No matter how much we prepare for our new little nuggets, there are things women need to learn when they give birth. Some think the hardest part is the birth itself. Others are quick to learn that the birth is the easy part and that sometimes they have to learn and relearn things in ways they never even expected. For example, we know how to do things to take care of ourselves and our partners but honestly, once the baby comes things change. They change quite dramatically and we are often left with questions and concerns, as well as insecurities regarding if we will actually be able to figure this parenting thing out.
Sure, we babysat when we were 13, and we watched our newborn niece recently that one other time, but do we really know how to put on a newborn's diaper? How about changing a diaper quickly enough to not get sprayed by urine or with a baby screaming so loudly that our head feels like it may literally explode?
And then, what about the swaddle? We watched the videos on YouTube and really tried to internalize the steps of a successful swaddle. We used a stuffed animal to try it out and that furry teddy bear was swaddled like a boss. We learn that it is much more difficult trying to swaddle an actual human that is wiggling about than we had anticipated. Here are 15 things moms need to learn during their first night in the hospital after giving birth.
Deep down inside of our pregnant, hormonal bodies, we are grateful for the help with our newborn baby. We are exhausted and can barely even comprehend what has just happened. Now, we want our baby in our arms and we want to jump right into the maternal actions that our inner biology is commanding us to do. According to Huffington Post, many new moms' instincts tell them not to trust others with their baby. We may not trust anyone for a few months.
Sometimes, however, we need to trust grandma or the nurse with our baby. We may have had some medical complications and need some rest, or we may have stitches and are so sore that we can barely move. Whatever the reason, it will be helpful when others are there to help us take care of our new little one.
We need to learn to be grateful for the help because it may not always be so readily available. Some of us may even be afraid to let the baby’s father watch them while we nap as we recover from birth. These hormones should calm down, according to Huffington Post. Our instincts are generally accurate once time passes by, so if there are still certain people you cannot trust with your baby, do not ignore that.
Of course, we are slightly on edge. We just had our giant pregnant bodies twisted and manipulated in ways that we literally cannot wrap our brains around. We are so happy that the worst appears to be over, but we honestly may begin to feel agitated and annoyed.
Our angsty hormones continue to rage inside of our bodies and the neurotransmitters in our brains feel as if they are fighting a war. According to Huffington Post,
not only will these hormones make us incredibly protective, but likely very defensive.
People are constantly knocking on our hospital room door and even though our bodies should be numb from exhaustion at this point, all the doctors and nurses who are poking and prodding are surely begging for a black eye. Baby Center had a chat room open in which new moms voiced their experiences after birth. Some moms reported having doctors and nurses checking them every four hours, while others were only checked a few times.
It is truly in our best interest to take some deep breaths and try to conjure up every patient thought we can to keep the peace. These people are just trying to make sure we are at our healthiest for ourselves and our baby.
We all think changing a diaper is easy-peasy; however, most of us find ourselves shocked at the fact that there really is a right way to change a diaper. Even if we have been babysitting for years or have “seen how it is done” a dozen or so times, changing a diaper–especially when our baby is screaming bloody murder–is not all it is cracked up to be.
If we are slightly off in our pulling of the tabs or we are not careful to ensure the little ruffles are out and not tucked in around our baby’s thighs, everything will become exponentially more complicated. Baby Center recommends that we pull the front of the diaper up to the baby’s stomach and that the body of the diaper is spread wide to capture as much pee and poop as possible. It is important that the diaper is snug, but not too tight.
Otherwise, we will find ourselves constantly changing our baby’s clothing and wondering why they are constantly peeing and pooping through. In addition, another challenge occurs when we decide on cloth diapers. Baby Center explains that cloth diapers may be a little more complicated to fasten, but has similar steps. However, cloth is considerably cheaper, more organic to put on baby's body and is known to produce far fewer leaks and explosions.
Perhaps one of the most frequent challenges and perhaps the hardest to emotionally navigate is learning how to breastfeed. Sure, this looks easy enough. Our baby latches and they eat. The concept is definitely a simple one but learning our baby’s personality is key. Some cries may mean that our baby is hungry versus their other cries. Some babies want to be held a certain way while nursing. Some want more comfort and warmth and others just want the nipple and the milk no matter what the circumstances.
Some newborns need a certain routine and moms will learn how to navigate that and read their baby’s needs and cues over time. Baby Center reports that moms can train babies to feed by adjusting their hold to make sure the baby gets a nice latch.
The biggest challenge we brand-spanking-new mommies can face is just getting used to how it feels and making sure our baby is latching appropriately and getting enough to eat.
Baby Center says if it is too painful to feed, something is wrong and we should probably consult with a lactation specialist or preferred provider. Since we will likely nurse every two to three hours, it is important to learn the basics and to get comfortable with this.
Even when we use the most simple and basic blanket, we may have some trouble navigating the art and science of swaddling. We may find we are facing a match of swaddling shenanigans. We have watched our friends do it, read guides, watched videos and it appears we got this make the baby a burrito thing down pat.
The struggle is real though. It needs to be loose enough for breathing, yet tight enough for a Taco Bell-like appeal. It is comforting and can keep baby safe.
We sometimes end up with babies who squirm like crazy and who break out of these pseudo-straight jackets. We often find that practice makes perfect in the swaddling department. Learning how to do this while we are still at the hospital is really helpful. We want to be as seasoned as possible before we leave to face the reality of having to do these things without the experts around for help.
According to Parenting, we should start with the blanket in a diamond shape, fold one corner across the baby and then the bottom corner up and over the shoulder. This will keep babies arms in. Then, we pull the other side across to finish our baby burrito—and voila!
We know! We are not the type to steal, nor do we advocate shoplifting! We do, however, advocate taking advantage of freebies (okay, to be honest, they're billing you for that junk whether you take it or not; so take it!) and so unbelievably much comes in bulk in the hospital.
The Bump says we should be sure to get any coupons that the hospital may offer as well as any other supplies. The hospital pacifiers are so handy and there are tons of them. Even if we do not think we will be using a pacifier for our baby, they are great for teething and just to have on hand “just in case.”
Take the time to grab the supplies you need. This includes diapers, burp cloths, free hospital hats for baby and booties for us.
They will often supply us with samples of baby-related items, breastfeeding supplies, diapering items and endless burp cloths which sometimes can double as swaddle blankets–depending on how big our little one is.
The Bump also says that we should make sure to take some of the supplies that we will personally need as well. This includes the peri bottle, the pads, the mesh underwear, and even those glorious witch hazel pads. This will help us recover! There may even be a sitz bath available for us to sneak home in our diaper bags.
This is often one of those unexpected things that we do not really anticipate happening. This happens with boys and girls but obviously little, tiny baby boys have no control over their penises. The second that they feel that cool air enveloping their once-warm bodies, they are inclined to pee. This happens a lot.
The real challenge is trying to change out the old diaper and get on the new one in a flash so there is the tiniest sliver of grace period to cover before anything can go wrong. Even worse is when a baby poops before you finish changing the diaper. If you are in the hospital and your baby is that small, it is unlikely to be too concerning. Mostly, you will contend with the smell, not a shower!
According to Baby Center, these accidents can be prevented. If you have a little boy, you should always cover their little guy with a fresh diaper, just in case they decide to urinate and cause a fountain. By keeping any little one on a diaper changing pad during changes, we can save ourselves a lot of time cleaning up in case of an accident, especially since many of these can be rinsed with soap and water.
Humility is tough. Ultimately, it is not easy to ask for help or to be modest and know that you may or may not have exposed yourself to countless innocent bystanders. It goes with the whole giving birth and being in the hospital territory. We try hard not to take things too seriously and to know that we will undoubtedly need to ask for help whether we want to or not.
We are not going to jump up and change out the baby’s diaper every single time it is needed. We may have to ask a nurse to help or rely on family to give an extra hand.
We may need some ice chips... or a snack... or even a shoulder to cry on even if we have absolutely no idea why we are crying in the first place.
According to Huffington Post, labor and delivery nurses are used to this. They will help you stand up for the first time so you do not drop from low blood pressure. They will let you know what you can and cannot lift while you heal. They are here to help. They may even be able to hint to your partner that you need certain things to be done for you.
Doctors, nurses, family, and friends will all demand that we rest. We try. They do not tend to believe us and they are partly the reason that we cannot sleep in the first place. People are bouncing in and out; hospital sounds are echoing in the backdrop of our small recovery room. It is time to nurse our baby. It is time to eat a little something. “How are we feeling?” they ask. All you want is to yell at them that you are tired and just want to take a nice nap.
The nurses are checking on us every few hours. Visitors want to see us, our families and, of course, our superstar of a new baby. Smartphones are pulled out and people want photos!
Unfortunately, we may have to go on without sleep and know that eventually (we cannot really say when for sure, though) we will be able to hit snooze on this experience.
Parenting recommends that you create a code word with your partner or your nurse to hint that you do not want visitors or that you would like visitors to leave. Having a rule that no one can visit while the baby is sleeping so you can get some rest is incredibly helpful.
The first night in the hospital we will begin a long, beautiful relationship with our new baby. We are getting to know our bundle of joy and trying to navigate all of these new cues and sounds we never thought we would wonder about. The baby will mostly sleep, but when our little one is not sleeping, he may likely be crying. Why is our baby freaking out, we wonder, as we are concerned and confused.
No one really knows exactly and it is all a game of trial and error as we work to make our way around the puzzle that is our newborn. We will learn quickly the best way to hold our bub. When we find something that appears to calm our little one down, we will keep that in the forefront of our mommy-brains for future reference.
According to Parenting, babies start giving us signals as soon as they are born. If they arch their backs, they are uncomfortable. Certain cries at certain pitches may mean hunger versus sleep, or even that they need a change. While every baby is different, spending so much time with them will help us new moms figure it all out!
That button is there for a reason. We are in the hospital for a reason. Do not be shy about calling the nurse if you think something may be wrong, if you need help, if your baby needs a diaper change, or if you need a little adult interaction.
Most of us try to make our family and partners do the work we would otherwise be requesting from nurses. After all, we know they are overworked and tired; however, it is in our best interest and that of our newborn to be aware when we need that extra set of hands. This is especially true if we have just given birth to multiples.
We will need that help, and calling the nurse is something we will need to learn to do.
Do not be afraid of that little button. According to Parents, nurses want you to utilize them. They can help with everything from letting you cry it out to making sure that you have the right ideas about what is to come with your baby.
The labor and delivery nurse will become your best friend and number one defender in the hospital, so take advantage of him or her while you can!
Of course, we know everyone knows “how” to hold a newborn baby. What we mean here is how to hold your very own baby in a way that is best for him. As we learn about our new little one, we get to know his personality and needs. Honestly, some babies like to be held facing outwards and some like to be held more inwards. Some babies like to look over our shoulders. Some like to be tucked under our arms like a little-swaddled football.
Ultimately, we will be working to mainly get the baby situated and fed, but experimenting with different ways that help soothe our little one when we are holding him is something we will need to learn as well.
Every baby is different. Happiest Baby displays three of the most common holds that soothe baby. One is holding the baby like a football, one is called the “reverse breastfeeding” position, and the final is over the shoulder. You may find your baby loves one of these or you may end up inventing your own. This does not even include how baby likes to be held while they are being fed! That is a whole different game.
We know what you're thinking! Earlier, we were talking about how to learn to not sleep, but this is also essential because we do need those zzz's. For those specific times when we really are ready, able and willing to just shut our eyes, drown out the noise and hit the hay, we will need to learn to sleep with our newborn in the room. We will need to surrender to our weariness and let our eyelids get heavy.
We will learn how to block out all of the nonsense and sometimes—even if the nurses are insisting we stay awake—ask for what we need. If we need a little shut-eye that first night and it seems impossible, we must voice our concerns. Also, with hormones like adrenaline rushing through our bodies, sleep may need to be aided with some essential oils or medicated assistance.
This may be a great time to turn visitors away. If you are allowing the baby to sleep in the hospital room with you, it is important to grab as much shut-eye as possible when they finally get to sleep, as per Parenting. This will get you in the habit of getting sleep whenever you can, preparing you for when you go home from the hospital.
Our bodies are all out of whack and kind of off in terms of our eating schedules and routines. You may not have realized that you haven't eaten anything in over 24 hours. Most of the time, we may not even be hungry and that is the last thing on our minds until our partners bring in some take-out for themselves or until we see that ketchup stain on their pants.
Everything will seem gourmet, especially if you did not get to eat for a very long time before labor or had to sneak your snacks during the process.
It is important that we try to eat regularly—even if just a little bit—as our bodies are in serious need of food and water, especially right after birth. Some moms may choose to be hooked up to an IV so that they are not getting dehydrated; however, getting back into the habit of a somewhat normal schedule will keep us well-nourished and healthy and also help our baby.
According to Babble, eating your first meal after giving birth can feel like a life-changing moment. Your body just endured a lot, so now you get to nourish it with whatever you would like. Getting these calories will help get your energy back, so eat up!
This may be our biggest learning experience. We try to anticipate what may happen after giving birth. We think about what can possibly go wrong in order to mentally prepare for it. We try to get ready for any visitor to come in at any time, and we work hard to keep our blankets just so. We likely envisioned our first several hours nursing our baby and bonding with him or her. We are so sure of ourselves. When we learn to expect the unexpected, we are never surprised.
If we learn this helpful technique, we will be less likely to be thrown a proverbial curveball in the face of say, a nursing nightmare or an in-law showing up who you really thought you had successfully convinced not to.
According to Parents,
this happens way more often than you would expect. People are anxious to see and hold the new addition to the family, so they may ignore any warnings you give them.
Many of them may come out of the woodwork to meet the baby, thinking your warnings of staying away after birth applied to everyone else, but not them. They may even feel comfortable waking you up from your first nap in 48 hours. People are unpredictable, so they are most likely the source of your surprises. Learn to expect the unexpected. Always.