking love babies. Period. I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed talking to complete strangers who wanted to admire my daughter and give well-wishes to my wife and I. It's been a real joy and has restored my faith that people are pretty good.

Yes! We are finding this to be so true.

If I were in your shoes, I would do one last grocery shopping trip to load up on every frozen and non-perishable food item I could think of, so the house would be loaded when I came home.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:44 PM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

The Quick and Dirty on Sleep
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:44 PM on September 11, 2012

Accept help unabashedly in the next few months. You are in survival mode.

Keep hydrated/fed tomorrow. You need to be strong for your wife.

Don't be afraid to ask for an hour to make a decision tomorrow. If it's a real emergency, the doctors will say no. Otherwise you'll have time to think through options and consequences and ask follow up questions if necessary.

It very well may not be "the best day of [your] life" and that's ok. My husband says it was one of the worst days of his life because we were exhausted and scared and he had to almost helplessly watch me be in intense pain for hours. And then the next few weeks will likely be very, very hard. Your wife will go through a huge hormonal transition and will be recovering from a major medical event. You'll both be exhausted. There will be huge excitement from finally having the baby, but the real rewards of parenting don't start for a few weeks. It will be glorious, but maybe not right away.

If you can join support groups with other new parents, do it.
posted by semacd at 12:46 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

The quick and dirty on "The Quick and Dirty on Sleep": Do whatever works for your family. There is no one right method for baby's sleep.

Also, what TPS said: have lots of easy food. Freeze some cookie dough.
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:47 PM on September 11, 2012

Make sure the camera battery is charged and there's lots of room on the memory card.

posted by thirteenkiller at 12:50 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Make sure your wife gets some sleep in the hospital. It is okay to send the baby to the nursery. You two will have plenty of nights to take care of the baby. Let the professionals handle it for a night or two and let her recover from the labor. The nurses can bring the baby back for feedings.
posted by Area Man at 1:15 PM on September 11, 2012

Follow your wife's cues about staying in the hospital with you after the delivery. On our first my wife told me to go home and get some sleep, but I could tell she was scared. I should have stayed the night by her side. Definitely stick around the first night.

If she's still there on the second night and is more relaxed and sends you home, decorate the house a little for the "homecoming". It's a nice surprise she'll enjoy. I couldn't find any "welcome home" banners at 2am so I bought some streamers and a "Happy birthday!" sign. Close enough. =)
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:18 PM on September 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

Knowing what I know now, if my wife were being induced with our first child tomorrow, I would get together with some guy friends tonight and drink a bunch of beer and watch a baseball game and toast to a new life where that won't be possible for about 12 years.

This is unequivocally Not True, unless your partner is the kind of person who doesn't value you having your own life separate from her and your child.

It may, however, take some time before the two of you are comfortable in your roles as parents to be able to go out without the baby or without each other and the baby. That's okay. You're both going to be ridiculously tired in the first few weeks (maybe months, YBMV) and going out may be the last thing you want.

But when you feel like you've got a handle on things, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. Together, separately, with friends, without friends, to go to a baseball game, to go to the museum, to just hang out and be Without The Baby. You do not have to wait years to do this.

Remember: you have your child in your house full-time for a very, very short 18 years (my oldest is nearly 16; ask me how fast the years went by). Hopefully, you'll have each other in your house full-time for the rest of your lives. Nourish your marriage and don't lose yourselves in your child.

Good luck and congratulations!
posted by cooker girl at 1:23 PM on September 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

Definitely seconding to have someone designated to take pictures as soon as the baby is born.

Your wife may have a hormone storm 3 days after the baby is born, as all the pregnancy hormones crash and the milk comes in. I was not prepared for what a blubbering mess this made me, and how it felt like the world was going to end. Expect it and support your wife as well as you can through it.

If she has a long labor, she is going to be exhaused and sleep-deprived, and this has an effect on memory. Make sure you're there for all meetings with doctors, nurses, lactation consultants, etc. so you can remember things for her. Things like follow-up appointments, advice on nursing, etc. Write things down if possible, since you might be sleep-deprived too.

It's really not that bad if you're both taking time off work after the birth. I kind of liked the nesting and getting-to-know-baby newborn phase, especially once I caught up on sleep! Have fun.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:33 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have an 8 week old, and what I've really valued most from labour to now is good healthy food, doing something baby-free and a shower every day. If you can give your wife time - time to eat, time to shower, time to do something with both arms free, it might help keep any exhaustion-related tension to a minimum. Also, like in the first trimester, keep doing those extra chores, especially if she's breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding can be hard. That's normal. Pay attention to everything the lactation consultation says, because your lady might be too tired to remember everything. I would NOT have got through the first two weeks if it hadn't been for my husband helping me position everything right and coming up with the idea of sticking a washcloth under my boob for support. Now I feel like I should be able to get to my goal of a year - previously I was considering giving it up at 6 weeks.

I also recommend keeping a notebook to hand to write down the feeds/naps/dirty diaper count. In a month's time you'll look back and it will be clear that the challenge of keeping up with the kid is getting easier and that you won't be trapped in a cycle of cluster feeding, no sleep and poop forever.

Co-sleeping made it all much easier too, especially for feeding the baby at night. I put the baby down in a sidecar bassinet (the Arm's Reach brand is great) first thing at night and when he wakes up at 3/4am, pop him right next to me, give him the boob and go back to sleep. There are obviously safety issues so YMMV, especially if it's colder where you live and you need more blankets on the bed than we do in SoCal. But it's worked great for me, and I'd recommend at least trying this for afternoon naps where someone else in a conscious state can check the baby is safe.

Also babywearing. Mobywrap, Ergo, a ring sling - find something you're comfortable wearing the baby in. Sometimes that's the only thing that gets my baby to sleep and they are worth every penny. My husband likes the Beco Gemini (it has robots!), I prefer the Mobywrap right now, but whatever works to keep the baby close and happy really. You can get a lot of them used on eBay if you have a tight budget.

Lastly: you'll be great! It sounds like you've done a lot of prep work and that will save you a lot of time over the next few months. Good luck!
posted by saturnine at 1:52 PM on September 11, 2012

I have a four month old. My labor advice is to take cues from your wife. Our birthing class had a checklist of what the partner should do during labor. My husband quickly realized that none of those activities would have been a good idea (e.g., "get close to her face," "tell her to breathe") as I just wanted to be left alone. He felt a bit useless, but his not helping was the best thing that he could have done.

Also, I know that rooming in is recommended for breastfeeding, but I really appreciated having the baby in the nursery the first night. The hospital staff woke us when the baby was hungry. And as I've come to discover that babies are weirdly loud sleepers, having a night of quiet was extremely beneficial.
posted by statsgirl at 2:14 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ask Moxie is frequently excellent, but this in particular is a must read. It's focused on motherhood but can apply to parenting in general (to a certain degree). It's not any specific advice, just a perspective.
posted by peep at 2:26 PM on September 11, 2012

2nding "don't ask her if she's OK" and adding "tell her she's OK, she's doing great." Remember that in this, unlike any other partnership event, she who is pushing the 7-lb human out of her vagina, wins. Epidural? Awesome. Go fuck yourself? Awesome. Mother in law banned from room? Awesome. Full caff double mocha latte from 12 miles away? Awesome.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:13 PM on September 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

Make bathtime your job. Trust me on this. It's the best.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 3:33 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

the drive home....Relax, try and go the speed limit. Quit looking in the rear view mirror.
posted by couchdive at 4:48 PM on September 11, 2012

I know this will sound odd, but: Know that you will blink, and your baby girl/boy will be 15... Or 18... Or 25. So savor every minute. It goes by fast.
posted by ecorrocio at 5:25 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I second making bathtime your time. It's a nice break for mom and a chance for you to bond with baby. Keep in mind too that if your wife is being induced, things might happen like a runaway freight train once stuff kicks in. I went from zero to eight cm dilated in about half an hour. There would have been no epidural for me had the anesthesiologist not been right there (and though I was indifferent to the idea of drugs pre-labour, I was perfectly willing to sell my soul for whatever they could pump into me once things suddenly got rolling--back labour is a BITCH).

I had sushi in the hospital post delivery. Washed down with a cold beer. Yummmmm. And don't forget to get the newspaper from the day your wee one makes an entrance. You will be absolutely fine. Just remember, if the baby is still alive at the end of each day, you are doing great!
posted by Go Banana at 5:50 PM on September 11, 2012

1) Talk to your wife now about if/when you will leave the hospital. I was totally fine with my husband ducking out for an hour or so to go home and shower. Your wife may or may not be, and it's probably a good idea to get her thoughts now.

2) Get as much sleep as possible in the hospital. Have the baby sleep in the nursery for a while. The nurses will constantly be visiting your wife and your baby, so try to get them to line up their visits.

3) When you get home, keep a close eye on your wife and her emotions. Take some time at your pediatrician visits to talk with the doctor about what's going on with your wife if you think she needs help. At those very early visits your wife and your baby are basically still the same person, and your pediatrician will be able to help, or find you help.

4) Never let your wife be more than 2 feet from a glass of ice water. Take that hospital cup home, it is perfect.
posted by that's how you get ants at 6:21 PM on September 11, 2012

Babies aren't as breakable as you think. Relax.
posted by Silvertree at 6:35 PM on September 11, 2012

1) Make sure you know what your wife's wishes are regarding the delivery/care/ etc. Ask her if she wants you to help her stick to those wishes.
2) Accept help when offered. If you are offered meals, this will take a huge burden off of the two of you. Accept gifts of diaper services, housecleaning... whatever. A baby takes a huge toll on time and on your wife's ability to get things done.
3) Watch your wife and be prepared to support her if she gets depressed or has something akin to PTSD as my wife did after a natural (ie no C-section) birth. Apparently, it's more painful than men can ever imagine.
posted by brownrd at 6:55 PM on September 11, 2012

Don't knock yourself for being panicked and over-protective and tense for the first few months. I felt like I was being crazy until my husband pointed out that helpless infants do need hovering attentive parents. You will calm down fairly fast, but that need to make sure the baby is breathing in the middle of the night or to record every feed and diaper change? Totally within normal range.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:59 PM on September 11, 2012

As a guy who was never in to kids and generally viewed them as some kind of human/alien hybrid, I was amazed at how natural parenting my own child came. So much so that I went ahead and had a second one.

As everyone else has mentioned, being supportive and encouraging ('You're doing great','You look awesome') to your wife is probably the most important thing you can do.

In terms of baby books and the like, just remember that they're written from the authors' experiences with sub-sets of the total population of babies. If you're into statistics then the authors are writing xbar books (an estimate of the population's average based on the sample) and calling it mu (the actual population average). If you're not, then picture a book about NY Yankee pitchers from the last ten years being used to explain the qualities of all pitchers that ever existed or will ever exist (including little league and city league). So, if it's a question of your instinct versus some book, go with your gut.
posted by highway40 at 7:22 PM on September 11, 2012

Go give your wife a cuddle and a hug. She is probably just as scared shitless as you are.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:50 PM on September 11, 2012

Just follow the above advice to be yourself, listen to your gut - mammals have been rearing babies for a long time. Foster an environment of patience for all of you, human neonates probably really need another 2-3 months in the oven. The medical staff really does want to be a player on your team - you have the same goals - healthy tiny human! Just know though... we are in a phase right now where our children loooooooove to hear Daddy tell the story of the " The Day You Were Born". They beg to hear it at bedtime several times a week. Enjoy !!
posted by slothhog at 10:34 PM on September 11, 2012

« Older Baby coming soon! Party?   |   That beautiful room? It's for you. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.