Sunday, April 19, 2009

Delivery tips for the hospital

There are a ton of articles online about what to pack in your hospital bag when you're ready to deliver your baby (most of these items are absolutely not necessary in my experience).  The only items that I feel were essential during my hospital stay were: chapstick, gum, hair tie, toothpaste, toothbrush, toiletries including soap and shampoo, make-up, lanolin, nursing bra,  cell phone, camera, laptop, going home outfit for baby and comfy going home outfit for you (although most women in labor show up to the hospital wearing clothes, so you could just wear those home if you really wanted to minimize your packing.)  All the other stuff you hear that you need like slippers, robe, nightgown, special pillows, etc is really not necessary or the hospital provides an alternative.  

But I've been thinking about my hospital experience and some of the useful information I knew beforehand and some valuable lessons I learned in retrospect that I'd like to share with anyone preparing to deliver so they are more prepared than I was.  So here we go!

-Eat something that is going to fill you up while you are still at home. I opted for lasagna and a root beer float (I did not get sick thankfully, although in my experience milk comes back up in a somewhat refreshing manner in case you were wondering.)  Most hospitals do not allow any food in the delivery room.  And most of the time you are only allowed water and ice chips during the later stages of labor.

-Don't pee right before you go to the hospital.  They will want a sample as soon as you get there. (Edited to add: I only live about 2 miles from the hospital where I delivered.  I shouldn't advise people on the requirements of their bladder coupled with the possible staining of their car's upholstry when I don't know everyone's precise mileage from their hospital.  Don't listen to me.)

-Discuss important details like donating the cord to the blood bank, Hepatitis B immunization, circumcision, etc. with your partner beforehand so that you are prepared to make your wishes known to the hospital staff when these issues come up even if your partner is not in the room at that time.

-Keep your packing to a minimal level.  Hilariously, I packed 2 encyclopedia-sized baby manuals (one for me and one for Dave so we didn't fight over them) that I was convinced we would want to speedread once the baby was born.  And we might have, had we not discovered the baby channel on our TV which played in the background for the duration of our stay in the hospital.

-Only bring the delivery essentials for the delivery room.  Keep the overnight bags in the car until you are moved to the postpartum room.

-Have your husband or labor partner take notes on your progression through labor, noting the time, dilation and any other labor details of interest.  Often these things can be blurry in retrospect and it's nice to have a detailed account of what took place to look back on afterwards.

-Have your husband or labor partner keep track of physicians (or contractors) names and the services they provide in case there are insurance disputes later on.  If someone walks into your room and asks for your insurance information, be sure to get their name as well.  Same goes for any bill paying that may be done during your hospital stay.  

-Be very vocal and extremely direct with your nurses if there is something you need.  I made the mistake of being too casual with my nursing staff and apparently that translated to them as me not needing anything.  For example, I mentioned my interest in speaking with a lactation consultant after North and I experienced some latching issues his first morning of life.  By 4:00 PM, no one had visited the room because the nurses hadn't relayed my request.  Be vigilant about your needs.

-Plan on wearing the gowns provided by the hospital.  You're going to be bleeding quite a bit and there is no need to ruin your pretty clothes you brought with you. Plus, their gowns have snaps at the shoulders and are great for nursing.  I recommend wearing one gown with the back open and putting another gown on backwards to create a makeshift robe.  It's fashion-forward and the nurses will respect the MacGyver in you.  Be warned though, you may surprise yourself with your nonchalance regarding who sees your ass hanging out after delivery.

-Order 2 desserts from room service.  No one is going to judge how much food you eat.  Be nice and give 1 of the desserts to your husband.

-Drink a ton of water.  If you have a catheter, it's important that you start peeing on your own as quickly as possible.  But if you're nursing, you need more liquids as well.  Plus keeping yourself well hydrated will help with constipation and any horribleness that may or may not be going on with the backside of your body.

-Take the stool softeners the nurses offer you.  And hell, take the pain pills too!

-If you plan on pumping and you already have your pump, take it with you to the hospital.  I had the lactation consultation look at mine to make sure that my breast shields actually fit me (she gave me better fitting ones for free). 

-Don't be modest.  There is no need to be embarrassed about delivery or nursing.  You are going to have lots of things going in and coming out of your body.  Doctors will be putting their hands in strange places and nurses and consultants will be grabbing your boobs to show you techniques for nursing.  Remember they are experts and not perverts.  Let go of your inhibitions and get as much knowledge as you can from their experience while you can.

-Keep the baby in the room with you if you want, it's good practice after all!  But don't be afraid to call the nurses to come take the baby to the nursery either. Remember, you just gave birth and you need some sleep too.

-If you have a boy and you plan to circumcise, try to make sure it is completed 24 hours BEFORE you leave the hospital.  North got circumcised (sorry to announce this to the internets son, but it's for a good cause I promise) an hour before we were discharged.  This led to a much more difficult first day at home for everyone than necessary.

-Make sure your spouse is present for all directions on paperwork and on baby care instructions.  More than likely, the mother will be exhausted and on some form of pain medication, so her memory may not be in the best shape for these details.  I still fail to understand why all directions and instructions were given only to me.  I think both parents need to be present if at all possible, that way everyone is accountable and not just the mother.

-Take any extra supplies provided by the hospital for both you and the baby.  Apparently, you are not supposed to take the blankets, but we did walk away with a few.  They may be ugly, but they are incredibly multipurpose.  Take the pads, wash basin, hats, baby shirts, mesh underwear, pads, take it all!

-The nurses may also ask you if you need anything else before you leave---do not be shy about asking for more diapers, wipes, pads, ice packs, etc.  We walked out of the hospital with an extra $40 in diapers and wipes when I explained I was using cloth on him and would need something to tide us over until the cloth fit him.  Not only did this save us having to go to the store, but it saved us money too.

-Bring reusable grocery bags to the hospital with you to carry all your free hospital loot home.

I hope to add to this list as more things occur to me.  I'd also love to hear any other tips you ladies have out there.


Michele said...

I totally chuckled at your list. I barely brought anything with me, but here's a couple things not sure I saw you mention: Ipod with docking station- depending on the timing and length of yur visit, the TV can get quite boring. I had the ipod going the whole time I was in labor. Crocs or flips flops- something that can be wiped clean (because it can get messy) and easy slipped on for strolling around the floors pre and post baby. Definitely leave the fuzzy slippers at home ;-) and finally a nursing bra with nursing pads and a shirt that's accessable for nursing. and a back-up shirt in case you leak all over it before you even leave the hospital. No one told me about the leaking ;-)

Oldmarrieds said...

You totally rock! The list (and commentary) are awesome and so timely for me. Thanks for writing it all out and I'll be checking back for any updates.

Now, do you have any advice on getting labor going? I thought that doing some serious yard work would help, but it just made me sore ;)

dave said...

as far as getting labor going, my dad keeps telling me when I was a couple weeks overdue, he took my mom driving down a rough dirt road in his 1929 Model A Ford (very stiff suspension) to get me moving! I'm pretty sure that's in the medical books.

Sonya said...

Michele, as always, great tips! And good call on the ipod and the flip flops. Dave and I had both of our ipods and speakers, but somehow we never broker them out. Kind of shocking considering we ALWAYS have music playing. The flip flops are definitely a packing must I overlooked especially if you plan on showering at the hospital.

Jules, I'm so glad you found this helpful! As for labor advice, by the sounds of it you're doing exactly what I did---keeping active. I walked about 4 miles during my 2 days of contractions before I went into labor. So maybe there is something to be said for that? I do believe that such exercise really does help with labor and a quick recovery though (but you know, I'm not a doctor). Unofficially, I would tell you to vacuum your house and eat lots of lasagna to induce labor (hey man, it worked for me!) I'm getting so excited for you, any day now!