Pregnancy and postpartum are very vulnerable times for a women physically, emotionally and spiritually. Many things are amplified as physical and hormone changes impact a woman in sometimes unexpected ways. Then, there is the fact that baby humans, unlike many mammals, exit the womb unable to care for themselves or survive on their own. This lends credence to the concept of the fourth trimester where babies complete initial development and mother heals in the first three months postpartum. This idea helps shape how I care for both my wife and new child. So what is my responsibility as a father during this time?
In addition to understandably carrying a disproportionate balance of household tasks, I believe the father acts as the physical, emotional and spiritual guard for the mother. Our birth instructor called this the soul-guard. I view my responsibility as creating a safe place for her to birth and then recover. It is not to control the decisions for her, far from that. It is to ensure that communication is appropriately gentle and complete so that informed decisions can be made. It is to provide the space for mother and child bonding. It is to provide a safe place for her to emotionally and spiritually unpack and process if she wants. It is to physically care for her as she recovers. Labor and delivery, while natural activities, are traumatic on the body and it needs to heal.
Should a Cesearian Section be performed, elective or medically necessary, the physical trauma is greater. A cesarean section, while not uncommmon in American medicine, is major abdominal surgery. If, as a male, you have ever over-lifted at the gym and developed a hernia, remember that incision through abdominal muscles essentially navel to hip? A cesarean section incision is twice that, hip-bone to hip-bone, and also includes opening and stitching closed internal organs. Imagine recovering from that while breastfeeding, changing diapers, and traveling on an emotional rollar-coaster akin to adolescence on steroids all while having your sleep schedule upended. In that case your sacred duty to care for your injured mate is even greater and the need for patience, love, tenderness and strength is larger.