Everyone's birth experience is different and unique as the grains of sand on a beach. Whether you have a natural birth, a c-section, a water birth, or a birth at home with your midwife, we all are engaging in the same act as it pertains to bringing a new life into this world. What some women experience in the hospital setting varies as well. You might be in a public hospital or a private one. You may have your personal physician there with you or a complete stranger. These are a few tips that will help you during your hospital stay.
If you're going to your last few prenatal appointments, make sure you have your overnight bag with you just in case. Your doctor might find it necessary for you to go into labor right away if she/he finds that you are dilating or some complications might've risen since your last prenatal appointment. It's always best to be over prepared rather than under prepared. Some items that might be necessary would include toothbrush, toothpaste, slippers, deodorant, extra set of clothes, comb or brush, chapstick (you will be thirsty), contact lenses (you will get sweaty and wouldn't want to wear glasses as they will slip off), throw blanket (hospitals are usually cold), and extra hair ties. Make sure you take someone with you on your last few appointments as well, having a good support system if you go into labor suddenly will cause less stress for you and baby.
Depending on the type of birth you will be having, your hospital stay might be long and drawn out or prompt and quick. You will be paired up with a team of nurses that (hopefully) will be a dynamic duo during your stay. You will be assigned a few nurses more than likely as they will switch out between shifts. Keep in mind that if you get a great team of nurses that end up coaching you superbly throughout the whole process, writing a letter to the hospital and addressing the nurses by name is a great way of acknowledging the awesome work they did. Of course, we know YOU did all the work but their coaching might've helped you out in ways you didn't think possible, especially if you're a new mother. Ask as many questions as you have to your nurses while you're there. Is the shape of my baby's head normal? How many diaper changes is normal? What is jaundice, will it go away? Am I holding my baby the right way? Is my baby latched on my breast correctly? Ask as many questions as you can think of, they are there to help you and are full of necessary information you need to know.
Know who you want to be around you during labor. You might be yelling, gripping the rails on your hospital bed or a peep might not come out of you. Choose your birth partner wisely. This is someone you can trust, will see the best and worst of you, someone that you wouldn't mind seeing the not-so pretty aspect of giving birth, has a strong stomach, and will generally make your entire labor go smoother. The most obvious choice for your birth partner might be your husband, right? Well, if you've been with your husband for years and have developed a keen sense of trust then he would be the first pick. But if you think the whole process will be romantic and trauma free, think again. You might not want him to be there as some men claim they would've rather gone on not being present during childbirth. Don't take this personally as it is completely normal. Maybe your mother or mother in law might be good picks but make sure you have a close bond with them. Perhaps even your sister, best friend, sister-in law, or a cousin might be good comforters. But make sure you choose wisely as it is a very special yet exhausting experience to go through. You might end up choosing someone that made you feel uncomfortable, awkward, or even more stressed out. Remember, your childbirth experience only comes around once so make sure you think this through.
Expect to be seen by a variety of visitors after giving birth. So, you just went through an intense labor and you want to relax right? Wrong! You will be visited by doctors, nurses, pediatricians, lactation consultants, you will have someone asking you to fill out the birth certificate forms for your baby, nurse managers, nutritionists, and on top of that your family eagerly waiting to see the new babe. Make sure you rest quite a good amount for the weeks leading up to the birth since these visitors will make you hardly get any sleep after the most intensive part of pregnancy, labor! It can be overwhelming but don't be surprised that you won't be getting that much rest over the course of the next few weeks after giving birth.