Your body

Happy in hos­pi­tal

Your Pregnancy - - Contents - YP

A HOS­PI­TAL WILL never be as comfy and cosy as your own home, yet most moms pre­fer to wel­come their ba­bies there for peace of mind and safety’s sake. De­spite the of­ten clin­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, the first meet­ing with your lit­tle one re­mains very spe­cial. But af­ter those first ec­static mo­ments, it’s easy to feel a lit­tle over­whelmed by the for­eign en­vi­ron­ment and rou­tine. If you know what to ex­pect in hos­pi­tal, you can use this time to pre­pare your­self so that you can take care of baby at home with less pres­sure. Here’s what you should know.


Pro­ce­dures around the first few hours af­ter baby’s birth vary dra­mat­i­cally from hos­pi­tal to hos­pi­tal. At some hos­pi­tals it’s stan­dard pro­ce­dure to sep­a­rate mom and baby di­rectly af­ter birth, so that the lit­tle one can be ex­am­ined (dad usu­ally tags along), and mom can get a breather and re­cu­per­ate. Dur­ing the ex­am­i­na­tion baby gets a bracelet to iden­tify him. In other fa­cil­i­ties, baby will be

put to mom’s breast for a lit­tle while straight af­ter birth in or­der to stim­u­late breast­feed­ing, be­fore be­ing taken to the nurs­ery un­til it’s time for the first feed. The ris­ing trend at pri­vate hos­pi­tals is for ba­bies to be ex­am­ined and weighed there and then in the ma­ter­nity ward un­der mom’s watch­ful eye, and straight af­ter­wards, if baby is healthy, he’ll be passed to mom for the first nurs­ing ses­sion. Skin-to-skin con­tact is al­ways rec­om­mended. So mom, dad and baby can be to­gether and are given some alone time to bond with baby. Then the fam­ily of­fi­cially moves to the post­na­tal ward. Mom is usu­ally en­cour­aged to take a bath or shower while baby’s in the ma­ter­nity unit’s nurs­ery or with dad. Mom gets some­thing to eat or drink, de­pend­ing on the time of day. With cae­sarean sec­tions things go a lit­tle dif­fer­ently, as baby might need to spend some time in the in­cu­ba­tor or be mon­i­tored. Be­cause you’re not as mo­bile fol­low­ing a c-sec­tion, some hos­pi­tals will al­low dad to do skin-to-skin in the nurs­ery (you can ask) while you re­cover or get cleaned up in your room. In other hos­pi­tals baby is just taken to the nurs­ery, and you only get to see him af­ter 45 min­utes or longer. It’s ideal for baby to breast­feed as quickly as pos­si­ble, prefer­ably within the first golden hour fol­low­ing the birth. Ask the hos­pi­tal be­fore your ad­mis­sion what their pro­ce­dure is so that you know what to ex­pect. If you’d like to do things dif­fer­ently – if you’d like skin-to-skin con­tact first and try to feed be­fore baby gets taken away – ask if it’s a pos­si­bil­ity, oth­er­wise the nurs­ing staff will stick to their nor­mal pro­ce­dures. Sis­ter Anna Duarte, unit man­ager of the ma­ter­nity divi­sion at Panorama Medi­clinic in Cape Town, says an­te­na­tal classes at the hos­pi­tal where you’ll be giv­ing birth pre­pare you for the rou­tines and pro­ce­dures of that spe­cific in­sti­tu­tion. “Some peo­ple who run an­te­na­tal classes have never worked in a hos­pi­tal be­fore and sell fairy tales to ex­pec­tant par­ents, who then have un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions,” says Sr Anne. NURS­ERY OR FAM­ILY ROOM? More and more hos­pi­tals have the op­tion to room in, where you have baby with you in the room the whole time, rather than in the nurs­ery and only with you for feeds. You ac­cept full re­spon­si­bil­ity for your baby’s care – from changing nap­pies to feeds – although you can call in the help of the nurs­ing staff at any time. If you go and shower or have to leave the room for any rea­son, you have to take your baby to the nurs­ery. You may be too tired for this af­ter birth. Anna says they give new moms the choice on the first night if they want to keep the baby with them for the whole night or send them off to the nurs­ery so that they can get some rest af­ter the birth and only see baby for feeds. Some women pre­fer hav­ing their ba­bies in the nurs­ery so that they can get as much rest as pos­si­ble be­fore go­ing home, but Anna rec­om­mends that the baby spend at least the last night in the room with mom to pre­pare for when they’re home all by them­selves. “Many moms feel they pay us to look af­ter their baby. But it’s im­por­tant for them to bond with their ba­bies in hos­pi­tals al­ready and prac­tise han­dling them while there’s help around.” WHO’S BOSS? If you’re a lit­tle un­sure, you might eas­ily feel you have no say over your baby and that the nurses are ac­tu­ally in con­trol. Re­mem­ber, it’s your baby. Ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for him; don’t feel in­tim­i­dated by the nurses. They’re there to help you. If you have spe­cific pref­er­ences, ask. It’s your right. If you don’t ask, the nurses will fol­low their nor­mal pro­ce­dures. But ac­cept that safety al­ways comes first. Tell the nurses if you feel un­com­fort­able with any­thing. Although the nurs­ing staff is there to help, they’re busy. You’ll get the best re­sults if you treat them with re­spect and make re­quests in a friendly but firm way rather than stamp­ing your foot. If you feel sen­si­tive, ask your hus­band to com­mu­ni­cate your needs to them. MORE ABOUT… Vis­i­tors It’s of­ten a sen­si­tive mat­ter, es­pe­cially when there’s a gag­gle of anx­ious grand­par­ents clam­ber­ing to get to see as much as pos­si­ble of the new­bie. Most hos­pi­tals have set vis­it­ing hours. Dads are usu­ally given free­dom to come and go as they wish un­til about 8pm in the evening, while morn­ing vis­its are usu­ally re­served for sib­lings and grand­par­ents, and other vis­i­tors are al­lowed in the af­ter­noon. Most hos­pi­tals only al­low moms and dads into the nurs­ery, and some also in­sist that ba­bies must be in the nurs­ery dur­ing vis­it­ing hours, so that grand­par­ents can only catch a glimpse through the win­dow. Anna rec­om­mends lim­it­ing vis­i­tors so that the fam­ily can bond first. Pain One of mom’s big­gest con­cerns dur­ing those first three days is pain, es­pe­cially af­ter a c-sec­tion. Many moms pre­fer not to take painkillers, but Anna rec­om­mends tak­ing them. They’re safe for breast­feed­ing. Your emo­tions You can ex­pect to feel tired and shaky af­ter birth, but ec­static at the same time be­cause of the en­dor­phins that are re­leased. You may strug­gle to set­tle down and get some rest. It’s also nor­mal to feel a lit­tle weepy by the third day. “Many new moms are too strict with them­selves, es­pe­cially if they have trou­ble breast­feed­ing. But it’s like rid­ing a bi­cy­cle: you have to fall off a cou­ple of times be­fore you un­der­stand how to stay on. Don’t ex­pect your­self to be per­fect. There is no per­fect mom,” Anna ad­vises. If you feel like you’re bat­tling on an emo­tional level, ask for help. Many hos­pi­tals have a psy­chol­o­gist on call. The hos­pi­tal rou­tine It can be ex­haust­ing: Start­ing as early as five in the morn­ing with a nurse tak­ing your blood pres­sure and tem­per­a­ture, fol­lowed by medicine rounds, doc­tors’ rounds, your break­fast or the cleaner com­ing to empty the bins. Later in the day you need to fit in a visit from the lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant, ad­min­is­tra­tion staff might bring in forms, menu choices are of­fered, it’s tea, cof­fee and meals, bath demon­stra­tions and vis­i­tors… You’re busy all day long un­til ten at night. Reg­u­lar ob­ser­va­tion of


mom and baby is nec­es­sary for pa­tient safety, so it’s non-ne­go­tiable, Anna says. The se­cret is to make the most of ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to take a nap. THE IDEAL LEARN­ING OP­POR­TU­NITY See your time in hos­pi­tal as an op­por­tu­nity to learn new skills while you have very ex­pe­ri­enced staff right there be­side you. Re­mem­ber, the nurses aren’t there to find fault. They see new moms feel­ing in­se­cure ev­ery sin­gle day – they’re used to it. “If you bat­tle in hos­pi­tal or have a prob­lem, a nurse is just a ring of a bell away,” Anna says. Bath time In some hos­pi­tals your baby’s bathed shortly af­ter birth, but at other fa­cil­i­ties the pol­icy is not to bath the ba­bies within the first 24 hours to al­low the vernix to be ab­sorbed by the skin. The nurses usu­ally bath your baby the first time, while you watch and learn. (Make sure you know when they’ll be bathing your baby so you can be there. In­volve your man as well so that he can see how it’s done.) The next day, they’ll ex­pect you to bath baby your­self un­der their watch­ful eye. It can be nervewrack­ing, es­pe­cially if the limp lit­tle body is slip­pery in your arms, but don’t feel in­tim­i­dated. Nappy changes If you’re un­sure about when and how to change your baby’s nap­pies, ask the nurse to be there while you do it for the first time. She should also show you what to do with the um­bil­i­cal cord and how to take care of it. She can rec­om­mend prod­ucts to use, and what’s nor­mal in baby’s nappy and what isn’t. Breast­feed­ing It’s prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant skill you can master while you’re in hos­pi­tal and still have nurses or a lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant nearby. The ad­vice can vary from nurse to nurse – like many things in life, there’s not only one right way – so see what works for you. Af­ter the nurses have helped you for the first time, try it with­out their help to see if you can get it right. En­sure that you know how to let baby latch and re­lease by the time you go home, and also what to do if you have ten­der nip­ples at a later stage. Self-care The nurs­ing staff should give you clear ad­vice about how you should han­dle and take care of a c-sec­tion in­ci­sion, stitches af­ter a nat­u­ral birth and sore boobs or nip­ples when you’re home. Make sure you know what kind of bleed­ing is nor­mal, what the signs of in­fec­tion are, and that you are able to recog­nise the symp­toms of post­na­tal de­pres­sion.

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