10 Things To Ask The Midwives BEFORE You Leave The Hospital
Midwives, or as I like to call them, angels of the night, are the most important support to you during those first few days in the hospital.
It is a very bewildering time; you are joyful but overwhelmed, excited but anxious and believe me, these people are your main link to sanity. Although they are very busy and may always seem rushed, it is very important that you use the opportunity of your stay in hospital to extract as much information as possible.
Once you leave the safety of the ward, you can feel like the rug has been pulled from under your feet a little, so dig that notebook out of the bottom of your maternity bag and arm yourself with as many deets as you can!
1. How to Deal With Baby's Bellybutton
Even after my third child, I struggled to remember how to change the nappy around the little stump left over from the umbilical chord. It does look a bit gicky but your baby won't feel a thing, so have a midwife sit with you for a few nappy changes just so you don't feel panicked.
2. How to Swaddle
There are differing opinions over whether you should wrap up your baby or not. Some think it can inhibit limb growth, but I found it very effective and kept my baby feeling very secure just like she was tightly nestled inside my belly. Ask your midwife to show you the correct way to wrap your baby into their blanket so they sleep soundly and don't 'startle' as much.
3. Bath Time
On about Day 2, the midwives might suggest you give your baby their first bath. I worried about this for at least three hundred hours beforehand as I didn't know what to expect. Crying, a lot of crying - that's what you can expect. It is a nice idea to ask Daddy to be there as in our house it became a tradition that Daddy always gave the first bath. The midwives will show you the best way to clean baby in a safe and quick way to minimise tears (from everyone involved).
4. How to wind
Winding a baby is a science in itself. No baby is the same, and I had three different methods on my three children that eventually worked. Although the midwives can give you some suggested methods of burping, you will find that you do figure out yourself what suits your baby best. Rubbing the base of my palm in circles around their back for a bit usually worked but your angle of the night will show you how to work your mummy magic.
5. How to Look for Infection
Some of my friends did get infected stitches, or their c-section scar didn't heal correctly. You will probably have a public health nurse do your check up a few days after you leave the hospital, but it is a good idea to ask your midwife what to look for, so you catch it as early as possible. Same for mastitis - a condition you can get if your breasts get infected. It is quite common while feeding but the quicker it is spotted, the better. Your midwife will explain what you should do but a temperature is usually the first sign.
6. Get the Latch Right
Even if you feel like a right pain, keep asking the midwife to sit with you the first few times you are trying to latch the baby on and ask her to monitor you. I spent many frustrated hours in silent agony behind those hospital curtains because I didn't want to annoy the hospital staff. It was a big mistake and resulted in very sore feeds. Yes, they are busy, but they want to make sure every mum leaves the hospital feeling confident about feeding their baby - make sure you take the time to get it right.
7. Signs of PND
Every new mum feels overwhelmed and underconfident. You have just had a major life experience which you can never prepare fully for. On top of that, you have the most vulnerable creature that you have to keep alive. You hurt, and you are swimming in hormones, and you will cry a lot. It's when those normal baby blues pass that things can get more complicated. Ask your midwife what the signs of a more serious Post Natal Depression might be. Try to have your partner or your mum there too so they can help you recognise it should it come your way.
8. Temperature Watch
Around the time I had my daughter, I would have listed watching temperatures as one of my main hobbies. Is the baby's room too hot? Too cold? Are they wearing enough clothes? Is the bath hot enough? And their body temperature had me all up in a heap. It is a good idea to have a thermometer, so you don't get too preoccupied but make sure you know what to do if your baby does get too hot.
9. Nap Times/Sleeping positions
Obsessing over sleep patterns is usually a waste of your time at this early stage. Your baby should sleep a lot the first few weeks as they are growing rapidly. I was really shocked that all the baby did was eat and sleep at the start. It is a good idea to ask your midwife about when you should wake them to feed or how many hours you can expect them to sleep just to give yourself a reality check. Sleeping positions also caused me a lot of concern, but here in Ireland, it is advised we let babies sleep on their backs.
10. Reflux Advice
Reflux in babies can often go undiagnosed for a few weeks. It can be a very distressful time for babies as they are very uncomfortable after every feed. We would have to keep my son sitting upright for a half an hour after every feed which was quite difficult especially in the middle of the night! Worse cases may have to be treated with medication, but please do ask your midwife what signs you should be keeping an eye out for.
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