New moms have to adapt in a really short time after having a baby. They might research all about newborn care for nine months, but once the baby is born, they have to learn by doing. At the hospital, moms have 24 to 48 hours to absorb all the practical information they can from the nurses, and that might not be enough unless they have a little bit of a primer.
We've got some information on the most important lessons moms need to take note of before they leave the hospital. Some of these involve taking care of the newborn, while others are about mom's postpartum care since both are a very big deal in the first few weeks after birth. While mom's birthing team will likely cover most of these topics before she is discharged, the amount of information she will receive compounded the lack of sleep she will experience can make it tough for new moms to remember every detail.
Luckily, moms will see the pediatrician just a few days after going home to get some help and additional answers, but some of these issues can cause major problems even before that time elapses. So these notes are definitely worth looking over.
Here are 20 things mom absolutely needs to know before the doctor sends her home from the hospital.
20 Importance Of A Feeding Schedule
Moms have a lot of responsibilities when they go home with a newborn baby, but the most critical and hardest piece in those first few days might be the feedings. Whether a mom is breastfeeding or giving her baby a bottle, she has to know the importance of keeping up with the schedule every two hours in those first couple of weeks because it is crucial for the baby's health.
A newborn has to be fed well and regularly in those first few weeks or he will suffer from dehydration. Moms might be tempted to let the baby sleep, but the feedings are critical, so nurses and doctors stress that fact before mom leaves the hospital.
19 Car Seat Safety
Going home from the hospital is exciting, but getting home can be pretty bumpy. That's why moms have to know about car seat safety before they leave — because they have to make sure that the baby is safe for that first car ride.
We recommend that parents stop by the local fire station or visit another expert before the birth to make sure that the car seat is installed properly. And moms need to be aware of how to buckle the baby up correctly. Sometimes the baby might have to pass a car seat test before leaving the hospital, especially if there was a NICU stay involved. But car seat safety is important for every precious baby, and moms need to know within a day or two of the birth.
18 Swaddling Technique
Nurses are founts of information, and parents need to take notes before they leave the hospital with the baby. One of their specialties is how to achieve a perfect swaddle, and if moms don't learn the technique before they leave the hospital, they will be sorry.
In the first few weeks after the birth, a tight swaddle can be magical in helping the baby feel secure and get a restful nap. It's harder than it looks, so parents should be sure to ask the nurse for advice to figure out the trick before heading home.
17 Pediatrician's Phone Service
Being a parent to a newborn is all consuming, but it can help to know that the pediatrician is only a phone call away. Parents should call their baby's doctor not long after the birth to schedule a check-up within a week, but if they need anything before then, they need to know that they can call the pediatrician's office night or day.
Just about all doctor's offices have a phone service, although many people don't take advantage of it until they come home with a newborn. The service means that the doctor will be alerted about any concerns since moms might not know that even the slightest fever in the first couple of months is cause for concern. The phone service can mean that moms don't have to worry all night in vain, so it's an important tidbit to know before you leave the hospital.
16 Mom's Postpartum Restrictions
Before a new mom leaves the hospital, the nurse is going to talk to her about the postpartum period and leave a slew of doctor's orders and recommendations. Since it'll be six weeks or so before a mom sees her obstetrician again, it's important that she listens up and learns of any postpartum restrictions.
Some moms, such as those who have C-sections, might not be able to lift the baby after the birth, and they might have other restrictions. The most common instruction is to abstain from adult time for six weeks after a natural birth so that the area can heal. Following the doctor's orders can make a difference in the recovery, so it's best to listen up before mom goes home from the hospital.
15 Lactation Tips From A Pro
As we've already mentioned, it's critical that the baby gets the nutrition that he needs in the first few weeks after the birth. For moms who breastfeed, that time can be even more stressful, since it's impossible to know how much milk the baby is getting without weighing the baby before and after each nursing session. Plus, it can be tricky and painful to get started with breastfeeding.
That's why we recommend that moms who plan to nurse talk to a lactation consultant before they leave the hospital. Most facilities that have birthing centers have free consultations available as part of a hospital delivery. The expert can help a mom figure out how to get a good latch and give her tips on increasing her milk supply. The session can make all the difference in a successful start to nursing, so it's definitely worth a discussion before going home.
14 Back To Sleep Guidelines
One of a mother's biggest fears after giving birth is a condition called SIDS. It can strike out of nowhere, so many moms have anxiety about the possibility. But moms should know that the likelihood of SIDS has decreased dramatically since doctors developed guidelines about how to keep the baby safe while sleeping.
The guidelines include keeping loose blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals out of the baby's crib, as well as a recommendation to always place the baby to sleep on his back. Nurses will make sure to tell moms about the guidelines before they leave the hospital, and the advice could save the baby's life.
13 Importance Of A Stool Softener
Moms might not realize it, but their first bowel movement after giving birth can be a big deal. It usually happens after they go home, but moms need to start preparing when they are still in the hospital.
It's important to start taking a stool softener as soon as possible. Between the damage done down there during a natural delivery and any constipation that comes from painkillers, many women end up having a pretty painful first movement. Trust us; moms are going to want to know this information before they leave the hospital, so they don't end up crying on the toilet any more than they have to.
12 It's OK To Walk Away
Sometimes the most important thing that a new mom can learn is how to accept life as an imperfect mom. We are all human, and it's important to prepare for the toughest times of parenthood. That's why we want all new moms to know before they leave the hospital how to handle periods of stress when the baby won't stop crying.
Moms need to know that it's OK to walk away for a few minutes and leave the baby crying. As long as the baby is in a safe place, if the mom feels like she can't handle the crying, she should take a moment for herself. Walking away for just a couple of minutes can help her to calm down.
11 Warnings About Germs
A newborn baby is really fragile, and while his mom's immune system will help protect him from illness, moms need to be very aware of germs before they go home from the hospital.
Many doctors recommend that parents keep their newborns home and away from crowds for weeks after the birth — that's especially true when an illness is going around in the area such as the flu. Newborns might not be able to fight off infections, so it's important to take these warnings seriously.
10 It's OK If Bonding Takes A While
As much as moms focus on their newborn's health, there is really nothing more important to them than falling in love. Even people who don't believe in love at first sight for relationships think that there will be an instant connection with the baby as soon as he is born. But that isn't always the case, and that is OK.
Between giving of birth and the hormonal changes, not to mention any health issues that might impact the mom or the baby, it can take a while to bond with the baby. Parents need to know that they aren't failing if they aren't feeling an instant connection. It will come with time, and a good nurse will make sure that moms know that before they leave the hospital.
9 How To Prepare Undies For Healing After Birth
Whether a mom gives birth naturally or via C-section, she is going to have to take care of the area after giving birth. She's definitely going to need to wear large pads for a month or so since the mother will have a heavy discharge called lochia for up to six weeks after the birth.
For women who give birth naturally, there are more preparations for the undies that they need to be aware of. The nurse will create an amazing concoction of ice packs and witch hazel pads that can be great for the swelling and healing , but moms need to learn it before they come home. She definitely wants to keep up with that kind of care for about a week after the birth.
8 Importance Of Mom Getting Rest
When it's time for the go home from the hospital, many moms are still running on the adrenaline that comes with giving birth. Even though she might not have gotten more than a few hours of sleep in three days, if she had a long labor, she's so excited about the new baby that she might not even notice. But believe us — a crash is coming soon. That's why nurses stress the need for moms to get rest while they can.
A newborn has a 24-hour schedule of feedings and diaper changes. Naps are short but frequent, so moms might not be able to get more than hour's sleep before they are awoken for the next feeding. The advice to sleep when the baby sleeps is hard to follow in those first few days, but new moms should pay attention to the wise words of the nurse before they leave the hospital.
7 Cord Care Instructions
Taking care of a tiny baby is intimidating enough, but all of them also have an umbilical cord stamp that can be even more intimidating. And then there are other situations that need to heal such as circumcision stitches. Any time the baby has a wound, the parents will have questions, and they need to know how to care for those circumstances before they leave the hospital.
Luckily, the instructions are actually pretty short. Moms need to do their best to keep the areas clean and dry, and then they need to leave them alone until they heal. The most important part of the discussion with the nurse is when she talks about watching out for signs of infection. Moms need to know when the baby needs to see a doctor.
6 Setting Up A Support System
When a mom is at the hospital, she is surrounded by nurses and healthcare professionals who can help her with everything from going to the bathroom to figuring out how to swaddle the baby and change their diaper. But when she goes home, she might be alone, at least at times. That's why she needs to know before she leaves that there is a support system out there.
For some women, family and friends can come help any time that she needs, although some might be tempted to stay away to give a new mom space, so it's imperative that women know that they can and should ask for help. For some who might not have a built-in support system, many towns have mom groups. Many nurses will let women know about groups and services in the community before they go home from the hospital, so be sure to ask if you need some help.
5 Continue To Take Vitamins
A lot of things change in a woman's everyday life after she has the baby, but one thing that shouldn't change is her routine of taking prenatal vitamins. This is especially true if a woman decides to breastfeed, but it's appropriate for a woman's health either way.
The nurse is going to tell the new mom to keep taking her vitamins during their discharge discussion, but she's probably got her attention on other issues such as how to use the bathroom and watching out for signs that the baby is dehydrated. But mom's health is important too, and the vitamins are an easy habit to continue that can make a big difference.
4 Danger Signs For Jaundice
In the first few weeks after the birth, all babies can experience jaundice. The liver is working as fast as it can to filter bilirubin out of the baby's blood, but it's had a late start, so many times, he ends up with some discolored, yellowish skin that is the first sign of jaundice. Before mom leaves the hospital, she needs to know the difference between a normal amount of jaundice and when she needs to get her baby help immediately.
The best way to help the baby get rid of jaundice is to feed him well so that the bilirubin goes out in his urine. But if the mom or baby struggles, especially with breastfeeding, the substance can build up. If the yellow tint reaches the baby's eyes, he needs immediate attention. The pediatrician will be looking for jaundice at the first appointment, but moms need to know about the issue in case the baby needs help immediately.
3 Importance Of Hand Washing
Moms will likely notice the amount of hand-washing that goes on in the hospital. The doctor and nurses should wash up when they enter her room and when they leave. Hospitals are full of germs, and healthcare practitioners are careful to avoid transferring them from one patient to another. That's a lesson that moms need to be sure to learn before they come home.
Hand washing is the No. 1 way to keep the baby healthy. Moms need to make sure that they wash their own hands after diaper changes and their own trips to the bathroom and such. And they need to make sure their guests wash their hands before they touch the baby.
2 It's OK To Get Help For Depression
In recent years, more and more mothers have become educated about postpartum depression. And, thank goodness, the stigma surrounding the condition has eased up. But there are still a number of mothers who can't imagine becoming depressed when they welcome the baby that they have been dreaming about for nine months or more. That's why the healthcare providers make certain to talk about the issue before the mom leaves the hospital and at every subsequent doctor's appointment.
Postpartum hormonal changes can make women susceptible to mental health concerns for the first year of the baby's life. Some women even have such severe issues that they might cause harm to themselves on their baby, so it's important that moms know that postpartum depression isn't something to be ashamed of — it's imperative that they talk to their doctor and get help to feel better soon.
1 Trust Your Instincts
It's hard to be confident as the mother of a newborn. Even experienced moms can feel timid and unsure while they are getting to know their baby's personality and getting a handle on feedings and schedules. But nurses want moms to understand before they leave the hospital that they have a connection to their baby that no one else has, and they need to trust their instincts when it comes to the baby's health.
There is a learning curve for any mom, but all mothers have an innate ability to know when something is wrong. It's important to listen to a mom's gut and call the doctor when she feels it's necessary. A mom won't regret a doctor's appointment that ends with the doctor saying all is well, but they will regret not calling the doctor earlier if the baby does become really ill. Mommy's instincts are better than anyone else's, even if the confidence comes later on.
References: Baby Center, Parents, WebMD