By Elise Jones, Mommybites blog editor
As a first-time mom, the hospital was a daunting place. It is where I choose to go and give birth to my children, twice. I prepared for the hospital by talking to my OBGYN, taking childbirth classes, reading books, and getting input from other moms. To put it simply, I was terrified. I had seen many births on movies and TV shows (I watched OBSCENE amounts of the Birth Story). It seemed every time someone went into labor and gave birth, there was A LOT of screaming, sweating, cursing, crazed women. Usually I reserved that behavior for the gym or the dry cleaners. I kept thinking, there is NO WAY I am going to push this enormous baby out. I HATE pain. I’m the biggest wimp. And I know about the pain-free options, but there were needles involved! Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like needles. I don’t even like for people to touch my neck (I’m know I’m weird). So why in the world would I volunteer for ANYONE to stick me with needles. But I digress, I obviously had both of the babies. So here are some tidbits on how I survived the hospital journey.
- Go in with a plan. Make sure your OBGYN has that plan. Make sure the other doctors in the OBGYN’s practice have that plan. AND be sure they all are on board with YOUR plan. Some doctors are in huge practices. They take turns being on call. You have a chance of going into labor when your doctor is on vacation or sleeping or just having a beer with buddies. But if he/she isn’t on call, then he/she won’t be coming to help you out at the hospital. Don’t let this alarm you too much. Just have a plan and make sure it is known by all.
- Pack a bag for yourself that includes the following: music and some way for you to play that music (I had an iPod with a doc); honey sticks (for energy boost); socks (your feet get cold for some weird reason); big ol’ granny panties that you will probably throw away (to put your ENORMOUS maxi pad in after you give birth); one big ol’ maternity dress to go home in; your toiletries (don’t even worry about makeup); a soft cotton outfit to put your baby in to go home (no need to make it cute as they’ll be all squished up in their car seat most of the time); and a camera. That’s it. Don’t take too many valuables (like jewelry) to the hospital; the baby doesn’t care about bling.
- Expect discomfort. Expect a bit of pain, or a lot in my case. Expect that your body is going to go through some serious trauma. You’re giving birth! Things move around and words are used to describe what is going on that you aren’t going to find pleasant. This isn’t a vacation; it’s bringing another human being into the world. Just go in with some realistic expectations. It’s a journey, making a child, and this is the end. It won’t be the last time parenting is tough. I think it’s just a little introduction to “What to Expect From the Next 50 Years of Life.”
- The hospital isn’t the Four Seasons. It’s a public hospital. Ever been to one? If not, I suggest you go visit the maternity floor before you go there to give birth. It’s very enlightening. They don’t have card keys to rooms (no privacy). They don’t have a fab restaurant downstairs (ever eaten cafeteria food?). The people who work there have been there and done that. That being said, you will run into some really nice nurses. Not every nurse will be nice so take special note of the ones that are. They are the ones who will take care of you (yes, you) and guide you through those first couple of days when you don’t know heads or tails because of sleep deprivation coupled with raging hormones and, “Oh look, it’s my baby.” It’s a lot. So don’t go to the hospital expecting a cushy stay, but take special note of those that give you a little extra hand.
- Sleep is for those people without kids. Unless you have a professional hand when you get home, take the time to rest as much as possible while in the hospital. Because when you get home, there isn’t going to be anyone as helpful (think of your husband keeping house; enough said) to take care of your baby. So sleep when they ask you if you want to send the baby to the nursery for a hour. You’ve got a whole lot of baby/mommy time coming in the following weeks/months/years. Give yourself some “you” time and you’ll be a lot saner once you hit home.
Hopefully, now that you’ve read my tips, the hospital doesn’t seem like such a intimidating place. Really, after a couple of months, you’re going to forget all about the hospital and it will seem like a blur. So go in with the comfort of knowing you’ll be walking out in a couple of days with a shiny, new baby!
Do you have any questions or tips to add to my list? Share/ask them here and get feedback from other moms and me. If you have really technical question, I can hook you up with an expert!