Growing and giving birth to a human being is really hard. And it’s messy and gross. Your body, mind, and relationships go through a lot to get that baby out. And there is no need to make the post-delivery hospital stay any harder than it has to be.
I just gave birth to my second baby via repeat C-section. Here are a few things I wished I had known the first time around, because these insights made our second experience so much better.
1. Do Not Over Pack
It is a waste of your time, energy, and space!
More stuff means more work, more to keep track of, and more clutter. And for me personally, clutter drives up my anxiety. Clutter-induced anxiety is unhelpful when dealing with an already stressful situation. Keep it simple and only bring what you need.
Don’t spend money on a bunch of nice swaddles and robes those savvy social media ads make look so enticing. They are not a need, in my opinion. You might ruin them or might not even get the chance to put them on at all, depending on how recovery is going. For me, it ended up being a waste of money.
I am all about a couple of nice things to help you feel better as you recover. Or to look good in pictures. But no matter how you deliver, recovery for you and early life for your baby is messy. Why risk ruining something when the hospital provides plenty of linens they will launder for you? Unless you have sensitive skin and need a particular fabric, I say skip the fancy stuff and use what the hospital provides.
In my experience, all you really need to pack in your hospital bag are:
- Personal toiletries
- Phone charger and cell phone
- Nursing comfort items
- A going home outfit for baby
- A comfy outfit for you to wear home from the hospital (I recommend packing your maternity clothes)
- A couple of changes of clothes for your support person
2. Snacks Are Life
This goes for you, but also for your support person. Our labor, delivery, and recovery experiences with our two children were different. But one thing that was the same; I was hungry, like really hungry, all the time. My hunger and need for snacks persisted throughout my entire hospital stay post-delivery.
During my most recent hospital stay, I battled more nausea than with my first and snacks were so valuable during my first 24 hours of recovery.
I was so grateful the nurses had gentler-on-my-stomach snacks available and in ample supply. I’m sure they offer them to every mom, but I also encourage you to ask for a little stash. I found a stack of saltine crackers to slowly munch on during the day and long into the night very comforting for my upset stomach.
Snacking, I found, also helped me keep up my energy for breastfeeding. Our newborn decided to cluster feed for the first few days of her life, which was exceedingly draining. I found munching on an occasional cracker or two to be comforting for my mind and as well as my body.
In addition to the snacks from the nurses, I was also sure to order an extra piece of fruit with every meal. I specifically ordered them to be stashed away for snacking between mealtimes.
Don’t forget about your support person, who isn’t entitled to the same nurses’ snack stash as new moms are. My husband found packing his favorite snacks also helped him keep up his energy and improve his mood.
3. Limit Visitors
This may be controversial, but I wish someone would have told me this with our first baby.
After having visitors during our hospital stay with our first child and forgoing them with our second, I can say without a doubt it was better NOT to have visitors come to the hospital. This was partly due to hospital restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we would have made this choice anyway for a few reasons.
First, we got more rest. For my husband and me, it meant better recovery, more present parenting, and more patience with one another. We didn’t have to coordinate with visitors and stay awake to talk with them. We just took care of ourselves and our new baby, which is what matters most during those first few days.
Secondly, I experienced recovery complications with both deliveries. I am not the type of person who is comfortable (even with family) broadcasting those complications with people other than my spouse. In my experience, it was easier to manage these complications without an audience. I didn’t have to try to hide anything I was going through or try to be presentable. I was able to focus on recovering with my husband and our care team.
After giving birth, new parents shouldn’t be thinking of anyone’s needs but their own and that new baby’s. But often, there is pressure to please others and consider their needs to meet and welcome this new life. And I am here to say, this is unnecessary and a burden on new parents.
I just spent months growing a human being to then have it removed surgically from my body. There I was in the hospital, trying to deal with the fact I could not even sit up, experiencing tremendous pain, and trying to feed my new human to keep it alive. It is not a great time to take on the role of hostess duties after just giving birth.
Looking back, I wish we would have waited for those visitors to meet our first child until we were home. This is what we did with our second, and it was a much better experience.
Giving birth is hard enough; let’s make it easier on ourselves.
And for more ways to make life easier post-delivery, see our guide to Pregnancy & Postpartum Resources in Fargo-Moorhead.