Your length of stay in hospital will depend on whether you have delivered by caesarean, or a vaginal delivery. Different hospitals also have their own guidelines on discharge of maternity patients. You should find out in advance what your expected length of stay in hospital will be. Some women choose to leave the hospital quite soon after delivery, of course this has to be approved by a doctor, while others stay for as long as possible. There are options of going home early and having a midwife visit you at home for the week after the birth. This is quite a good option as you’ll be able to ask the midwife questions about situations as they arise while at the same time, you’re getting settled back at home with your partner.
While you are in hospital, take advantage of the midwives and their experience. Ask as many questions as you can, listen to all of their advice and use what you find valuable. Some hospitals and birth centres offer classes to assist you in the care of your new baby, these include breastfeeding, bathing and settling. Attend all the classes available to you, they are a great source of information and it encourages you get up and walk around.
Your hospital or birth centre will offer routine immunisations to your baby. These include Vitamin K, this is given via one injection just after birth or it can be given orally with 3 doses. Dose 1 at birth; dose 2 between 3-5 days and the 3rd dose between 4-6 weeks. Also babies of Hepatitis B carrier mothers are given the first injection to immunise against Hepatitis B at birth. If you are discharging yourself soon after delivery, ensure you have all the information you need regarding these immunisations.
Hospital procedures can become tiresome as they involve many interruptions in your day. Don’t be afraid to use your “Do Not Disturb” sign if it is available, especially if you are feeding your baby or catching up on some much needed sleep for yourself.
Depending on the quality and abundance of food your hospital supplies, it may be a good idea to have a supply of healthy snacks in your room. You have just been through a very physical event and your body will want to rebuild its energy levels. If you are breastfeeding you may feel particularly hungry as your body adjusts to this new demand being placed on it. Breastfeeding can also make you feel extremely thirsty so it is a good idea to have a bottle or glass of water handy before you start the feed.
Most hospitals allow your partner and other children to visit whenever they like. In fact some Birth Centres and hospitals allow your partner to sleep over with you. There is usually a time just after lunch when the maternity ward has visitor free time. Even though you may not feel you need the rest, be thoughtful of the other new mums and keep to this rule.
Visiting times are usually fairly strict for non-family members and this is for a good reason. It is so that all of the new mums can have peace and quiet at set times of the day. Visiting hours can become quite hectic. Try to limit your visitors to a couple at a time and schedule people to come in at staggered times.
Although flowers are a traditional gift to bring to hospital you may like to suggest to friends that you would prefer something for the baby or even suggest that they might like to contribute to your new pram or cot. If you do receive a lot of flowers, be aware of their scent as it can become over powering for your new baby in the air-conditioned environment.
Starting to breastfeed can be a very difficult and emotional time. It is something that you and your baby will have to learn to get right together and once you do, it is the easiest and most wonderful experience. With the best of intentions, your midwives will all offer their own opinion on how to achieve the best result. Try not to get overwhelmed by the varying information, take it all in and remember that they are not going home with you. You will have to make the decision that’s right for you and your baby on your own.
‘the 3 day blues? are caused by the sudden drop in levels of the hormones that helped sustain your pregnancy and are a normal part of your recovery after delivering your baby. You may feel teary, over tired and as if you are not coping. These feelings should pass within a few days. If they don’t, you may be suffering from Post Natal Depression.
Before you are discharged, you and your baby will be examined to ensure you are in good health. You should be provided with your Well Child baby health book that is used to record all of your baby’s health check-ups and immunisations including a contact number for your local Plunket Centre to make an appointment for your baby’s 4-6 week check-up.
Remember the hospital will not allow you to leave if you do not have a properly fitted newborn safety restraint installed in your car.