Only three more shifts remain before the powers that be unleash me on to unsuspecting families and babies in the Postpartum unit. Am I ready? I think so. I mean, there’s really only one way to be sure, and that shift will come on Monday, September 7th, 2015.
In my very brief time on the Postpartum unit, I have made some observations. Some you may agree with and some you may not. I’ll share them anyway.
Now, let me preface this post by saying that while I am a co-sleeping, bed-sharing mama, I must beseech you new mamas to please be safe while in the hospital. Being safe means you put your new bundle of joy in their open crib/bassinet when you’re not cuddling, cooing, sharing time skin-to-skin, breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, or otherwise staring in awe at the new human being you just pushed out of your nether regions.
Because moms drop babies.
Yes. They drop their own babies. Moms are exhausted from the trials and tribulations of labor or surgery or the hormonal shift that begins in the postpartum period, along with medications. You may think you would never in a million years drop your baby, but yes, people do. And it’s sad. And it’s preventable. So, do your nurses a big favor: when you feel exhausted and your partner is across the room snoring in his/her fold out chair or bed, please put your baby safely into the confines of the open crib/bassinet, or better yet? Call your nurse. We will be happy to do it for you.
Not only do moms drop their babies, but they fall asleep with them in their beds. Hospital beds. Beds filled with unsafe linen, quilted pads, sheets, pillows, blankets. Babies can become trapped between mom and the side rail, mom and excessive sheets, and yes, mom and her breasts. Bottom line: please, PLEASE take care when you feel sleepy and tired. When in doubt, take them out…….of YOUR bed and into their own.
As your nurse, I implore you: be safe. Be cautious. Be mindful. When you get home and you can provide a safe family sleeping environment, go for it.
The Milk Maid Cometh
No, mama, you don’t have any mature milk right now. I can’t tell you how many new moms, young and old, experienced and new think that milk is coming immediately after the birth of their baby. Nope. That’s not how it works. That is a fact. I know it may seem that you are putting this newborn to breast for no discernable reason, but believe me when I tell you the importance of it. Every time you bring your baby near, let your baby nuzzle you, let your baby sleep doze safely skin-to-skin, you are sending your milk makers some serious messages. Those boobs are waking up, mama, and before long you will channel your inner Bessie and be the milk maid. It WILL happen. Trust me. I pull up a chair to your bedside at 0300, hold your hand, guide your baby to breast, show you hand expression, gently explaining that this liquid gold you are now producing (colostrum) is all your baby needs right now. No. Really. I promise. Don’t be discouraged. I am here for you. Put your call light on every time you wish to bring that new squish to breast, and I will help you. Why? Because I won’t let you give up quite yet. I’ll look you in your tired eyes and tell you to take it one nursing session at a time. Make it to two weeks, then make it to a month, and you’ll see the elusive breastfeeding silver lining. I know you can do it, and sometimes in the middle of the night when it seems the whole world is sleeping, you just need reassurance that you’re doing ok. And you know what?
You’re doing ok, mom.
Do your Postpartum nurse a big favor. When you pack for the hospital, please do NOT bring the car seat base. Really. We don’t need to see it. We DO need to see the seat in which you will be transporting your baby, but the base? Leave it in the car. Better yet, make sure it is installed correctly by visiting a local fire station, AAA, or car seat technician. But, please, don’t bring it up to the hospital. Yes, this means you’ll actually have to take it out of the box after the baby shower.
As a newer mother myself, I was amazed at how much had changed from the time I had my son 16 years ago. Back then, rooming in didn’t exist. Now, it has become the norm. Why is rooming in so important? Well, if you’re breastfeeding, the best thing you can do is keep your baby close by to initiate feeding, learning to read their subtle cues. Rooming in promotes bonding as well. Now, all this aside, please don’t be afraid to put on your call light and tell me that you are absolutely exhausted and need a break. Just an hour or two. Sleep is elusive in the hospital. You’ll never get the opportunity to have a break like this when you go home, and in my humble new Postpartum nurse opinion, a couple of hours away from your baby while you sleep isn’t going to make or break your bonding experience and likely won’t mean costly therapy for your child, either. It’s ok, mom. Need a break? Put on your call light. Don’t worry. We WILL bring your baby back to you when your precious bundle begins to root at your nurse’s breasts or tries to eat their hands.
I’m sure that as I make my way down the Postpartum road, I’ll have other nuggets to share, but for now, these are the big ones. Most of all, new families, be kind to yourselves. Allow yourselves to take a collective cleansing deep breath. Slow down. Rest. Tell the rest of the world you’ll see them later. You just built a family and that takes a lot of energy.
Don’t worry. Your mother-in-law will be waiting when you get home to remind you of all the things you need to do. Until then?
Put on your call light if you need me.