All controversy aside, for the most part, hospital births in and of themselves are an amazing feat of human ingenuity. There is a huge building fully equipped with everything we could possibly need or want in the delivery of our baby, staffed by fully trained doctors and nurses who can answer every question (except what baby's favorite flavor of ice cream will be) and who are paid to ensure that we are given the best care during our stay. There are comfortable beds that move at the touch of a button, TV, meal service, free diapers and baby gear, and lactation experts just to name a few.
If the baby had a difficult birth or is premature, they are in the best place to receive the best care—with all the latest knowledge and modern medicine to speedily recover and head home. It's amazing when we think of it that way.
Of course, every hospital is different. Every nurse and doctor are different. Even every mother and her birth are different. Most babies don't need any medical intervention after birth at all (which can screw with hospital policy, but we'll worry about that later) while some babies need lots of medical assistance after birth and for a while afterward. One unique feature of the maternity ward is the nursery where babies are safely nestled in cozy bassinets while we recover in peace and quiet until we go home. It's been described as having a free 24-hour babysitting service for the first few days. Some things about that nursery might throw parents for a loop, though.
15 Sugar High
Our new baby is mildly fussy—not quite crying but not settled either—or they're sleepy when they need to be awake or they’re having trouble latching on and nursing. Enter the delicious forbidden treat known as sugar water.
Sugar water is purified distilled water with a high concentration of sugar in it. It can be useful for getting baby's attention when dribbled on mom's nipple before attempting to breastfeed but it's also insanely sweet and can cause issues for a stable nursing routine.
Basically, a baby could think that the sugar water tastes better. If we're aware of the risks and benefits of sugar water in babies and still choose to administer some, that's fine. It's when baby gets hopped up on sweets in the nursery without our knowledge or full awareness of how sweet the concoction is that poses a potential problem.
14 Binkie Winkie
When multiple babies are in the hospital nursery, they are all adorably cute, very needy and look incredibly alike to non-relatives. Therefore, a busy nurse is bound to make a slip-up or two.
One such fairly innocent mistake is when we say no pacifiers or bottles for the baby because we plan to exclusively breastfeed. We also know it can cause nipple confusion and how baby latching onto a bottle instead of a breast isn't ideal if mom is intending to continue breastfeeding exclusively.
Then the baby comes back or we stroll by the nursery and the baby has a bottle or binkie all nestled in close. It's not necessarily done on purpose —for all we know, that bottle was meant for the baby on the other side of the nursery. But it can be disconcerting to see our precious baby already loopholing his way through our orders.
13 Cry, Cry Baby
One popular method for sleep training babies is to lovingly let them cry it out until they figure out it's better to just sleep in the big cage all by themselves and happily greet us in the mornings. For some moms and babies, crying it out can be a judgment call based on disciplining the baby. Crying it out is generally used for older babies under close and loving supervision while they learn not to eat the dictionary.
Newborns can only express themselves in one way, which is to cry. Leaving a little brand-new baby to cry it out isn't necessarily a great idea. Unfortunately, on those busy maternity ward days, sometimes letting a baby cry it out for twenty minutes or so is unavoidable.
The nurse may not love it either, and at home, she may never come close to letting her own child CIO, but when her superiors are breathing down her neck to tend to other issues, it complicates matters. It just makes for a bad impression when dad walks by the nursery and his new baby is the one crying. All the more reason to keep those babies in the room with mom.
12 Rash Decisions
Touching again on the topic of busy maternity wards, it's not uncommon to have a rush of new moms roll in and pop out their babies before nestling in their recovery rooms. This means that the nurses are racing around bringing food to one room, meds to another, assisting the eighth birth in a third room and trying to round up more ice water, diapers and discharge papers for two more rooms.
This doesn't leave as much time as we picture for personal baby care. One area that definitely slides is diaper changes. New babies poop around the clock and just coo or cry to tell us. Letting babies sit around for too long in soiled diapers can result in rashes, but sometimes—even for moms at home with no distractions beyond Netflix—baby waits for a change. It happens.
11 They Cut Off What?!
Circumcision has gone down in recent years but is still common enough to make this list. Aside from religious reasons, some people opt for circumcising their new sons from peer pressure, a desire to match the daddy or other personal reasons. For the few that don't fully know what all circumcision entails, it's basically this: a trained doctor snips baby's foreskin off. You know, that fold of skin which decides if the hot dog has a bun or not? It goes bye-bye.
Babies aren't adequately numbed for this procedure which can concern parents because many newborns are thrown into shock during the procedure. Likewise, over 100 baby boys die from it each year when the procedure wasn’t even medically necessary. The recovery phase is usually what throws the parents—especially when they check on their baby post snip and freak out because that's not what they'd pictured happening to their baby.
Many parents don’t learn until after the fact that no medical organization in the world recommends RIC anymore and later regret their choice to cosmetically modify their child as though he wasn’t born perfect.
10 Newborn Jabs
Hospital policy and routine procedures differ from hospital to hospital, but some things are fairly similar. They are very big on preventative medical measures, which often include a hepatitis B shot, a vitamin K shot or antibacterial eye antibiotics to prevent baby from picking up Chlamydia or gonorrhea from mom.
Some parents take issue with vaccinating their newborn for a disease that is primarily spread through injection substance use and unprotected intercourse. The vitamin K shot comes across as “just a vitamin”, but actually contains neurotoxic aluminum and carcinogenic polysorbate 80.
Others aren’t keen on administering an antibiotic to their baby that would wipe out their good gut flora and microbiome when they know they don’t have those STD’s. Thus, many parents chose to opt out of some or all of these procedures.
However, when a baby is in the nursery with seven other babies and it's been a long day, a tired nurse can mix up the babies and the wrong one gets the sharp needle. While this can infuriate parents to differing degrees and could certainly pose health risks to the child, it's entirely unintentional almost all of the time.
9 Squeaky Clean
When a baby is born—naturally or via c-section—they are covered in a homemade, all organic chunky soup of blood, amniotic fluid, and vernix that are all good and natural. The mixture makes a baby a bit slimy, though. The vernix is a thick waxy coating that protects baby's skin and—if left alone—soaks up into the skin as a natural moisturizer. The vernix actually contains beneficial bacteria that help to boost baby's immune system. Hence why research notes it's better to rub it in and leave it alone while also delaying bathing for at least 48 hours.
Some parents opt to take advantage of an in-house bath, though. While nurses are professionals and have handled hundreds of babies, they have also handled hundreds of babies and might not be super gentle with our new porcelain doll. A rough bath doesn't necessarily hurt the baby but it can be hard to watch. Other times if we're unaware of the bath option, a baby can come back to us for a visit from the nursery all clean and smelling different which can disconcert new moms until they learn what happened.
8 Testing 1, 2, 3
Another part of standard new baby care in hospitals is testing. We all know about the APGAR test and making sure baby can breathe and grimace just right, but another test is the PKU test. It involves pricking baby's heel to collect blood for STD tests, blood type tests and to check the flow of the blood to name a few.
Baby obviously doesn't like this test and though it's not overly invasive, if a parent doesn't want this test, understand it or hasn't yet had that part of the briefing, getting baby back from the nursery with a cute Band-Aid on a slightly purple heel can throw many for a loop.
This can result in wild conspiracy theories galore. If and when something like this happens, it's usually accidental. The nurse didn't know about the preferences of the parents, or thought the doctor had already gone over it with them.
7 Musical Nursery
One of the more entertaining things to happen in the hospital nursery is that once a baby is all tested and settled in, the nurses get to play some music for the baby. The music doubles as a hearing test to see how s/he baby responds to something like Bach versus Taylor Swift. It’s a good way to stimulate a baby's brain, because we all know that classical music is good for them—experts say so.
This normally isn't a problem—unless the nurse on duty has horrible taste in music—but it can be a little odd to walk by the nursery and hear some sweet tunes only to peek in and find the nurses rocking out with the new babies. The young energetic ones with a real sense of humor can really get into the dancing bit, too.
6 Time To Suck
That organic chunky soup that the baby is covered in at birth is partly made up of mucus. There's also mucus in the baby's throat, lungs, nose, and mouth because a baby lived in a water world for nine months and is now transitioning to a dry world. Natural births give a baby a natural squeeze to help expel mucus from the lungs.
As soon as a baby pops out, a bulb syringe or other sucky device moves in to clear the nose and mouth. This usually covers it, but if more is still there, the sucky device comes back out. Walking past the nursery with a suction cup on a baby's face can make anyone do a double take if they don't know what's up. No worries, though. It’s better if baby can breathe before leaving the hospital anyway.
5 Hot Beds
We're just minding our own business—swimming around in our nice warm personal pool and enjoying the spicy food room service keeps feeding us for some odd reason—when the walls squeeze in, the trap door opens, our pool drains out and we're pushed out into this freezing cold world. There are random bright lights and loud stuff happening.
Something that dramatic can shock anyone's body and a baby is no different. That's why their body temperature drops after birth and they are swaddled immediately in warm blankets. In the nursery, they are kept under a heat lamp until their body temperature climbs back up to a normal 98 degrees and stabilizes. When we picture heat lamps, we don't always envision our baby under one. It can definitely prompt some questions from concerned parents.
4 Pale Yellow Complexion
Bilirubin or jaundice is a word we'll hear in the hospital after giving birth. They're harmless and basically means that the doctor is looking at baby's skin to see what color it is in order to see if a baby is breaking down and processing blood cells correctly. This can be caused by clamping the cord too early. The vitamin K injection can also cause jaundice.
If left untreated, it can progress to other health issues. For the most part, just baby eating, sleeping, having regular diaper changes and going outside in the sun can clear up jaundice rapidly.
In more severe cases, baby hangs out in a tiny bed under some blue lights which break down the excess cells and helps him or her improve. It looks really weird, though—fair warning. It’s generally harmless, but nursing consistently and a fair dose of sunlight can have the same effect without all of the hospital intervention.
3 It's All Relative
Hospital nurseries are built with windows in them so visitors can see inside and look at the new babies without getting them contaminated with germs. We all know how germy well-intended relatives can be sometimes. One benefit to this display is gazing for hours at the babies and watching the different facial expressions they make while chilling out in their beds, just doing their new baby thing.
On the flipside, daddy, uncle Ted, and grandpa are on the other side of the glass making faces back at the babies. To the new mom related to all of these giddy men, this can be a charming sight to come across. To someone not related, it's a little weird to see total strangers sticking their tongues out at our baby trying to make them smile.
Of course, we can’t discount mom’s urge to prolong the time between birth and visitors, too. Furthermore, many moms also now request that visitors wash their hands before holding the baby, refrain from kissing them, and avoid coming around altogether if they’ve been vaccinated recently. Live vaccines shed and can pass the disease the individual was vaccinated for to the baby.
2 Personal Stylists
Once a baby is born, all cleaned and wrapped in a blanket, we get to bond and hold him/her. That first blanket they get wrapped in quickly gets all goopy from the organic soup and so does the matching hat. If baby goes off to the nursery, the heating pad is turned on and the blanket is swapped for a new clean one. Then the nurses find a matching hat and wiggle it onto the tiny round head. This is to achieve maximum coverage and cuteness.
When a baby comes back to visit us, it's often a little surprising to find a baby dressed to impress in a new blanket and hat that we hadn't seen before. Not much of a worry but when we bring our own baby clothes, we obviously want our baby to wear that instead of the less cute hospital outfit. We didn't buy the boring hospital outfit.
1 Hit The Snooze Button
One harmless but often puzzling occurrence that happens in nurseries is that baby sleeps all of the time. We wander up to peer through the window and baby's asleep in her new shiny hat and blanket. A few hours later we double back, hoping to play with baby—especially the dads after mom has tried nursing and bonding—only to find baby sleeping still.
What some people don't know is that babies sleep a lot when they're newborns. Sometimes they sleep up to 16 hours total in a 24-hour cycle. They mix it up with pee breaks, gassy wiggles, feedings every two hours and random blinking sessions. For the most part, however, they're curled up asleep on their own or with us.
When we want to play with our new baby, all that snooze time can throw a wrench in our plans. Fast forward a few months and we'll wish baby would sleep sixteen hours a day again.