Looking ahead: Your Hospital Stay After Birth

newborn one minute oldAlong with caring for you and your baby after birth, the hospital staff can answer any questions you may have, help you and your partner get to know your newborn, and build your confidence as your baby's caregivers and parent.

Most hospitals also offer a variety of educational videos, classes, and consulting services during this time on topics such as postpartum exercises, breast feeding, parenting, infant bathing, safety, and overall care.

Rooming in is a popular option at many hospitals. Rather than your baby spending the majority of his/her time in the nursery, you spend extended periods of time together in your room, with your newborn staying in the nursery, only when/if you desire. You may wish to keep your baby with you overnight, or just during feeding times, the choice is yours. Hospital staff will help you work within their guidelines for you and your baby's time together and the visiting time for family and friends.

Sibling Participation

If you have other children, involving them with you postpartum stay at the hospital can both provide an exciting introduction to the new baby and reassure them about their separation from you. The following ideas may be helpful:

  • Greet, hug, and spend time talking to your older children and then go to the nursery together
  • Have a birthday party complete with singing and cake
  • Explain that this is the baby's birthday and the baby may receive gifts just like they do on their birthdays
  • Have the baby give a special present to each of his/her older siblings
  • Give your older children the bag of goodies (if appropriate) that you received when admitted to the hospital
  • While you and your baby are in the hospital, have your partner take your older children out to dinner or a movie for a special time together
  • Give your other children your hospital phone number so they can call you, or be sure to call them every day

When You're Discharged From the Hospital

Your length of hospitalization will vary depending on your method of delivery, Cesarean section of vaginal, and your medical benefits plan. Whether you spend a few days with the knowledgeable staff at your hospital, go through an early discharge education session, or utilize a visiting nurse program through your medical benefits plan, ask for specific information on the following topics.

For You

  • Personal hygiene and breast care
  • Use of sanitary napkins
  • Episiotomy or abdominal incision care
  • Expected vaginal discharge
  • Bowel movements
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Edema (swelling)
  • Breast discomfort
  • Breast feeding
  • Breast pump rental
  • Nutrition, fluids, and weight loss
  • Exercise
  • When to expect a menstrual period
  • Sexual activity
  • Contraception
  • Returning to work
  • Rubella vaccine (if applicable)
  • Medications
  • Warning signs (may include fever, chills, abnormal blood pressure, foul smelling vaginal discharge, uterine pain and tenderness, mastitis, leg pain and tenderness)

For Your Baby

  • PKU testing - PKU (phenylketonuria) is a congenital disease of newborns that occurs due to their inability to metabolize the substance phenylalanine. If the disease is found, a diet low in phenylalanine is given to prevent future problems. If untreated, these children may develop brain damage, and often have convulsions and skin rashes. Everyone newborn is now tested for this condition (and depending on your state, other conditions) before leaving the hospital.
  • Bilirubin test - Jaundice is a common condition in newborns, usually occurring in the second or third day of lie. It is caused by too much Bilirubin (the orange colored pigment in bile) in the baby's blood, which is a result of the liver's not being fully mature. Jaundice usually goes away within one week, but may last a few days longer in breast fed babies. Your baby's doctor may recommend a blood test be done in the newborn period to determine the level of Bilirubin. If Bilirubin levels are higher than acceptable, special therapy can be prescribed.
  • Feeding
  • Circumcision care
  • Baby care
  • Obtaining a birth certificate
  • Footprints and photos (for baby book)
  • Infant car seat use
  • Anything else specific for your baby

Reprinted by Pregnancy.org from Her HealthCare.