The First Night at Home...
Sleep deprivation is not your friend.
Even though I made sure I got a decent night's sleep the night before the baby came back home, it still shocked me how utterly draining the first night at home was. It's the combination of your own and your partner's lack of sleep, with a baby that is more active at night because that's when the milk comes. Add to this a baby's stomach that can only hold a thimble of milk at a time, so needs more every hour, and you can probably see why new parents look so haggard.
Combine this with the "baby blues" that commonly kick in for your partner in the first few days and you have a recipe for a whole new brand of fun. Oh yes, and you no longer have a collection of qualified midwives just the other side of the room if you need them.
Suddenly, you're the key support structure. You'd better be ready for it!
Now this situation is made even more problematic by the fact that breast feeding is the way to go health wise and as your partner can't express milk in the first few weeks, meaning only she can do the feeding. So what can you do?
Everything else. Seriously, the more weight you can take off your partner's shoulders the better.
Of these, the biggest help I found I could be was as a distracting soother. Dad's presence can provide a sleep window for your other half. It's amazing how some swaying, rocking and a few half-remembered song lyrics can keep a baby from griping for a couple of hours even if they won't sleep when left alone. Those few hours of sleep for your partner will be valuable.
Plus, those moments of soothing are a great opportunity for bonding. The first time you rock baby to sleep in your arms is a memory to treasure.