Making the Most of Your Post-Baby Hospital Time
When the big day arrives, whether it’s scheduled or spontaneous, the hospital becomes your “baby spa” retreat for the next few days. Besides getting to see your sweet little angel there for the first time, your body will undergo a major physical feat and you will encounter an emotional (partially hormonal) roller coaster. Although you will be eager to bring your little one home to your nest, don’t miss the hidden treasures that lie in your time at the hospital. Here are five tips to make the most of your post-baby hospital stay.
Let’s begin with the trickiest tip of the bunch….limiting visitors. It’s tough to pull this off without some hitches, but it’s an important part of maximizing your recovery and care time at the hospital. After your sweet one arrives, emotions (and hormones for Mom) are running high. Everyone in your support system is armed with good intentions and eager to see your new little bundle of joy. However, these loving visitors can unknowingly create extra stress for a new mom. I remember how with my first baby, as family and friends paraded through my room, I automatically switched into “hostess” mode. This was not the hat I wanted to be wearing at the time, and it proved to be exhausting. The result was a major meltdown to my lucky husband later in the evening. Although you’ll be excited for people to meet your new baby, you’ll also want to rest, not worry about looking presentable and to have time to take in what just happened! With that being said, come up with a plan for how you want to approach this scenario before you are in it. Grandparents, siblings, etc… are an exception, but when it comes to everyone else, don’t be shy about politely letting them know that you are waiting to have visitors until you’re home and settled. People actually appreciate knowing that limit as they just want to be helpful and supportive during this time. If you do have visitors, keep it brief. Once you bring baby home and get into your groove, you will welcome your visitors with open arms and a clear head.
Eat, Sleep and Be Merry
Eat: One of the most delectable cheeseburgers of my life came from the hospital cafeteria after delivering my first son. After hours of strenuous labor, your body will be ready for a hearty dose of replenishment. Whether it’s from your favorite place outside the hospital or from the free food service that comes with your “all inclusive” stay, eat up, ladies!! It’s not often (especially now that you are a mom) that you will have someone cook for you, deliver it to you in bed and clean up afterward. Enjoy every second…who cares what’s on the menu! In between meals, send your hubby to the nutrition room as much as your heart desires.
Sleep: If you are limiting your visitors, you have a great opportunity to get in some extra shut-eye. Whether or not you want your baby to be taken to the nursery in between feedings is a personal choice. Either way, you know you’ve heard it: “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” You will quickly realize the value and power of a nap!!
Be Merry: Be glad that there are no distractions of looming housework, meal preparation or work obligations during this time. Stay in that “plush” hospital bed and, first and foremost, revel in your new baby. In between these adoring moments, don’t be afraid to indulge in some daytime TV, gossip magazines or your favorite book. These pleasures will be few and far between when you get home.
There is a revolving door of people in and out of your room during your stay at the hospital. Once you are moved to the mother/baby unit, the checklist of people begins: doctors, pediatricians, lactation specialists, nurses, financial and birth certificate representatives. You’ll even have a photographer come in with the option of a photo session (new moms are certainly suckers for this one….myself included). All of these individuals have an important service and valuable information for parents. I learned more from the nurses and lactation consultants over my brief hospital stay than I had read in any parenting or “What to Expect” books. They are rich with knowledge all for your benefit. Listen up and don’t forget to ask questions.
PS: Don’t forget to ask your nurses for some hospital “swag!” They will happily give you the extra diapers, Vaseline, ice packs, etc., that were in your room, as they will otherwise be thrown away.
Avoid the Technology Trap
Before my epidural had even worn off, I looked over to see my husband zoned out on his phone. He was, of course, composing the official Facebook birth announcement, which has become a standard in welcoming a new baby. Once that announcement is posted, with tags, stats and the infamous first picture with baby wrapped up like a burrito, the Pandora’s box of technology will open. Your phone or gadget of choice will be beeping all day with comment notifications, text messages, e-mails, etc. It will be so enticing to see what is on the other end of those beeps. The outpouring of love and support is an amazing feeling to proud parents. Technology is great in that way. However, in hindsight, I see what a distraction it can be to being in the moment. While my husband was sending out his proud papa post, our little boy was getting cleaned and diapered for his first time. The posts, tweets, texts, etc., can wait! Be in the moment with your new baby.
This is by far the BEST and most important part of the stay. If you walk away remembering one tip, I hope this is the one. Bond with your baby! Talk to, sing to and revel in your new little miracle. Enjoy these first days of getting to know each other and beginning what I think is the best gift of life, being a parent.
Amanda Doll enjoyed her stay at the maternity “spa” much more her second time around. She is a full-time teacher and proud mom of two little boys in Lenexa.