The onslaught of “first” experiences that came with having a baby would've completely overwhelmed my husband and me, had we not adopted the “one thing at a time” mantra. We were meticulous about planning and preparing for our first child, but we tried to be logical about it, like not registering for every single piece of baby gear on one day. But there was one thing I felt we couldn’t over-prepare for, and that was what my partner would do for my first postpartum meal. For nine months I watched what I ate and drank in the hopes of optimizing the health of our child upon its birth. That meant giving up sushi, deli meat, alcohol, and so much cheese.
While I never think moms can "have it all," I was throwing away that pretense when it came to my first postpartum meal. I was going to have it all. And I wouldn’t have to worry about suffering any heartburn, or feeling too full because my occupied uterus was pressing against my stomach. I was going to eat like no one was watching.
My husband knew in advance of the big day what I expected of him in terms of procuring this most special meal. He understood the seriousness of the task at hand. And I would remember if he triumphed, or if he failed (and yes, I would hold it against him forever, because food grudges are the most severe grudges in a marriage… besides money and fidelity and maybe a few other things).
Here are some things every grown-ass man does for his partner’s first postpartum meal, if he understands what’s at stake (and “steak”).
Foresight is admirable. Your baby mama has made sure to take great care of herself and read everything there is on newborn care, so the least you can do is put in the effort and anticipate what her needs. If you helped pack the hospital bag (and remembered to take it with you), that’s great, but we’re not giving out awards for that. Ask ahead of time what she might like to eat as her first postpartum meal, and she’ll feel like she, and the new baby, will be in good hands.
Although I might have mentioned wanting Chinese food as my first postpartum meal, that is not what I was craving on the actual day of delivery. I wanted messy, cheesy, saucy Italian food that belied every formerly kid-free foodie instinct.
So while it’s a good idea for the new dad to know what the new mom want to eat, it is her prerogative to change her mind. A lot.
Even if it’s an inconvenience to track down spicy tuna rolls, don’t let on. The least anyone can do for this woman who just gave birth is get her something to eat that she will enjoy. After suffering through some very unenjoyable sensations getting the baby out of her, and knowing that the healing process after giving birth is no fun either, please do everything you can to give her happiness in a take-out container.
This woman just brought a baby she had grown inside of her, into the world. There is nothing you won’t do for her, including bringing her the meal her heart most desires at that moment, even if she might be totally asleep by the time you get back with it.
I can’t remember how long it took for my husband to return with my eggplant parmigiana hero, but it was definitely within reason. He was lucky because the neighborhood where the hospital was located was teeming with restaurants that were used to cranking out take-out orders.
With our second child, he was off the hook because our son was delivered around 9:30 in the morning, and I was served breakfast by the hospital staff not too long after I was settled into the recovery room. For hospital food, it wasn't terrible. Also, I had taken a little Percocet for the postpartum contractions that were ravaging me, so I was feeling nice.
I am always amazed at how few napkins the guys I’m eating with feel they need. They never seem to remember that food is messy. I have been overcompensating my whole life, and every bag I own is stuffed with wads of paper towels.
So impress your heroic partner by remembering the napkins. Especially if you came through with that saucy eggplant parmigiana.
Do whatever it takes, dude. Ask for extra pillows to help her sit up, make sure the food has something sturdy to rest on, and move the blankets out of the way to avoid stains. Eating in my hospital bed definitely didn’t feel like a decadent way to bed, so anything a new dad can do to help the setting feel less clinical would be appreciated.
I don’t remember drinking anything other than water, but if she’s craving something else, be prepared to procure it. She may have been dreaming about those kimchee dumplings, but she probably forgot how thirsty they were going to make her. Don’t let her down in her hour of thirst.
While it may seem fair to ask for some of what she’s having, given that she’s helped herself to your plate at many points during her pregnancy, none of that postpartum meal is for you. Even if the portion size would feed an army, don’t assume she’s in the mood for sharing. Also, you can go get whatever you want, whenever you want. She’ll be tied up with a newborn for the next 48 hours until she’s released from the hospital, so let her be greedy with the sandwich.
There may be visitors so tidy up after she’s done eating. You don’t want any spaghetti splotches stealing the spotlight from her beaming face in those “first new mom” pics everyone will be snapping.
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