Dear Harlan,

My wife is pregnant and has placenta previa. We’ve been told by our doctors that she is most likely going to have a Cesarean section. This is a huge difference from the natural birth that we originally had planned. I was wondering about how to take care of my wife and what I need to do to help her after the surgery. I have read horror stories online from moms who have had C-sections, but I am just not sure what to prepare for and how to help my wife. Thank you.


Dear Prepping,

STOP reading that other stuff. It won’t help you or her.

Barring anything unexpected, which can happen during any medical procedure, focus on the good. There are perks — she will have a longer hospital stay, which will help you figure out how having a baby works. She’ll have a firm deliverly date — no speeding tickets. The procedure will be planned, so it’s as safe as it can be. Of course, your wife would prefer a birth without surgery, but there’s no reason to worry until you have a reason to worry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in three babies were delivered via C-section in 2007 (the latest reported figures). That’s 1.4 million deliveries with a very low rate of complications. So, relax. Still, talk to the doctor and ask what he or she recommends (consider doing this privately). Plan on having extra help following the birth. Start with a lactation consultant if your wife plans on breastfeeding. Look into a night nurse or a family member staying with you guys for a couple of weeks. Also, make yourself available in the first month. Try to take as much time off as you can if you’re not a stay-at-home dad. You’ll be the one lifting the baby in the middle of the night, changing diapers and helping your wife nurse while she heals (if she nurses). Also, consider freezing meals, asking friends to bring food and finding ways to make it so your wife has nothing to do other than heal. Healing will takes weeks, not days. Congrats! This is all very exciting.

Dear Harlan,

How can I convince my girlfriend of five years to make her own personal decisions? She always seems to defer to me. I’m happy she takes my thoughts into consideration, but she needs to be able to make decisions on her own. I can’t be the one to make decisions for her.

Personally Annoyed

Dear Personally Annoyed,

This must have been so much fun at first — she would agree to everything. But five years later, it can wear a guy down. Basically, you have to think for two people. If you make the wrong decision for her, or if she’s unhappy, you’re responsible. So, is what you’re really asking is, How can you help your girlfriend make her own decisions so you’re not responsible for her happiness or unhappiness? She needs her own thoughts. You can’t give them to her. When she asks you to make a personal decision, ask her, “what do you think?” If she asks, “Well, what do you think?” tell her you think she needs to find an answer first. Help her flex the muscle. If she has a hard time, she might need some professional help. Make it less about you and more about how important it is to you that she develops passions outside the relationship. If she can’t think for herself, you might help her decide to date other guys.

Harlan is the author of “The Happiest Kid On Campus: A Parent’s Guide to the Very Best College Experience (for You and Your Child)” (Sourcebooks). Write Harlan at [email protected] or visit online: All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan! 2506 N. Clark St., Ste. 223, Chicago, IL 60614.

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