When the doctor announces the arrival of the baby, new parents are on cloud 9 hearing the happy news. Most of the new moms just want to get discharged from the hospital and go home so that they can bond more with the newborn. But as the time of discharge nears, new parents feel concerned about how to manage and care for the newborn baby once they go home from the hospital.
Today, stay at hospitals is getting much shorter due to many factors. Many doctors feel that the comfort of your home is the best medicine for the fast recovery of the mother and the baby and hence there is a lot of emphasis on discharging the mother and child quickly from the hospital if everything is fine.
Leaving the hospital therefore is the first step to your recovery. But there are many things that need to be considered before leaving the hospital.
Coming home with your little from the hospital can be an overwhelming experience for both the new mom and the new dad. They have a new responsibility to handle and want to do their best. But, they are completely at a loss about what to do.
Starting from the emergency plan, to the insurance company there are plenty of things we need to consider before we pack our bags to go home from the hospital. Here is the list of 15 things you need to do before leaving the hospital with the newborn baby after delivery to make the journey as stress-free as possible.
15 Get Contact Information For Emergencies
Before you set yourself to leave the hospital, one of the most important pieces of information to collect from your doctor is an emergency plan. We cannot predict when an emergency situation will arise. The baby may face difficulties while breastfeeding, may develop colic or some discomfort and start crying inconsolably.
So, if you have an emergency plan chalked out, handling these types of situations will be a lot easier. Doctors can advise you about some warning signals you should look for to know when your baby is in distress.
Sometimes, cuddling the baby, patting the baby on the back to let out a burp, or changing the diaper will cause your baby to calm down and relax. You can check with your doctor or nurse and write down the symptoms and emergency backup plan.
If there are any drops or medicines to reduce colic, you should note it down and stock those medicines before leaving the hospital. Noting down an emergency contact number is also a good idea, along with the baby’s pediatrician phone number.
14 Understand The Discharge Plan
Before you leave the hospital for home, you need to make sure you understand every aspect of your discharge plan. This is extremely important if your baby is preterm, had jaundice or suffered some complications at birth. Usually, discharge plans are written as shorthand summaries.
So, to understand the complete details about the discharge plan, you will have to go through the it in detail to know the dos and don’ts.
It is always better to sit down and spend some time with your doctor and nurse to understand the discharge summary. Clear all the doubts you have before leaving the hospital. Ask the doctor or nurse for clarifications if you don’t understand something they tell you.
If you feel the discharge plan does not make sense, then you should convey it to your doctor or nurse. Nurses and doctors tend to rush through discharge instructions as they are ‘old hat’ to them, but for you they are brand new. Ask questions and repeat what you’ve been told, and get it in writing.
13 Have A Plan For Being At Home
It is important for you to leave the hospital with a realistic plan about things you need to do at home for both the baby and yourself. If it is winter, you should ask your family members to increase the temperature of your home to 72 ℉ at least 16-20 hours before you return home with the baby. You should also have an ample stock of sanitary pads and diapers for the newborn.
It is good to have a plan, but it is always better to check if the plan is realistic and get everything organized and ready before you leave the hospital. Patients are also advised to check with the doctor about things like diet, intimacy, driving, and workout/physical activities before leaving the hospital, especially in case of a c-section.
Never be shy about asking your doctor or nurse questions before you leave the hospital.
12 Obtain Medical Reports
Another important point to check before leaving the hospital is getting the complete medical records of the mother and the baby. Most hospitals provide you with a summary report of the various screening tests conducted on the mother and child before leaving the hospital.
Some hospitals do need you to pay extra amount to get copies of the full medical records. In addition, don’t forget to get the baby’s birth certificate!
Medical records carry more relevance, especially if your baby had some complications at birth or was born preterm. These records will help any pediatrician or doctor you visit in the future to review the complete history of the baby’s problems at birth. You need to make sure the information you got from the hospital includes the initial history and the physical examination details.
You should also collect information about your scans, operation reports and other tests conducted in case of a c-section that will be useful for future checkups.
11 Have A Follow-Up Plan
It is always better to know the follow up plan before you leave your hospital. In case of complications after a c-section, you may not be meeting the same doctor for your follow-ups. It may be some other doctor or physician that works in the same hospital or another hospital.
Collect all the necessary information about the doctor before leaving the hospital so that you can have a clear idea about the doctor before meeting him for follow ups.
You probably have your own gynecologist and pediatrician, but you may have been seen by different doctors while in the hospital. This would be especially true if you or the baby had complications.
You may need to follow up with a doctor other than those you already know. For instance, a doctor other than your gyno may have done the surgery if you had a c-section, and that surgeon may want you to come in for a follow up to check or remove sutures. Make sure you have the contact information for these other doctors so you can make the appointments once you return home.
10 Send Things Home Ahead Of Being Discharged
No one likes to carry heavy luggage when returning back from the hospital. When you are coming home after your delivery, it is always better to carry as little luggage as possible. Fewer bags means you have more time and space for your baby and less tension. Usually, your hospital room will be filled with cards, flowers, and gifts after the delivery.
So there will be a huge amount of items to carry home.
Once your discharge date is decided, it is better to send the gifts and unnecessary luggage home with relatives on the day before the discharge date. So, at the time of checkout from the hospital, you will have only a few important items to carry with you.
For the most part all you really need to have kept with you before being discharged are your toiletries and clean clothes for yourself and the baby, plus the diaper bag with its contents -- just in case. If you have a long commute home, you may want to include extra clothes and diapers for baby and bottles and formula if the baby is being bottle fed.
Snacks for mom may be a good idea as well if she is breastfeeding.
9 Advocate For Going Home If That's The Plan
If you have had a normal delivery and if your baby is absolutely hail and healthy, then there is no hard and fast rule that you have to stay in the hospital for two full days or even more after delivery. It is always more comfortable at home to breastfeed your baby and bond with your baby.
You get more personal freedom and space and it also enables you to take proper rest. Hospitals are supposed to be for sick people and it really is not the place to be if you want to sleep. Hospitals can be surprisingly noisy.
If you want to get discharged quickly, you have to keep reminding every medical assistant and doctor visiting you that you want to go home as soon as possible. Make sure the baby’s hospital pediatrician knows as well, so that you and the baby are on the same schedule.
When the doctors tell you that you can go home, make sure you check with the nurses to make sure that the paperwork is being done. It notoriously takes what seems like forever.
8 Prepare For The Car Trip
One should never underestimate how the car seats can create complications when coming back home from the hospital with the baby. It is best to review the car seat before getting into the car with your baby. The safety of your baby is the most important point to consider here.
Never hold your baby in your arms while travelling in your car however short the distance may be. It is also against the law in most states.
There are different types of car seats available in the market. You can buy an infant seat or a convertible seat so that you can carry your baby safely home. If you are planning to borrow a seat from your friend or from a shop, you should make sure the seat is not more than 6-years old.
Keep in mind never to put a rear facing car seat in the front seat of the car for carrying the baby. It is also better to check with your doctor before buying an infant seat.
7 Recognize Panic Attacks
Some new moms suffer from postpartum panic attacks. There is no specific reason for these attacks. They seem to stem from nowhere. These panic attacks result in new moms having symptoms like a racing heart, breathlessness, dizziness, weakness, cramps, numbness, and so on.
People suffering from these panic attacks often don’t recognize them as such. In some cases, fear can create serious health issues and should be addressed prior to leaving the hospital.
In such cases, you or your family should clear that before leaving the hospital. Talk to your doctor, nurses, and medical assistants and seek help. One of the major reasons for the fear could be that you won’t be getting any medical help for your baby at home in case of an emergency. Discuss the matter and all your concerns with your doctor or your nurses.
Counselors at the hospital can help you lessen your fears and learn to cope with them.
6 Load Up On Freebies
Most hospitals in America give young mommies some freebies before leaving the hospital with the baby. The items included in the freebies differ from hospital to hospital. You should not feel shy to ask for things you want. Also it is better to check the things before leaving the hospital.
A peri bottle is one piece of equipment you want to be sure you have in your bag before leaving the hospital if you have had a vaginal delivery. You fill the peri bottle with warm water and spurt it on to yourself after you go to bathroom. It is likely to become your best friend for a couple of weeks.
You may also get things like, diapers, baby wipes, disposable underwear, extra thick sanitary pads, formula, bottles and a nasal aspirator. You may even get an actual diaper bag! Baby product manufacturers want your business and they know that if you have already used a product, you are likely to buy later.
5 Get Contact Information For Medical Staff
Leaving the hospital does not mean you don’t need any help from the medical staff henceforth. There will be many occasions when you will need the assistance of the hospital staff. Starting from booking appointments for follow up, emergency contacts, questions, doubts and concerns etc. you will need help with.
Check with the hospital about who will be in charge of your case and whom to contact for appointments.
In case your doctor has advised you or your baby to take the service of a medical professional for weekly visits due to some minor complications such as physiotherapy or phototherapy, check with the hospital and meet that staff before leaving the hospital. You should also check with the medical staff if you need arrangements for follow up.
Collect the contact number of the medical staff whom you can contact if you have any questions after getting discharged from the hospital.
4 Obtain Cost Of Treatment
This is something which concerns all new parents. In most cases, it is the responsibility of a family member to make sure all the details about the cost of treatment is included at the time of discharge. Check with the hospital staff if you have any doubts/concerns regarding the bills before leaving the hospital.
Collect all the necessary information from the hospital in case you are going to submit for an insurance claim.
In some cases, medical bills may not be available until a later date because your and your baby’s medical records from the nurses station must be transcribed and recorded. However, you can usually get a summary of current charges.
If you have insurance, make sure that the hospital billing department has all the correct information they need for billing the insurance company and make sure that they will share the information with others who provided your care. Many times things like x-rays or certain specialists bill separately from the hospital.
3 Get Basic Care Instructions
Questions about basic care should be asked before you leave the hospital. Keep in mind doctors and nurses are there to help you. Ask all the questions you have in your mind about the basic things you need to do in your home including your diet plan, day-to-day activities, bathing your baby, breastfeeding, sleep patterns, crying, handling bowel movements and so on - what to do and what not to do.
Make yourself a list of questions prepared well in advance so that you leave the hospital well informed. If you are going to visit another doctor for your follow-up treatment in case of complications with your newborn baby, make sure you take extra care to ensure that the baby is not prone to infections. Try to avoid too many visitors to prevent infections.
2 Leave Insurance Information
Hospital charges are expensive. Most insurance companies offer coverage for a two-day stay at the hospital in the case of a normal delivery and coverage for four day stay in case of a c-section.
If the follow-up visits involve any special treatment that can results in huge amount of money, discuss with your doctor and or insurance case manager for alternative options or to be sure they will be covered by your insurance. Be sure to discuss your claims and benefits before leaving the hospital.
Patients and family members of the patient should remember that insurance companies help you when you are in the hospital, but once you are discharged, it can be difficult to get coverage for follow-ups. If you have any concern about your insurance cover, seek the help of the finance department at the hospital and insurance manager to clear it before you leave the hospital.
Make sure you have all the valid information you need before leaving the hospital.
1 Ask For Home Visits
Once the doctor has approved your discharge from the hospital, the next step is to prepare yourself and the newborn baby for the trip home. One important aspect to consider when leaving the hospital is arranging home visits. Depending on the medical condition of your baby or yourself, you may request a child health nurse or a maternal nurse visit you at home.
The nurse will visit your home within forty-eight hours after your discharge from the hospital. The nurse will help you and your baby in case you face any problems.
She will also work with you to assist you in learning about feeding problems and positions, bathing, caring for your newborn, handling infant colic, pains caused by c-section sutures, umbilical cord care and any other issue you are likely to face. If the nurse is not able to answer your queries, she will guide you about whom to contact for your problems.