Saturday, December 27, 2014

Baby Advice for the Hospital

My sister-in-law is having a baby shower in Illinois today. I'm not able to attend for obvious reasons, but as I wrote up her card I dreamed of all the advice I'd like to offer new mothers. Not that I'm an expert, and I do think every one has to do their own thing and we'll all have different preferences ... but with birth so fresh on my mind I'd like to jot down a few things. I'll start with the very beginning: the hospital

Sign up for classes:
Each of the hospital systems we've been in (INOVA and Affinity) have offered a large variety of classes. For first time parents I recommend going big. Take the six week long couples course. Even if you want a medication free birth, it's best to take a class that covers everything, You never know when you're birth plan will fly out the window, and if you have to have an emergency c-section it's best to have some idea about what is going on. I'd also recommend taking a one night child care class. As second time parents we took refresher classes, a condensed version of the "beginner" classes. I meant to sign up for the refresher birthing class this time around (not the child care one though), but just never got around to it -- which I totally regret. I spent the last two weeks of pregnancy studying my Mayo Clinic book every morning because I knew I needed the prep. I love Mayo Clinic and would recommend buying the book as an extra resource.

How to pack your hospital bag:
My advice isn't what to pack, it is how to pack. There are a zillion lists for packing a hospital bag. This time around I used one published in my free "Baby" magazine. It's nice to have a checklist right in front of you, so I recommend looking at a couple different ones and using them as guides. You know yourself, if it says to pack earrings (mine did) but you hardly ever where them (I don't), then don't pack them.

The best strategy is to pack two bags. One for the delivery and one for the two day stay at the hospital. This way you have all your essentials ready for delivery. I'd also recommend keeping your essentials really bare. All I had in my delivery bag was:
  • my favorite chapstick
  • a hair tie
  • hard candy to suck on
  • a ball for massaging my back 
  • a heat pad
  • and a bra (for my water birth)
That's it. You can grab a pillow (with your wildest pillow case, to avoid getting your nice pillow mixed up with the hospital pillows) and your camera (charge the battery and make sure you have an SD card loaded) on your way out the door, but beyond those things I really can't think of anything else you'd need for those first few hours at the hospital.

My two day stay bag had:
  • a bath robe (which I didn't use this time around, and I didn't use the above mentioned pillow this time around either)
  •  toiletries (what you'd pack for a casual weekend away)
  • two changes of underwear
  • a maternity outfit (you're not going to fit into your old clothes right away, trust me)
  • a nursing bra
  • a baby blanket 
  • a going home outfit for baby 
  • some snacks
  • spare change 
You'll also need the baby's car seat all set up and ready to go. I always have Ben bring me my laptop after his first trip home. Ben has never stayed the night at the hospital with me, and we prefer it that way. At least one of us needs a good night's sleep, plus I like sending him out to run errands for me.

Keep the guest list light: 
I know people who have had a packed room during delivery and that's fine -- whatever works for you. But I personally only want Ben in the room with me while I'm in labor. As for visitors who come to see the baby, ask them not to come until day two -- when you've had time to recover (ie, shower and put on real clothes).

Send your baby to the Nursery:
I have some friends who keep their babies by their side constantly. And I say good for them. But that's not me. Delivering a baby is the biggest workout of a lifetime. You've likely missed hours of sleep and your body is in disrepair. The hospital is your chance to rest up. And babies are not quiet roommates. Even when they are sleeping peacefully they tend to squirm and cry. During the day hours I keep the baby in the room with me so we can bond and love each other, but when night comes the baby goes right to the nursery. The nurses bring baby in once baby is hungry, I feed baby, and then I send baby right back. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for doing this. Here in Wisconsin I've always felt like the nurses loved holding my baby during those late night hours (some tell me about their snuggles the next morning), but in Virginia I do remember one nurse turning her nose up at me when I asked her to supplement Reid with a bottle if he woke up hungry before a certain hour. Here's the thing, Reid's delivery was rough. My body was in some serious disrepair. I'll spare you the details, but trust me when I say that recovery was rough. And bodies don't recover without rest. I needed just four hours of uninterrupted sleep, and that nurse should have understood that. Hopefully your hospital is a judgement free zone.

Capitalize on hospital samples:
This may sound strange, but there is also a strategy for going home from the hospital. We always use up the full amount of hospital stay afforded us. I know some people are anxious to get home -- we aren't those people. Neither are we the type of people who raid hotel rooms. I've never packed hotel toiletries in my go home bag. The hospital on the other hand, we raid that place. If you are breastfeeding, ask for a sample of lanolin. The big packages sold in stores go to waste, the hospital sample size is perfect. Ask for extra disposable underwear, ice packs, and whatever other items you've grown to love during your stay at the hospital. Pack all the medications you've been using. Our hospital even gives baby some great take home items -- hand knitted hats and a halo sleep sack. I'm not trying to encourage theft, if the hospital doesn't offer it to you, don't take it -- but usually the discharge nurse will say something like "help yourself to anything in your bathroom or in the baby's crib." Take them up on this offer. 

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...