You’ve just met your baby, and the experience has been amazing. But now what? These tips will help you navigate the next few crazy, exhausting, miraculous days in hospital. By Lisa Witepski
A hospital isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. The horrors of hospital food aside, there are the 4am visits to draw blood, confusing advice that conflicts with what you’ve learnt at antenatal class, and a constant stream of medical personnel in and out of your room – all while you’re trying to get to know the slightly terrifying being who’ll be sharing the rest of your life with you. Here’s how to calm the chaos.
Book a private room
Sharing a ward when you’ve had your tonsils out is one thing. The messy nature of childbirth makes sharing a completely different matter: This is one time when you really want to heal in private. It can also be stressful to hear the crying of another newborn when you’re struggling to soothe your own. If you’re able to book a suite where your husband can stay with you, even better.
Ask family to bring in food
Chances are you’re going to be feeling ravenous for a few days after the intensity of birth − especially if you’re breastfeeding. Tasteless hospital food is probably not going to satisfy your suddenly giant appetite if you have to wait for specific mealtimes.
Don’t be afraid to challenge the nurses
Maternal instinct is real, so if you’re not into watching the nurses care for your baby when you’re just dying to do the job, don’t be scared to step in. Just because you’re new to this, doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing. But, then again, don’t be scared to ask for help. The nurses have loads of experience and it’s their job to share what they know. They can provide a great buffer zone before the reality of caring for your baby at home hits.
Schedule a visit with a lactation consultant
Breastfeeding can be tricky − even if it is a natural process. Many new moms struggle, so booking a session with a lactation consultant just after your baby’s birth can boost your confidence.
Probably the only thing you can be certain of when you have a newborn is that you’re going to feel exhausted. If you’re not up for visitors, say so – your friends will understand, especially if they’ve had their own children. The same goes for hospital staff: if your room has a “no entry” sign, using it will help you get rest between visits from the many specialists popping in to monitor your progress.
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.