What to Expect After You Give Birth: Post-Delivery Adviceby Elaine Plummer
Back in the days of yore when I was packing for the hospital to deliver my daughter, I got it so wrong. This was in the days before car seats were required for even the youngest of babies and there was no Internet to turn to for advice.
I was also the first of my group of friends and young nurse colleagues to become a mother. There wasn’t anyone to ask for advice, except my mom, whose main recommendation was to find a nurse at home to help me care for the baby - RIGHT!!
So as I was packing my overnight bag for my delivery, I included a pair of my size 6 jeans that I had worn before pregnancy. Along with those, I put in a slightly too large T-shirt, my favorite sleepwear, and a cute outfit, some blankets and a little hat for my new baby. No surprise to most, I later found that I couldn’t even pull my size 6 jeans on. In fact, I could hardly get them over my thighs! It was DEPRESSING and a bit ridiculous. In other words, I was as unprepared as it gets.
Despite my miscalculations many years ago, I have been around new mothers enough, shopped TOO many times at the baby stores and helped care for my twin granddaughters and two grandsons enough to have a good idea of what is needed and what isn’t in the delivery room. Here is some random Nurse Elaine Common Sense and thoughts (based on EXPERIENCE) that I hope will be of help:
What to Wear Home:
Bring a pair of attractive maternity pants to the hospital to wear home. Even the fittest women won’t feel comfortable zipping up a pair of jeans that fit her before she started wearing maternity pants. I always recommend bringing an outfit that you may not have worn before so you feel fresh and revived as you heal and adapt to motherhood. I’ve seen some new moms wear really cute dresses that don’t bind at the waist and look perfectly comfortable as they leave the hospital with their new baby - or babies!
New Baby Attire:
Bring at least two baby outfits to the hospital, especially if you want to have photos taken professionally. No doubt, if you have only one cute little dresses or onesies, the new infant will have his or her first “blow-out” or tinkle during the diaper change. Bring your own diapers to use for the car ride home. Not all hospitals carry Pampers Newborns.
Take Advantage of the Hospital Support
There are many hospital staff members who will be on-hand after delivery. Most post-partum nurses are excellent resources so ask them questions. It is also likely that a pediatrician will examine your baby and will come speak with you. Don’t be shy about requesting a visit from the lactation nurse specialist as well. Each baby is different and some thoughts from the expert, as well as getting your questions answered, will help. This will especially come in handy when you are at home alone and having some challenges during the 3:00 am feeding. Also, make sure you obtain the lactation nurse’s contact information should you have any follow-up concerns you want addressed once you begin feeding your baby at home.
Gifts Brought to the Hospital
Don’t take any tags off of the gifts that you may receive in the hospital. In fact, do not remove any of the tags of any item that you buy yourself or are given as a gift until you are ready to use it. Some things that you thought you would need, you may find out are not necessary. It is much easier to return items if they are in their original package with the tags intact.
Other than the fact that infant hats can look darling, hats serve a vital purpose in helping to keep a newborn’s body temperature stable. Lots of heat loss happens through the baby’s head. Those sweet little knit hats or baby bonnets provide an easy and stylish way to preserve heat while showing off your new one.
Comfort Measures for Mama
While you will be on your way to healing, as soon as or immediately after delivery, it doesn’t happen with a snap of your fingers. At first, you may have discomfort from the sutures if you have had a c-section, or vaginal soreness if you delivered via that route. The Mayo Clinic offers some excellent postpartum care advice. This is worth reviewing before you go to the hospital. I suggest printing it out and taking it with you, as you might not want to focus on it before, but will definitely want to take a look after delivery.
The article also mentions vaginal discharge or lochia after birth. For that, I recommend Always Pads and have for decades. They are far more comfortable to use than any of the hospital products that I have seen. Also, because of the variety of sizes available, you can adjust which products you use based on your body’s changing needs. You should NOT use tampons to manage postpartum lochia.
Any other suggestions or tips from others that you don’t find in the books?
Elaine Plummer is a health expert for Always and Tampax.