If you’re like me, you turned to blogs, articles, books and friends for information about what it’s really like in the hospital after you deliver your precious bundle of joy. There were still a few things I was completely unprepared for, so I am sharing my wisdom with you so you’re not as blindsided as I was. You’re welcome.
1. Head to the bathroom BEFORE you think you need to go. It takes a ridiculous amount of time to actually get yourself sitting down ready to do your business. First, just getting out of that bed deserves applause. Then you slowly shuffle your way into the bathroom, only to realize that you have to fill up your lovely little squirt bottle first. Cue running water … if you wait too long, you’ll doing the potty dance while waiting for that tiny lifesaving bottle to fill up. Not fun, seeing as how you just pushed out a human.
2. Pregnancy cravings are STILL with you. I was in some sort of magical denial that when I gave birth my daily craving for ice cream would go away. Trust me, it didn’t. Come prepared with a little bit of whatever it was you HAD TO HAVE while preggers. Unless you want to quit your addiction cold turkey while your body and brain are also adjusting to expelling a human. Not a good idea.
3. You can bring your own pain relievers. The nice nurse who comes around every few hours asking if you’d like some ibuprofen to ease your pain is your angel, or so you think. Until you get the hospital bill and realize that each 500mg of blessed pain relief was $10, PER PILL! You can buy a bulk-size bottle that will last you two years for the price of one little hospital pill. Just let them know you have your own, and if you need something stronger, tell them to put it on your tab.
4. Ask for a written list of your nurses. You’re probably going to have plenty of them, and it can be hard to remember so many names after such a whirlwind experience. Those people deserve the biggest and best thank you card or gift of everyone. Sure, the doctor actually delivers your baby, but the nurse does all the dirty work. Like catching your poo as you’re pushing and looking at that bloody mess in the toilet to reassure you that it’s actually normal to lose that much afterwards. Seriously, get a list so you can send them a token of appreciation. They deserve it.
5. Earplugs and sleep masks are a great idea. There are little lights everywhere in your room. The monitors, the sliver in the curtains, under your door, your partner’s cell phone. It can make it difficult to get any rest during the small amount of time you have before your baby wakes up again. And earplugs: trust me, just do it. Your partner is in the room to wake you up if the baby needs you. Earplugs will block out all the hallway noise, the “quiet” shuffle of nurses coming in to check things out, the beep of the machines, even the screaming of the baby next door. If you want to get any sleep in the hospital, bring these two things. You can thank me later.
6. Stretchy, semi-form-fitting yoga pants. Get a million cheap pairs. It seems like you wouldn’t want to put on anything form-fitting or tight immediately after giving birth, but remember those mommy diapers? It feels weird enough walking around with an enormous pad; now picture doing that while it shifts from side to side with each step. Yeah, you want that sucked in nice and snug so it doesn’t move around. Bonus points if the pants have a high waist so you can give your post-birth jelly belly some support too.
7. Bring your own bath towel. Yes, they provide them for you. Yes, they are the size of hand towels. Plus, with all the fluids and nastiness that hospital towels mop up on a daily basis, they use some very powerful cleaners. This leaves an itchy, bleach-smelling, stiff towel for you to use on your bruised and battered body. Best to bring your own soft towel, possibly one you don’t plan on bringing back home with you.
8. Try to shed your modesty as soon as you check in. During labor and delivery, you really don’t have the option of keeping your private parts private. Even after the birth modesty is hard to maintain, when you are trying to awkwardly support your baby’s head and body while holding your boob and trying to get the blasted two to meet. Ask that lactation consultant to watch you closely, and even move your boob for you, if need be. Don’t be embarrassed about it. It’s just a boob and a baby’s mouth. Having an expert on hand to help you figure it out is a great alternative to holding a screaming, hungry infant at 2 a.m., desperately Googling “latch techniques,” “why won’t my baby nurse,” and “secrets to breastfeeding” while searching for your pediatrician’s after hours number.
There are certainly more important things to be prepared for in the hospital, like caring for a new, tiny, perfect human, but don’t discount the validity of what I just shared with you. It’s these little things that can (literally) help you survive those first few days. Good luck!