You've spent months preparing for the day to bring your baby home from the hospital, but many first-time moms do not know what to expect about their hospital stay after the baby comes. There are a few things you should know about the hospital stay to make you feel more prepared as you write your birth plan.
Your baby can stay with you.
In movies and other film depictions of hospital birth, family and friends visit the nursery with a big viewing window to look at all the babies. However, while every hospital has a nursery, you don't have to send your baby there if they are in good health. Usually, the hospital provides a medical cradle for your baby to sleep in. The cradle is on wheels so nurses can take your baby to and from the nursery for hearing and bilirubin tests as well as access to other medical equipment for other testing as needed.
You can focus on resting.
Many women worry that with the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital, they won't get much rest after the baby is born. Every hospital is different, but many hospitals have a separate ward for recovering moms, so that you aren't disturbed by the sounds of an active labor ward.
Newborn babies sleep a lot during the first few days of life, and gradually become more active as they recover from childbirth. You can use this time to get some sleep.
You'll have access to help.
Depending on your labor experience, your pain level following delivery will vary. However, you will have access to medications and a full-time nursing staff to help you manage your after-birth symptoms. For example, some women have trouble with bowel movements after birth. Your nurse and doctor will check on you to see how you are doing, and give you a stool softener to help move things along.
Hospitals also provide breastfeeding coaches and nurses to help you get started with nursing if that is your choice. You won't have to worry about bringing bottles, formula, pacifiers, or diapers for your baby. Hospitals provide these services. The staff will also provide you with things like ice packs, numbing sprays, absorbent pads, and other necessities for immediate recovery.
Your baby also receives care.
The hospital stay is not just for your own recovery, it is also for the recovery of your baby. The first few hours of life are critical, and your baby will be closely watched. An on-staff pediatrician will check:
- blood sugar levels to make sure your baby is getting enough food.
- bilirubin level to monitor jaundice
- breathing and heart rate