There is so much that I could say in this post. There is so much that no one talked about before I had my first baby–I mean, SOMEONE could have told me these things that I’m about to tell you. You can thank me later. (wink)
Ahhh….after delivery….the baby is here…everyone is elated! You’re so in love with this new bundle of joy and it’s smooth sailing until real life begins at home. Well, not quite, pretty mama.
Now don’t get me wrong, Rooster and I LOVE our post-delivery stay at the hospital. I mean, it’s like a vacation to us. Come on–no kids for 3 days…you get to order whatever you want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…they bring it to you and pick it up when you’re finished. Family & friends bring you food, drinks, gifts, flowers…hospital staff take out your trash & replace the trash bag….they bring you your pain meds….give you diapers and a bunch of other baby stuff…they clean up your accidents, mamas (more on that soon)…nurses help you to the bathroom…I mean, what’s not to love?
Well….there are a few things that aren’t so pleasant. I think I’ll just make a list and see how many I can come up with. All I know is what I know, though, so this list is just an idea of some things you can expect.After a vaginal birth, your…ummm….well, I’ll just say it. Your legs will stay wide open and anyone & everyone will get to see your special lady parts as you deliver the placenta, get stitched up (if you tear or have to have an episiotomy), and then you have to get cleaned up. It’s a mess down there, ladies…and everyone’s gonna know it. See it. The process is a long one, so just get ready to have it all out there because that’s just the way it is. I am extremely modest, but had to get over it real quick.
- If you have had an epidural, you’ll have to wait until you can stand up without help, pee two or three times…basically show the nurse you can do the basic bodily functions on your own until they’ll leave you alone. But just for a minute..
- Cause they come right back. They’ll be in out of your room almost constantly for the first 24 hours taking your temperature, blood pressure, the baby’s temperature… Making sure you know that breastfeeding means that the baby can like, drink from YOU. Some of the nurses will just about pull your bosoms out themselves! They have to treat you like you know nothing, so try not to get offended like I did. It’s just part of it.
- The nurses will want to know about every. single. time. Junior poops and/or pees. Don’t throw the diaper away until you know that they don’t want to see it with their own eyes.
- They want to know when you breastfed and how long your baby nursed. On each side. I can’t tell you how many times they will ask & mark my word–they will ask you “how long on the left side?” And “how long on the right side?” They want to know how many minutes, so WRITE IT DOWN, or be quick to make up something on the spot. They’re like Nursing Nazis.
- You won’t sleep the first night after the baby’s born. Even if your baby sleeps, they’ll come in all night long checking your temp & blood pressure…and the baby’s….over and over…
- Your nurses will mash all over your poor belly and tell you to massage it so that your uterus will go down. It’s not the best feeling in the world.
- They will check your lady parts again and again, checking for how much you are bleeding. And just when you thought that part was over.
- You will be given pads and special mesh panties. Wear those things–they are awesome. Not the pads, the “meshies”. (That’s just a broody chick term…don’t ask for them like that or you’ll get some looks.)
- Now for the pads. They are the standard sized heavy flow pads, but wearing one won’t cut it. You’ve gotta wear two of them, side by side, where one overlaps the other just a bit. I’ve read about wearing adult diapers 😳, like Depends, but have personally never tried them. For me, the pads work just fine with the meshies & they’re free.
- Remember when I mentioned that the nurse would clean up “your messes” earlier? What I’m talking about is if (when), you get blood on the sheets…or the floor….etc. You’ll also see some clots. It’s all normal. It’s just what’s going to happen in the very beginning. It should ease way up before you go home. If you have an extreme amount of blood or are just concerned, let your nurse know. Losing too much blood too fast isn’t good.
- Swelling. You will be given an IV drip of fluids like as soon as you are admitted. This, along with childbirth, is going to make you swell BIG TIME. Your toes may even touch completely. It will start to go away a few days after you get home. *Night Sweats* Lovely.
- Breastfeeding. If you decide to do this, which I strongly encourage, remember that it will take time. Your baby will probably not latch perfectly and you will get sore, you may even bleed. Getting your baby to open his mouth is absolutely KEY. The bigger he opens up, the better the latch. Girls latch on better than boys, it’s a known fact. Boys are usually more lazy and tend to not open their mouths as wide as girls. If you have a little boy and he does this, unlatch him and try again. You may do this several times each feeding until he opens wide enough. The majority of your areola needs to be in his mouth, other wish he’ll just be sucking on the nipple and that’s NOT going to feel good, and if will be harder for your colostrum to let down. Also, if you’re stressed out, ask for everyone to leave the room while you try getting the baby latched on. It’s not an easy thing in the beginning and having people in the room may make it way harder for you. So, send them on out, and close the curtain by the door. You don’t have to have an audience during such an important time. (I’ll do a post on breastfeeding soon.)
- Lactation. Lactation support at your hospital will be coming in at some point to see how breastfeeding is going. If you’re having a hard time, welcome them in. They are a huge help & are there to support you throughout your hospital stay and beyond. If you’re a seasoned breastfeeding mother, like me, you can tell your nurse that you don’t need them to come in. That’s what I do…there are other moms that may need them a lot more & I don’t want to waste their time.
- Night shift nurses have a tendency to be loud when they all congregate at the nurses station. Ask for a room as far away from it as you can, unless your good with women cackling all night about goodness knows what.
- It may be cold in your room. It may be hot for you in your room. You may have a thermostat that can be changed, but sometimes those things just don’t work right. Even if you’re in mid summer, bring a cardigan or robe or something for yourself, and have your husband bring a fleece or something. If it’s too hot, open a window if you have the option-that may not even be permitted-, or ask if you can bring in a fan or something. My experience has always been that I’m too cold. Being too hot usually isn’t the issue.
- Some nurses are really efficient when it comes to getting you your pain medication on time. Some, however, are not, especially if they have a lot of patients. You should get your medication about every 4 hours, unless you take Motrin, which is, I think every 8 hours. I’m allergic to it, so, I obviously get something else. Make sure that you know what time you are due to take your medication & if your nurse doesn’t automatically bring it, there is an awesome little button on your bed that will call the nurses station. Tell them you’re due for your medication and if no one comes soon, call again. You’re going to feel pretty comfortable when your due for your dose, but do NOT skip it just because you think you’re good. Once it wears off, you are definitely going to remember that a human being came out of you just hours before. It doesn’t matter if you have a vaginal birth or a c-section. Take your pain medication ON TIME.
- Speaking of pain meds…if you have taken narcotics before and know what works best for you, tell your doctor at one of your last prenatal appointments. After I had Maggie, I was clueless as to what I was going to need, so I just had to try a bunch of stuff before one worked really good. If you don’t tell him, he’ll just prescribe something and it may, or may not work. This is just trial & error, so you could literally go 24 hours without feeling the relief you should be feeling. Motrin is really amazing for cramps, (which I’m about to discuss) but may not be the only thing you need. I’m allergic, but I can take Naproxen (Alieve), but this doesn’t cover it all. I was given Morpheme once and it made me talk crazy & feel totally weird. Vicodin (hydrocodone) works, but makes me nauseated, but Percocet (oxycodone) which is a bit stronger, works perfectly and does not make the the slightest bit nauseated. So, I just remind my doctor & it’s already written in my orders before I even get to my room. If you’re not sure what works for you, I don’t know what to tell you. Everyone is different and whereas one thing worked for your friend, it may not work for you.
- Where your pain will come from may or may not be a surprise. Obviously, if you have a c-section, that’s major surgery. If you have a vaginal birth, the lady parts will hurt, but it’s even worse if you tear or have to have an episiotomy. If you breastfeed, your going to be tender, and when your baby nurses, your uterus will contract, which really, really hurts. Lastly, if you’ve had constipation issues involving hemorrhoids, that area will hurt as well.
- Your first bowel movement after delivery. You will begin getting stool softeners very soon after giving birth. This is important because, well, because the easier it is to come out, the less it will hurt. Don’t be afraid to use the bathroom…relax and it will be fine.
- A little word about your husband, or anyone else who may be staying with you while you’re in the hospital. First of all, sleeping arrangements for him may not be absolutely amazing. If I were you, have him bring his pillow(s) and perhaps, even a blanket or two.
- When you pack your hospital bag, bring more than less. Many hospitals offer diapers, but not disposable wipes. Check with your hospital if you are not sure. You don’t want your husband to have to leave to go get something that you could’ve brought yourself.
- Now about your baby. First of all, many hospitals are encouraging The Golden Hour, which is skin to skin from the moment you deliver you baby through the first hour. I was absolutely shocked when I was in labor with my last baby and my nurse told me that I had the option. I had read a lot about it, but knew it wasn’t something my doctor practiced….oh, but he did now! Ask your doctor if you’re interested. It was an amazing experience for me and I can’t wait to do it again.
- Your baby will be given a vaccination some time soon after your baby is born. If you do not vaccinate or don’t want your baby to get that particular vaccination, let the nurse know so there will be no question later on when things get busy. I no longer vaccinate, so I just let my nurse know. It is a standard procedure and they won’t ask you if you want it or not. They’ll just do it.
- After you’re settled in your room, your baby will be right there with you, unless there is a special situation in your case. Some time during your stay, your baby will be taken away to have their hearing test done. They will also be taken to get weighed again towards the end of the 2nd day to see if they have lost weight, which leads me to an important issue…
- Your baby WILL lose weight before you leave the hospital. It’s completely normal for her to lose up to 10 oz. This just comes from the build up of fluid she had before birth. They are born sort of puffy….you’ll notice how different your baby starts looking just hours after being born. If you exclusively breastfeed, they are only getting colostrum for the first few days of life, so a breastfed baby may very well lose more weight than a formula fed baby. I have had nurses encourage me to supplement with formula because my baby lost 9oz…..this is NORMAL and absolutely not necessary. Don’t allow them to pressure you if they are suggesting this because they lose a few ounces. Once your milk comes in, the scale will quickly go right back up. Nurses who do this make me angry.
- Circumcision. I’ve only had one boy, so I’ve only gone through this one time and that was almost 8 years ago, so unfortunately, I don’t remember everything. If you have decided to have your baby circumcised, it will be done, *I believe* on the second day, but I may be wrong about that. It doesn’t take long. If I remember correctly, the OB doctor usually does this procedure, not the pediatrician. I’m not saying that a pediatrician never does it, but just ask your doctor if you’re as clueless as I am right about now. After the procedure, the nurse will explain how to take care of his little boy parts. It’s nothing hard, it’s just something you need to do every time you change his diaper. We don’t want any infections!
- Your baby will have her bilirubin levels checked after a certain amount of hours after birth. The reason is to check for jaundice, which you can read all about here. A lab technician will prick her heel to get blood and they will do this in your room. If her levels come back a bit high, levels will be checked again. Phototherapy will be a must if levels are very low on the first draw. Don’t let it freak you out.
- The pediatrician making hospital rounds will come visit you and the baby. This is standard and really no big deal, but write down any questions you might have as soon as you think about them. Being scatterbrained after having a baby is quite normal.
- Your hormones…..ahhh….yes. Your hormones are going to take a plunge after delivery. This is a very emotional time already and you may have a little breakdown or two, especially if this is your first baby. This has happened to me a few times and they all occurred on day 2. I remember crying in the shower. Giving birth and having all of these people coming into your room…nurses, hospital staff, friends, and even family can become just extremely overwhelming. I mean, as if having a new little person who needs you constantly isn’t enough. Try to remember that this is all normal and it, too, shall pass.
- BUT, if you get too overwhelmed and upset, just post a “No Visitors, Please” sign outside your door. I’m serious, girls. I did this THREE times. It was just something I had to do. I remember hearing that so-&-so came to visit, but the sign was up and they left. It’s OKAY. People will understand, I promise. Your nurse will also understand and make sure that this is enforced for however long you wish.
- If all goes well, which it more than likely will, you will be able to go home some time during day 3…maybe even day 2, (but Rooster & I would never leave that early from a vacation). When you pack up, make sure you get all the baby goodies you’ve been given from the hospital. Take home the pads and meshies…you may very well thank yourself. Ask questions if you have any, otherwise your nurse will go over your discharge list of what and what not to do. Take it with a grain of salt…you are the mother. You do what you think is best. If you have any questions when you get home, or if you start to worry about something, try to avoid reading a bunch of stuff on Google. Because this new part of your life is so precious, I would call your OB or the pediatrician instead.
I’m absolutely sure that I left out something, so when I remember it, I’ll update this post. If you can add to my list, especially if you have had a c-section, please comment! I can only tell you what I’ve experienced personally, so learning more about what I haven’t experienced is really important for me. Hope this list has helped in some way!