No matter how you go about it, birth is never a cakewalk. But as someone who has experienced two different modes of baby expulsion— surgically and "the old fashioned way" respectively — I will say there is a unique set of challenges that go along with having a C-section. In times such as these, having a loving, compassionate partner by your side can make the difference between a terrible recovery and a positive one, and the things grown-ass men say after their partner has a C-section are a big part of a good (or at least less terrible) experience.
And so this is for you, gentlemen whose partners have just had (or are going to have) a C-section — we know you are up to this task. And if you're not... well, congrats, you've found a handy dandy guide in this article to make you ready.
In all actuality, the task you face is pretty simple: be supportive, be proactive, and be ready to work like you've never worked before. This is basically the short version for all new fathers, but the ways it's true for dads whose babies were delivered via C-section shows itself in some particular ways. Because your partner is going to be facing different physical (and, quite possibly, psychological) challenges as a result of her surgery.
But you can do it. You're a grown-ass man! And here's some helpful phrases to keep in your back pocket.
"You Are Amazing"
However your partner feels about her C-section, this is a nice (and true!) thing to say, but it's especially useful if she didn't see this C-section coming and might feel like a "birth failure." Obviously she's not, but this is not uncommon among C-section moms. As such, a well-placed declaration of awe is thoughtful, helpful, and appreciated.
"I'm So Proud Of You"
And you should be! Your lady just had a baby cut out of her and lived to tell the tale. That's astounding! It's a marvel! You should all be proud! Also, this C-section marks the conclusion of a gestation that took the better half of a year! Your partner baked a human! You should let her know just how brimming with pride you are in this tremendous accomplishment!
"Your Feelings Are Valid"
There are as many ways to feel about having a C-section as there are people who have them. One might be stoked, disappointed, crushed, elated, proud, ashamed, depressed, grateful... I could go on all day, but I feel like you probably get the idea. As a grown-ass man, it is part of your job to let your partner know that she is amazing and you're proud and however she's feeling is an OK way to feel and you are there to talk with her about any and all of her feelings.
"It's Time To Take Your Meds"
C-sections may be common (making up approximately a third of all births in the United States) but they're still major surgery. And major surgery requires major pain management. If I could give all C-section moms one piece of advice it would be to keep ahead of the pain. Obviously only take medications as directed, but take them. Take them on a schedule, alternate the heavy stuff with compatible over-the-counter painkillers, and don't try to be a hero.
Grown-ass man, help your lady do this. She has a lot to deal with, too, and she's going to be better equipped to deal with it if she's not in agony.
"Do You Want To Go For A Walk"
So, my first piece of advice to C-section moms is to mind your meds. My second piece of advice is to walk at least a little bit every day. The more you move the better you'll feel. Grown-ass man, you need not be a tough personal trainer about this. If your partner says, "No, really, I'm not feeling so great, I just want to sit down right now," don't push the issue or argue. But an occasional reminder that it might be a good idea to take a walk together is helpful. It's also a nice family bonding moment.
"Let Me Get That For You"
You're going to need to do a lot of the heavy lifting for a while, grown-ass man... and I mean that literally. Your partner's mobility is limited and even if she technically can muscle through some tasks, she shouldn't do them. That includes picking up heavy objects (including older children); reaching too high (like when you put dishes away); vacuuming, mopping and sweeping; and a number of other household tasks you've both long taken for granted. Right now, her job is to take care of the baby and heal. Your job is being proactive about just about everything else.
"Here's Another Pillow"
Pillows are really useful when one is recovering from a C-section. The prop you up so you don't have to engage your poor beleaguered core muscles too much, they make it so that you don't feel like you're being split open all over again when you cough, sneeze, or laugh, and also they're pillows, man! They're super comfy even under non-C-section circumstances. Make sure your woman has pillows! She'll love you forever for it.
"Recovery Is Work"
When I had my C-section I felt guilty that I couldn't do everything I usually did... because I'm a woman and I'm socialized to believe that a good chunk of my value comes in the form of how I can do things for other people. It's good to have a grown-ass person there to validate your need (need!) to rest and recover and that healing is in and of itself a task that needs to be accomplished.
"I'll Take Care Of Your Transportation Until You're Cleared To Drive"
It might be a while before one can drive again after a C-section, so having someone there to take you to appointments (or arrange or help you arrange transportation) is incredibly helpful.
"I'm Sorry, They Said *What* To You...?"
Despite being incredibly common, C-sections can often be incredibly judged by the bigger jerks out there. (They walk among us, people. If you don't believe me just spend literally five minutes on social media and you'll see!) So be prepared to defend your partner. You don't need to be a white knight about it and challenge anyone to a duel, but be prepared to be a grown-ass man and stick up for your partner when someone says something rude.
"We're In This Together"
She'll know it through your actions, but it's nice to hear every so often that she's got a grown-ass man by her side.