The Oh So Dreaded Post-Partum Experience

As those BIG bellies are growing I am sure you are starting to wonder about your post-partum experience. I'm going to "attempt" to make it not so dreadful. As some of you may know, I am a post-partum nurse by “trade.” However, when I had my daughter two years ago, I was not a nurse and therefore not well versed in the post-partum world. Having said that, when I did have my daughter there are several things I wish I had known and now wish to share with all of you.

First of all, everyone's labor is so incredibly and remarkably unique. Whether your "birth plan" went as planned or didn't bottom line is after delivery...your plum exhausted! Soon after your precious bundle of joy arrives to this world, the nursery nurse will come and take your newborn to the nursery or the NICU dependent upon the case.

If your delivery is a "healthy" delivery and you are planning to breast-feed your newborn I would recommend that you breast-feed immediately following delivery if able (this provides skin to skin contact with you and your newborn allowing for bonding to take place). Keep in mind at this time, you will more then likely have a WHIRL-WIND of emotions occurring from excitement, to confusion, and everything in between ;) Number one rule is there are NO rules. Be flexible with your "plans" and let things happen naturally.

**Side note: My husband and I were the only one’s in the room when my daughter was born so we waited to invite family into the room until we had allowed her to latch and feed for a few moments. I HIGHLY recommend this if at all possible. But, to each their own ;)

After your little one goes to the nursery you will either stay in your Labor and Delivery suite or be transferred to the Post-partum unit following delivery. You will have roughly 3-5 hours before the “transition” nurse brings your newborn back to your room. Your baby has to go through a "transition" phase in which he/she is becoming acclimated to the environment and has to be placed on a warmer for an extended period of time and will also undergo tests and procedures. Here is a list of what baby will receive in the nursery:

1)    Weight/Length- The first time will be done in the L&D room and then baby will be weighed everyday he/she is in the hospital to ensure baby is not losing too much weight.
2)    Erythromycin Eye drops- used to prevent your baby from receiving an infection typically caused by Chlamydia or Gonorrhea. The eye drops make it harder for the newborn to see during his/her alert phase and can be delayed if wished. However, I would recommend having it done while baby is “transitioning” and by the time he/she is off the warmer most of it will be gone.
3)    Vitamin K- Injection given to your baby to prevent excessive bleeding. Newborns are not born with clotting factors and are at increased risk of bleeding. The vitamin K injection gives the newborn the clotting factors they need until they can make them on their own.
4)    PKU- Is a state screening typically done at least 24 hours after delivery, which tests, for many genetic disorders and how your baby is able to process human milk and or formula. This screening will be done twice one at the hospital and once in the pediatrician’s office. If you do not hear back from the state there is no need to worry, you will only hear back if they find something wrong.
5)    Hep B Vaccine- Can either be done in the hospital or at your child’s two month check-up. In many states this is a mandatory vaccine for public school children. Talk to your practitioner if you having any questions or concerns about receiving this vaccination.
6)    APGAR- is a common term you may hear tossed around moments after your child is delivered. This is a score nurses and doctors use to rate your newborns well being post delivery. APGAR stands for activity, pulse, grimace, appearance, and respiration) each category is given a score and further care for your child is decided upon. If the score is low your child may need further life sustaining measures if the score is high your newborn most likely will be able to transition into regular nursery dependent upon gestational age.
7)    Circumcision- If you are having a boy, the question of having a circumcision or not will come up. There are several different techniques that can be utilized and not all practiconers practice each technique- so do your research before hand or you may just want to postpone it until your practiconer is available.

Whew. Can you believe you have to make ALL of those decisions PLUS have a ton of raging raw emotions spilling out everywhere? Speaking about these topics before hand with your significant other is important and vital to a smooth recovery. I have seen couples plenty of times argue over these topics thinking that they would not be an issue. Educate yourselves on these topics and make sure you and your spouse are able to come to a decision and or compromise.

OK, so now that the newborn stuff is all out of the way now we get to talk about YOU and The Postpartum Experience!

Your nurse will either bring you over by wheelchair or stretcher to the unit depending on the type of delivery that you had. Let’s talk about all things VAG first:

-If you have a episiotomy you will be having some vicious vag pain. 

-Make sure your nurse if able, gives you Americane spray (which is a numbing medication for your hoo-hah) and EpiFoam if needed which is a topical steroid that will significantly reduce the inflammation. Oh, and that “squirt” bottle is awesome. Fill it up with warm water and you will be in hoo-hah heaven!
-ICE, ICE, ICE if you’re swollen, will be your best friend. At my facility, we cut open pads and poor ice into them for our Momma’s. Your facility may have a fancier system. Whatever. Just get one.

-You will NEVER see so much blood in your life.

-Those mesh panties that they provide to use post delivery, use them. I took my own because I refused to use those and I regretted it. Pull those ugly Victoria secret panties up over that post-partum belly and you will feel SO.MUCH.BETTER. Even the hottest Mom’s I know thank me.

-Bring shower flip-flops that you don’t mind getting dirty in the bathroom. I can’t tell you how many super cute fuzzy slippers turned not so cute after a SPLAT of blood.

-Save the Boppy pillow for home use and ask for plenty of pillows for breastfeeding support. The Bobby (unless your super skinny) is very difficult to bring close to your belly to breastfeed plus I have seen them fall several times on the GROSS floor. Hospital floor=not newborn friendly.

-Don’t bother bringing your own pads, use the hospitals. They are HUGE and will be your best friend.
-Nipple cream, nipple cream, nipple cream if your breastfeeding. Start using this even before baby latches for the first time. Even if you are not sore, this will save your nipples!

-Ditch the visitors if you are able. Or ask the nurse to be the “enemy” for you. We DON’T mind. You need your rest and it’s hard to breastfeed, change your pad, have blood flying everywhere if you have family in the room. Remember your little one isn’t going anywhere. I know there excited, but you need your rest too!

-IBUPROFEN – helps significantly with after birth cramping typically noticed in Mom’s after multiple pregnancies but new Mom’s can feel them too! Your nurse will come by and offer it too you. If you don’t need it great, but if your feeling those pains, take it!

-Breast pumping is not recommended during the hospital stay if newborn is able to breastfeed and will only cause an overproduction in milk days down the road.

-Ask the nurse to see a lactation consultant if available (typically they come one day 2 since your so exhausted the first day)

C-Section Moms:

-Football hold- Great for you guys since you can’t hold baby across your incision. Have a staff member assist you.
- ABDOMINAL BINDER or spanks when able, for those Mom’s who want the extra support these are great!
-Walk, walk, walk as soon as you can after delivery. A lot of your pain after a c-section is gas related. It is hard to expel gas while resting in bed. You will hurt like hell to get out of bed, but once your out keep moving!!
-The narcotic they put you on which is typically a PCA pump (patient controlled) can and might make you say things you wouldn’t normally say. Completely normal and will wear off.
-You will have a catheter, abdominal dressing, PCA pump after your c-section and will probably not be removed until the next morning.
-WASH, WASH, WASH your incision while in the shower after the bandage is removed.
-Watch the incision site, if you notice inflammation, redness, or a fever call your MD ASAP. The sites can get infected really really quickly so be careful!
-Cough frequently in bed to prevent secretions from building up in your lungs while not moving

So here is what I would recommend to bring and I will probably think of a few more things later so excuse me if I forgot a thing or two!

What to bring:
1)    Hairties
2)    A pretty robe!
3)    Flip-flops that can easily be cleaned or tossed. Ahem.
4)    Toiletries
5)    Newborn’s memory book- the hospital will typically do you newborns prints for you if you ask them.
6)    Lanolin Cream/ Medela Cream for nipples
7)    Camera/Laptop/Ipad
8)    Cell phone charger
9)    Nursing Tanks
10)  Nursing bras/pads
11)  Itzbeen- I’ve seen several Mom’s bring this to the hospital to keep track of feedings. It helped if they forget to write a feed down.
12)  Car-seat

*I didn’t include Dad’s items or Baby bag in this list

Feel free to comment below any suggestions or useful information. This is my experience, if you know of something that helped you please share it. If you have any baby topics you would like to me to blog about include them in your comments below.

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