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I'm trying to collect some opinions on this, because I'm a first time parent and most of my friends don't have kids. Basically, I'm trying to work out how much I will be needed at home during the first weeks and months of the baby being born. Don't get me wrong, I'd love stay home with the baby the entire time but its a comprise between supporting the girlfriend, raising the baby and work/money commitments. I'm trying to strike the right balance.

Just to outline the situation

My girlfriend is due around November this year, and I am planning as much as I can in advanced. I've been talking to HR at work, trying to decide what the best arrangements to make for work are at the time of birth and directly after.

To be it into context, it just so happens that I am the main bread winner in the relationship and my girlfriend will be stopping work a couple months before and staying at home to look after the baby. She will then looking for a new job after a duration (6months? undecided as of yet). So my girlfriend will be the main carer for the baby (9 to 5) initially.

What I'm entitled to

I am entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave, at statutory pay; which is significantly less than my usual pay and makes a huge impact to our finances. I also have flexible hours, some holiday available and the opportunity to work from home some days of the week.

My current plan

First of all, I'm assuming everything will go ahead as expected and there will be no complications. If there are any, I'll need to change plans anyway so if it happens I'll rethink things.

Roughly the week proceeding the due day (or the point where it looks like it might be any minute) I will work from home, and be able to spring into action straight away and drive her to the hospital. Its worth noting that the mother-in-law is very local, and very helpful so she'll be on standby to help throughout the birth and the months after.

After the baby is born, I will take a week of paternity leave and the odd couple days of holiday to bridge across the nearest weekend or if we need a extra day of so.

After the initial paternity leave period, I will go back to work and work from home ~2 days a week flexibly, depending on how I'm needed at work and home. I'm an engineer, so my time is split between working on a computer (anywhere) and working in a lab (in the office). I would keep working from home a couple days a week for a month or two, probably up to Xmas.

In the New Year, I would look to going back to work in the office full time. I have flexible hours, so I can work different times to work around baby commitments as needed.


So I'm wondering, how much will I be needed during and after the pregnancy. Is just over 1 week dedicated, plus working from home for 2 months after enough?

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+1 for thinking things through. And +1 for being wise enough to be aware that there can be complications and knowing you may change your plan. –  user3143 May 23 at 14:02
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To be honest, the answer somewhat depends on your GF. I have seen women who crumbled unless their husband was at home helping for the entire first 3 months. I've seen women who handled 1 child, and then a second 2 years later, with only 1 week worth of support from the husband while they physically recovered from birth. –  user3143 May 23 at 14:04
    
@DVK The GF is a tricky one. She is many things, but she is not independent or particularly strong. However, she does spend her entire life looking after kids. She works at a Nursery for kids with special needs, babysits for young kids regularly etc. However there is a world of difference between 'borrowing' someone else's child for the day, and being responsible for one every day. –  Oliver May 23 at 14:30
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If she needs a c-section you're going to have to do a lot of support. –  DanBeale May 23 at 14:33
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@DanBeale Good point. For something like that, I think we would probably move in with her parents for a bit. The mother-in-law is home most of the time, and could help support her in addition to me. –  Oliver May 23 at 14:40

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

During the Pregnancy

That depends entirely on your girlfriend. In my case, we bought a house about 7 weeks before my wife was due, so she couldn't do much, and I needed to do most of the homebuying myself. Fortunately for me, my wife was a researcher and was able to find support groups online (other people due the same month), so there wasn't too much that I needed to do until she was scheduled for induction (we had a big baby). If you only have 1 car, you may need to exercise the flex scheduling to ensure your girlfriend can get to her appointments.

Directly after the birth

As noted in the comments, if your wife has a C-Section, you'll need to expect to take a little bit more time to help her out. You noted that you'd move in with her parents for a while, which is a good fallback. However, depending on the house layout (she won't want to take stairs for a while), you may want to ask her mother to stay with you for a few days, instead. When my daughter was born last year, my mother stayed with us for about a week, and spent most of her time cleaning the house, preparing food, making sure my wife was comfortable, etc. (That's the most important thing family can do to support you, by the way, not try to edge in on baby time).

Through the end of the year

How much time you take off is up to you and your girlfriend to determine, and unfortunately, you won't really be able to gauge how she's feeling until your baby is born. I took 4 vacation days for my daughter's birth, as she was scheduled to be induced on a Thursday, but wasn't born until Friday morning. I didn't have the option of any paternity leave, and had to go back to work the following Wednesday, but I was working from home quite a bit. That struck us as a good balance, and by then, my wife was much more comfortable and capable (she could take the stairs again!). For me, the biggest disruption to my work was needing to take my wife and daughter to the Dr. offices for checkups / follow-ups / staple removal.

Conclusion

Given that you're here, asking some very thoughtful questions 6 months in advance, and your girlfriend has experience working with little kids (many parents will tell you that it's much easier working with your own kid than other people's kids), I'd guess that you two will be just fine. Keep an open line of communication with your girlfriend, and be VERY thankful that you work allows you the flexibility to work remotely.

Cheers

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