Supporting her in the first 2 weeks
A woman's body undergoes immense physical and emotional adjustments in the early weeks after giving birth and just as each woman's physical and emotional recovery will vary, so too will her support needs. You may find she needs more emotional support than physical help (or versa visa), or she may need a combination of both, at different times. Your support of her will depend on how she is feeling, what the baby is doing and what needs to be done at the time. If she is feeling unsure, or seems like she needs some help, but is reluctant to ask for it, ask her how you can best support her, to enable you to meet her needs during this time.
Some women will willingly rest and accept support from their partner, family and friends. Others may find it hard to 'let go' of household chores, to receive the support they need, both physically and emotionally. If your partner finds it hard to ask for support, you may need to instigate discussion about appropriate support strategies that may work for both of you (possibly even before the baby is born). If your families live a long way away, or they are no longer living (or you do not want them to be involved), then you may be her only support, and she will probably rely on you heavily.
After the birth, the woman's body starts to physically recuperate and heal. She may be recovering from the hours of physical exertion that she underwent during the labour and birth, or from a Caesarean, which is a major operation, requiring at least 6 weeks to fully recover from. Even though the birth has finally come and gone, her body will remain working hard to adjust and heal, as well as produce breast milk (if breast feeding). It is not uncommon for a new mother to require the same level of physical and emotional support as she did during the labour and birth (or even more).
You may like to discuss with your partner how you can both enjoy your new baby, and relax and recover.
No doubt you will be extremely excited about your son or daughter and may want to spend some time with your mates, and possibly have the traditional cigar and 'wet the baby's head' (have a drink in honour of the baby). You might like to do this when your partner and baby are in hospital (or set aside a time for this if your partner has a homebirth, or comes home on the early discharge program). You may also have a few work commitments, and may feel tired after the birth and need to sleep. It may be hard for you to take care of other children while your partner is in hospital.
You will need to balance your needs with that of your partner and the new baby when they arrive home (unless they are already there after a homebirth). Meals will need to be organised, the woman may need help with the new baby, the house may need to be cleaned, nappies and clothes washed, and your partner cared for, while she heals and recovers (as well as possibly catering for siblings). You may wish to explore some support options, such as using a nappy service or disposable nappies, instead of washing nappies (for at least the first few weeks), or employ professional help (such as a cleaner, if you can afford this).
Family and friends may be able to pitch in and help in various ways, to lighten the load. If it is at all possible, try to get some time off work after your baby is born. This can give you time to support your partner, get to know your baby, and maybe get some sleep yourself. The early days can be a very special discovery time for you, and a good way to start your parenting from the very beginning.