Sunday, July 17, 2005

You and Your Newborn: Leaving the Hospital

After you give birth to your baby, you will look forward to the day that you and your newborn can go home from the hospital. When that day comes, however, you may be surprised at how nervous you are-- especially if you are bringing home your first baby.

Even if you don't like hospitals, there is a sense of security that you may have while you and baby are in there. Your doctor will check on you daily to make sure that you're not having any postpartum problems, such as heavy bleeding or unusual cramping. You baby's doctor will also make the rounds to check on your newborn to make sure that he or she is eating enough and progressing well. And if you're having trouble with nursing, the maternity ward nurses are experts that are always there to help you get baby to latch on properly.

So even if you are looking forward to going home, you may be surprised to find that you are a bit apprehensive about it. As you leave the safe confines of the hospital, the realization may hit you like a ton of bricks: you are responsible for this precious little baby. There will be no doctors or nurses to call into your room for help. No one to remember to feed your baby while you catch a few extra winks of sleep. No one to ensure you that your baby's diapers are wet enough (a sign that baby is getting enough fluid). Sure, you may have an eager grandparent or relative that will come by to help you out, but the bulk of the responsibility will be up to you. This can be hard, especially since you will still be recovering from giving birth and may not be feeling particularly energetic yourself.

The first few days home with your newborn are typically the hardest days that you will experience. Besides the chaos you will undoubtedly encounter just from being away for a few days, you will have well wishers calling, friends and neighbors stopping by and a baby that will need your constant attention. You will be tired and possibly a bit cranky.

If you're nursing, your milk will come in in full force a few days after you give birth. While the arrival of your milk will be a relief because you will be able to better gauge that your baby is actually consuming some nourishment (before your milk comes in, baby lives on a very small amount of pre-milk, or colostrum) it can also be a tad bit uncomfortable.

If you're lucky, your spouse, partner, or a family member will be home with you and the baby for the first week or so after you get home from the hospital. This will be a great help to you, as you may have difficulty getting around after the delivery (especially if you had a cesarean section delivery).

The good news is that most of your apprehension about bringing home baby will be quickly forgotten. You will be amazed at how you instinctively "know" what your baby wants. You will learn to decipher baby's hungry cry from baby's tired cry from baby's "dirty diaper" cry. You and your baby will naturally fall into a routine together and by the end of the first few weeks, you will be on a schedule that works for you both.

You will come to realize that the greatest joy in the world is bringing your baby home from the hospital.

No comments: