Wednesday, January 6, 2010
IN THE HOSPITAL
Hospitals are scary and by far the least favorite place of most people....unless you're a doctor, nurse or in the field. There are endless hospital procedures and rules that to us seem ridiculous but to those enforcing those rules aren't silly at all. Certain people handle certain things. Food people handle food, Laundry people handle nightgowns and housekeeping handles vacuuming at the one time you find to sleep. Please don't ask the anyone else to bring you food or ice chips besides the designated person. It just wont make it to your mouth and you'll just frustrate yourself by having to ask again. The nurses are the backbone of the hospital. They are wonderful angels that seem to have a halo glowing around their heads as they help you walk to the bathroom, they know where to put ice packs and give you a run down of what you need to do to get you through the first two days as a mother. If you need to vent and feel the need to be bitchy, take it out on anyone except the nurses. You need them! The baby starts to cry, ring for a nurse. Your stitches hurt too much to bend over the isolate to change the baby's diaper? A nurse can diaper a squirming baby in a blink of an eye. Can't get the baby to feed off both breasts instead of just one? Call the Lactation Specialist. They'll fix it. (You may not like it, but they'll fix it). In desperate need of fresh ice for that pack you're keeping between your legs to relieve the soreness and swelling from all that stretching and stitching? Politely ask the nurse...they understand and they will help.
An important thing to do no matter how busy you are or how silly it seems to you is sign up for the tour of the maternity ward. This tour will give you the important knowledge of how to enter the hospital when you are laboring and how to proceed directly to the relative calm of the labor and delivery ward from the emergency room. And please, make sure all your paperwork has been done in advance. Let me repeat, MAKE SURE YOUR PAPERWORK IS DONE IN ADVANCE! Your obstetrician's office will probably give you a simple little pre-admission form sometime in your second trimester. They will then forward it to the hospital for you or tell you how to send it in yourself. It also wouldn't hurt to call the hospital about a week after submitting this form to make sure they received it and ask if they need any additional information.
After check-in there are generally two paths into a delivery room. The one you take is largely determined by whether your doctor has admitted you into labor room after examining you in his or her office or if you have come directly to the hospital without first being examined by your O.B. If you haven't been examined prior sometimes you will be examined in a holding area called triage. If your labor looks like it is progressing toward a dilated cervix, you will be awarded a labor room. It it is questionable or if your cervix is still tightly closed you might be sent home for a few hours to see if anything develops.
Your labor room also may be decided by your insurance, timing and who knows what other deciding factors. You may be in a quiet room all alone without even a TV after or you could be a nicely remodeled facility with windows, a TV, a telephone and even a chair for your guest. If you hae a scheduled C-section or any complication then it's right to a surgical suite for you.
One major difference between delivering vaginally and by C-section is that, since the C-section is a major surgery, you will need tos pend some time in a recovery room where surgical nurses can monitor your blood pressure and other vital signs. After a couple hours you will be moved again and this is where you get your room on the maternity ward where you will get to know your baby and recover for a couple of days before entering the real world. Even if you delivered vaginally and without incident in a birthing room, you'll be moved shortly after.
Maternity wards are called the happiest place on earth. There's nothing but beautiful babies lined up in plastic bassinet like beds and wrapped up tight. There may be a more traffic on this ward than you would normally like but everyone is happy and loving and don't' be surprised at the grand parents that will stop to see your baby as well as every other little miracle. When you are feeling up to it, take a stroll down to the nursery windows where they are lined up peering at the babies and you'll practically get a standing ovation as you point your little angel out in the crowd. This is a rare moment in motherhood where everything is perfect and sweet.
There are private and semiprivate rooms for new mommies. If you think you're going to do a lot of random entertaining keep in mind that privacy is scarce even in a private room. Someone can come in at any time to check your pads and stitches no matter what you're doing. There are a few things you can bring with you that may make you feel more at home like a special pillow that doesn't smell like hospital disinfectant, a blanket can be helpful too. A bathrobe and some slippers are essential. Bottled water is another luxury you may want to bring a long. The water they leave in those little pitchers taste just like the plastic it is sitting in. You will need a lot of water, especially if you're breast feeding so ask someone to pick you up a six pack. Another essential...your hairdryer. Presentable, dried hair just makes you feel refreshed and more important. This has nothing to do with taking a million photos in the next 24 hours. We all know you just feel better if you can dry your hair rather than leave it wet or dry it with some garbage dryer that barely blows any air. Lip balm is the last essential ingredient to your hospital stay. You will get chapped lips but remember to bring the balm that doesn't smell all juicy and rosy. Babies are sensitive to smells. Do not bring candles, jewelry, toiletries in glass containers or your favorite pair of jeans (sorry, they will not fit yet!).
In most cases even after a C-section you will have some time right after birth to count your baby's fingers and toes and introduce yourself. the delivery room nurse will usually weight and measure the baby in your presence, often while your doctor is doing any necessary repair work on you. Then, the baby disappears. The daddy usually goes to the nursery, the obstetrician goes home to sleep and the nurse moves on to to see other laboring woman. The primary function of the nursing staff is to observe he baby for the first few hours after this or her birth. Statistically, the most serious health problems that are not identified immediately after delivery will become apparent within the first twenty four hours of life. The baby will be given a bath and then given the standard issue uniform of newborns and then swaddled in a blanket. They will also be given antibiotic drops in their eyes. This is done to kill any stray bacteria that the baby may have picked up as he exited your body. They also receive identification bands in the nursery. After all this, the baby will be put into a clear sided plastic bassinet and parked alongside all the other new babies. Tomorrow we'll continue and talk more about your room and board stay in your luxury sweet at the hospital.