Checking into the hospital to have a baby is a far cry from checking into a five-star resort, (we can all agree on that!), but many hospitals are now giving mamas lots of options including rooming in with baby and actual room service! Snacks delivered on command? Sign me up!
I’ve given birth to two children and I think I found the way to get the most out of my post-delivery stay:
1. Stay as long as they will let you.
Several of my friends had their babies and hurried home. Even though I wasn’t a mother yet, I remember thinking at the time, “Why not stay and let the nurses take care of you?” So when it came time for the birth of my daughter Madeline I was determined to stay as long as insurance allowed (which happened to be two nights). I was so very thankful mainly because, as a first time parent, I was terrified to bring her home. After all I was now totally responsible for a tiny human. Scary, right? The birth of my son this past December was no different–I intended to stay as long as possible. But my motivation this time was different. I would have to get up in the middle of the night to make it to my early morning scheduled induction. I also knew an energetic toddler would be waiting for me at home. Rest is what I needed, and rest is what I got.
2. Room in with baby (or not).
This brings me to one of the new hot-topic issues surrounding childbirth: Rooming in with baby. It means baby stays in your hospital room instead of going to the nursery. I’m told studies have shown it’s beneficial to both mother and baby, which is why many hospitals are encouraging moms to make that choice. When an over-eager and very young nursing assistant asked if I would like my son Bennett to sleep in my room, I responded with an emphatic “No!” She proceeded to tell me (lecture me) about the benefits of rooming in and said it was a hospital “best-care practice.” Um, still no. Finally, she wheeled Bennett off to the nursery. I knew I was running a marathon not a sprint, so I needed sleep! Don’t worry! The nurses still brought Bennett back at regular intervals overnight so I could nurse him. Bennett also stayed in my room during the day to meet all his adoring relatives. The choice about rooming in, of course, is yours. I simply made the best one for me and my family.
3. All the “free” stuff.
Yes, I’m talking about those mesh panties. But that’s not all. There’s the all-purpose nipple ointment, the giant pads, Epifoam, Dermoplast…the list goes on! Run out of supplies? You don’t have to run to the store or send your slightly unsure husband to pick anything up. Press a button and a nurse or nursing assistant happily delivers the items to your room. Technically, you are paying for the supplies via your insurance, but take as many of those mesh panties as you need and want! Your insurance company is not going to send you a mesh panty bill in the mail.
4. Food delivered on a tray.
Who would turn down a personal chef? Certainly not me! I concede that hospital food isn’t a culinary masterpiece. But you select from a menu and a hot meal is delivered on a tray to your bedside. That’s truly what I miss most about my time in the maternity ward. Someone else worrying about the cooking, and the time to eat a leisurely meal with little to no interruptions from a crying baby or impatient toddler. I’m told one of the local hospitals even has a snack menu that you can order from nearly 24 hours a day with tasty things like sandwich wraps. I didn’t get the memo about that before the birth of my children!
5. Support and gratitude.
I can’t thank the hospital staff enough for taking such good care of me and both my children after they were born. My husband and I made sure to show our gratitude at the beginning of my hospital stays. Before both of our children even arrived we gave a big jar filled with candy to the labor and delivery team. Once we were moved to the maternity ward we gave the staff there a giant basket of cookies. We can’t take credit for those ideas. My husband’s sister (who happens to be a nurse) made the suggestion. We weren’t bribing the hospital staff to take better care of us (although we did receive excellent care and lots of thank yous!).