Soon-to-be-parents can plan for ages about parenthood but still struggle because parenthood is just willed with surprises.
When it comes to becoming a parent, the only thing that moms can expect is the unexpected. Even after the baby arrives, and all seems steady for the time being, those initial days in the hospital will pack a series of uncertainties. Moms end up with far more questions than they do answers during their hospital stay. The fun has only begun, and the actual delivery of the child was only the tip of the iceberg.
Unless expectant mothers pry and pull information from more seasoned moms, they will end up lying in the hospital room, baby in arms, not having a clue about what is going on around them. The post-birth hospital stay can be a confusing one to navigate, but it doesn’t have to be.
Let us help with that, mommas. Here are 20 things that no one tells moms about that first couple of days of parenthood. Moms have questions and we have answers.
20. THE ROOM GOODIES ARE FOR THE TAKING
Show us one person out there who doesn’t love free stuff. Babies require a lot of things. There are diapers and formula to buy, and those items don’t come cheap. Clothes and hats need to be purchased as do pacis and nose suctioning tools and don’t forget the bottles. Children are expensive, so if you can grab some free items to help care for your kiddo, then more power to you!
Your recovery room will likely be stocked full of things that you and your newborn will use. When it is time to go home, load your bags up. Take the diapers, the formula, the hospital pacifiers (because they are indeed the best out there), and the mesh undies. These are the most comfortable things that will ever grace your body. Trust us on this. Leave no knickers behind.
19. YOUR SOCKS AND FLIP FLOPS AREN’T COMING HOME
Hospital socks are ugly (especially when they get paired with nothing but the generic hospital gown), and by the time you waddle around the bare, germy floor for a couple of days, they are pretty gross. Consider those things, as well as any shower flip flips that you might have been sporting, to be disposable. Don’t even try and take those gross things home. Sure, we love freebies as much as the next person, but while the hospital socks are free for the taking, they are also germ factories that should have a match taken to them once you get discharged to go home.
18. REVOLVING DOOR OF VISITORS
Babies are thrilling, and you won’t be the only one who looks forward to staring at Junior day in and day out. Expect those first few days of parenthood to be a continuous showing of visitors who want to congratulate you on your new bundle of joy and who want to snuggle the latest member of your family. While visitors are well-meaning, they can be tiresome. Giving birth is hard work, and if people are coming in and out of your room constantly, then you might find yourself in desperate need of some quiet and rest. Feel free to gently put the kibosh on well-wishers until after you and the baby leave the hospital.
17. NOTHING WILL EVER FEEL AS GOOD AS THAT FIRST SHOWER
And we mean nothing.
The hospital bathroom is pretty underwhelming, so before you give birth, you likely aren’t chomping at the bit to get in there and scrub off. It is far from spa-like quality. Then you go through labor. You realize the art of childbirth is messy. You lie in your bed feeling tired and icky, and suddenly that hospital shower looks downright magical. That initial rinse off is pure magic. A word of caution though, keep the water temperature down. A spray that is too warm can toy with BP levels in some women and send them tumbling to the bathroom floor.
16. THAT FIRST NUMBER TWO WILL STAY WITH YOU FOREVER
Pushing out a baby is something that moms know is inevitable. They spend nine, solid months learning about and preparing for the big heave-ho. Knowing that you will soon push a human out of your body can be daunting, but it’s all part of the deal. It’s no great surprise. The pain and strain of that first number two following childbirth though? That is a part of the experience that moms don’t usually prepare for, and it’s almost as uncomfortable. As soon as you give birth, ask your nursing staff for a stool softener. Hopefully, that makes your trips to the bathroom a little more tolerable until your body settles.
15. NURSING MIGHT BE HARDER THAN YOU THOUGHT
Nursing your new baby might come as naturally and easy as taking your next breath. It might also be challenging and require quite a bit of assistance and persistence. Some moms become discouraged at their ability to nurse their babies in those first few days of motherhood. If you find that breastfeeding is for the birds, try not to give up just yet. The hospital is packed full of excellent resources that can help you and your baby get the hang of feeding practices before you head home. Nurses are pure wonders at assisting new moms in figuring out the proper hold and latch, and lactation consultants will visit you in your room for private tutorials, according to American Pregnancy.
14. YOU HAVE TO PASS TESTS BEFORE YOU CAN LEAVE
Once mom is recovered from childbirth, and the baby is looking picture perfect, families will be aching to get home to their personal space. Mom and baby won’t be entirely done with their hospital stay until they pass a critical test or two. The car seat test must be aced before dad can load everyone into the family vehicle and head on home.
Car seats must be properly installed to get the green light from the hospital. Babies that arrived before 37 weeks have to undergo Infant Car Seat Challenge, according to Consumer Reports. This particular test determines whether or not a premature baby can safely ride in the semi-reclined position of a standard car seat.
13. SO MUCH MONITORING AFTERWARDS
Expectant moms know that they will endure a decent dose of monitoring when they are pregnant, but they are sometimes surprised that even more monitoring occurs once the baby is born. Just because your little lamb is now living on the outside doesn’t mean that doctors and nurses are quite done with you or him. Those initial days spent in the hospital will be filled with heart rate and wound checks, infant toe pricks, and lots of questions and discussions regarding your emotional state. Health care professionals want to make sure that you and your baby are in tip-top shape before they send you home.
12. FOOD IS BROUGHT RIGHT TO YOU
Once you become a parent, you also become a waitress, a chef, and a dishwasher who works 24 hours a day, free of charge. I currently spend about 80% of my waking hours standing in the kitchen feeding humans. When you are laid up in the hospital, recovering from birth, hospital meals get brought to your bedside. No, this isn’t some four-star quality food, but it is warm and ready, you have some choice in what you order, and you get to eat it in bed. That is the closest thing you will be getting to a holiday for a while. Relish in this hospital grub, mommas.
11. YOU CAN BRING IN YOUR OWN BEDDING
Generally speaking, hospitals are not known for their ability to provide plush bedding and soft linens, so feel free to bring your own if that is what it takes to make you comfy and cozy. Go ahead and pull a Kardashian if the mood strikes you.
Both Kylie Jenner and Khloé Kardashian lugged around their high thread count linens and feather-like pillows when they gave birth to their daughters at Cedar-Sinai Hospital. Post-birth rest is incredibly important to a new mom, so set up your space however you want it. If you know that you struggle to sleep anywhere but your own bed, then plan accordingly.
10. YOU COULD GET HIT WITH THE ITCH
After your baby arrives, you will likely know that some unpleasantries will follow. Pain at the site you delivered from is to be expected as is sheer exhaustion. Moms typically know about these postpartum hurdles, but they rarely know about ailments such as itching.
Problematic skin woes can strike during the postpartum phase, and catch plenty of moms off guard. If itching occurs directly after your birthing experience, it’s likely because of the meds that got administered during childbirth. While doctors can handle this roadblock to comfort fairly quickly, irritated skin can plague parents long after they leave the hospital because of fluctuating hormone levels and sometimes because of thyroid issues, per The Soccer Mom Blog.
9. IT’S THREE DAYS OF RIDING THE TALLEST EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER EVER
Becoming a mother will bring on the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. One minute you will be grinning from ear to ear, while the next minute you will be crying over every little thing. Thanks to those pesky hormones, you will likely be all over the place emotionally while you recover at the hospital. Share your thoughts and feelings with the nursing staff. Believe us, they have seen and heard it all. You can’t phase these people. If your emotional rollercoaster ride lasts longer than a couple of weeks or becomes debilitating, seek help. No one needs to experience parenthood underneath a cloud of depression.
8. SIBLINGS MIGHT NOT GIVE YOU THAT MAGICAL MOMENT
For mothers delivering their second, third, or fourth baby, nothing compares to the beauty that takes place when your new baby meets their siblings. For parents, this meeting of siblings is fireworks… sometimes. Kids are as unpredictable as the day is long, and while you might imagine big sister taking little sister into her arms for a picture perfect moment, the first meeting could go very differently. Don’t get discouraged if that initial contact between siblings doesn’t go as planned. There are lots of years left to create memories and moments that will tattoo your heart.
7. MOMS WHO HAVE C-SECTIONS ENDURE A LONGER STAY
Moms who deliver their babies the natural way will likely stay in the hospital for around 24 to 48 hours, according to BabyCenter. When babies arrive in the world this way, there are typically fewer complications to deal with. Mothers who find themselves meeting their baby for the first time in a surgical setting might have to hunker down and spend a bit more time in recovery. Mothers who endure a cesarian section might spend up to fours days in the hospital. C-sections are major surgical procedures. Thus they need careful monitoring before mom can be safely discharged.
6. NO BIRTH CERTIFICATE, NO DISCHARGE
Completing your baby’s birth certificate is likely the furthest thing from your mind in those first few days of parenthood. However, you will not be leaving the labor and delivery ward without having one filled out and signed. Some parents don’t want to settle on a name immediately, and this creates some stress because until the birth certificate is official, your baby stays put. UM Women’s Health says any changes to the document, like a name, for example, can be made later on. If you want to change your kid’s name after you get home, it is an option. You may have to pay an extra fee for the new documents, but at least you can do so if you choose.
5. YOU CAN LEARN A LOT DURING YOUR STAY
If this is your first baby, then you might spend your hospital days wondering how in the heck you will ever learn all that you need to know to become Mom of the Year. Babies are so new, small and fragile and they seem to require so much attention. If you have never done this before, it can be intimidating. Look at your hospital stay like it is a 48-hour crash course in parenting. The nursing staff can be the best baby teachers that you will ever have. Babble explains they handle infant issues and new mommy woes for a living. Anything from a perfect swaddle to a supreme latch can be shown to you by your nurse.
4. IT’S OKAY TO HOLD A NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION THERE
Mothers these days make sure to schedule in a newborn photography session long before the baby ever arrives. While they might try and book it during the weeks following their arrival back home, there is no reason why you can’t hold the session in the hospital. Moms, for some reason, don’t often know that this option is perfectly fine. Think about it, you have some help at the hospital, there isn’t a whole lot to do while you are laid up in recovery, and your baby won’t be getting any younger! If you want images of your son or daughter’s first few days, have your photographer on call.
3. NURSES WILL BE IN AND OUT OF YOUR ROOM CONSTANTLY
We established that lots of post-delivery checkups take place in those first few days after giving birth. The nursing staff makes their rounds at all hours of the day and the night. They don’t pop in when it is a convenient time for you; they have far too much to do during their shift to work around your naps and visitors. They come when they come. You might be nursing your baby, eating your meal or sleeping soundly in the middle of the night. Don’t be surprised if these tend to be the times where nurses waltz in and take your vitals. Nursing staff frequently changes too, so don’t get attached to any particular staff members. In a few hours, she will be replaced by someone new.
2. GETTING DRESSED IS OPTIONAL
Yes, yes. We know. Moms on social media are dressed to the nines while recovering from childbirth. They don makeup, pre-baby jeans, and blown out hair for the camera. Don’t try to live up to these ridiculous expectations ladies. Don’t feel pressured to get dressed at all! If you want to spend 48 hours in a hospital gown, because the mere thought of clothes makes you shudder, then go right ahead. Those first few days of motherhood can be pretty physically taxing as well as messy. Hospital gowns can make things so much easier and so much more comfortable.
1. MEDS ARE THEIR TO EASE PAIN, SO TAKE THEM
No one gives out shiny medals if you can forego meds after labor and delivery. For some reason, moms think that not taking painkillers after childbirth shows some second-tier strength. Guys, I am here to tell you all, if you are in pain, take the meds. No one cares, and no one is going to judge you for seeking physical comfort. If they do, then they have never given birth before. If you are hurting you can not very well be much help to your little one, can you? Don’t be shy to tell your nurse that your body is screaming and you need something to take the edge off.