If you are not happy or want something, ASK and have someone advocate. It is not a hotel, but you ARE the patient and you DO have rights.
- Make your wishes clear from the get-go: "I put a note in my baby's bassinet saying BREASTFEEDING: NO NIPPLES AND NO PACIFIERS."
- "If you are in a teaching hospital, you can request that you not be a part of the 'tour' of doctors in training if you are there for awhile. I don't know about you, but having people talk about you like you're not there with the labor of labor taking place was not something that I was up for!"
- "Have an assertive advocate and be assertive yourself if you have to."
- "You can say no to being separated from your baby, or to anything you don’t want done to yourself or your baby." "I labored in freezing Winter weather in a room with a broken window. I was so out of it that I didn't know it was broken; I was just freezing for my entire labor. My husband and mother, who were both with me, didn't think to request a room change... It would have helped a lot to not be tense and freezing...."
- Have an advocate at the hospital with you: “I was separated for four hours from my baby and my hubby after my C-section, and it was really awful. He didn't realize he could have pushed harder (no pun intended!) to get in to see me."
- "Don't be afraid to ask doctors and pediatricians if things don't feel right with post partum healing, nursing, pelvic floor, etc. I find that sometimes doctors will brush off issues of pain or tell you it's normal to pee every time you laugh or run for an entire year postpartum."
- "Be nice to your nurses. They can help you out when your doctor can't (or won't because they think you're fine), and if that doesn’t work, ask for a different one."
- "The best advice I received before I gave birth was: 'If you don't like your nurse, you can request a different one."
- "One of the nurses on duty after I delivered was pretty nasty to everyone, so that's exactly what I did."
- "Nurses in the hospital can be anti-breastfeeding. Ignore them and ask to see a lactation consultant!'
- "Bring sweets for the nurses. They work really hard and love treats. Plus they'll be super generous with you because of it."
LACTATION CONSULTANTS IN THE HOSPITAL:
- "Definitely ask to see a lactation consultant. They are really helpful and give you a lot of tips on how to successfully breastfeed."
- "I think that even if you are doing it correctly, breastfeeding just hurts in the beginning, but it does get better. And I agree with all of the pro-lactation consultant comments. I needed one for my second baby but not my first. Different babies latch on differently."
- "Definitely get a lactation consultant that asks you questions."
- "If you plan on breastfeeding, I cannot recommend enough seeking out a lactation consultant. I was unfamiliar with how home visits worked until close to my delivery but it was one of the best decisions I made. The cost is much cheaper than formula in the long run and it brings a huge piece of mind during a stressful and tiring time."
LENGTH OF STAY
- "If you want a 12-hour discharge, be sure to tell everyone who comes in your room. Be a broken record. They don’t care if you leave in 12 hours or 24, so you need to advocate loudly. Three hours before you are to leave, start making noise about discharge. They’ll have to wheel mom and baby out in a wheelchair, so be sure they’ve called up an orderly, and make sure they have all the paperwork. It’s also your responsibility to call your pediatrician to let them know you had a baby, want the 12-hour discharge, and are ready for a visit (make sure in advance that your pediatrician can authorize an early discharge). Don’t call them on the emergency line, though. If it’s the middle of the night, you can wait until the office opens."
- "You don't have to stay at the hospital the full two days (or more). "I left after 12 hours with both of my children, and it was the greatest thing I could have done to facilitate bonding, get real rest, and be comfortable breastfeeding." "I got no real rest in the hospital since I ended up getting a roommate at 3am and the nurses acting like I wasn’t even there. Between that and having my blood pressure and temperature taken every couple of hours, the only real rest I got was after I got home, even though I had a two-year old at home as well!"
NURSERY/ROOMING WITH BABY AT NIGHT:
- "Let the baby sleep in the nursery at night and ask the nurses to be sure to bring the baby to you for feedings. You get very little rest and any bit can help."
- "While many people have strong feelings about not allowing the nurses to bottlefeed your baby at night, I want to weigh in on the other side. With both of my kids I allowed it so that I could get some sleep the first night after delivering. The nurses brought the babies in first thing in the morning for me to feed them. Both of my kids were breastfed exclusively for the first year, and that night in the hospital didn't impede it or prevent latch-on."
- "If you are super-tired, let them bring the baby into you for feedings (if breastfeeding). Of course I did not take this advice the first time around, and I don't regret it. But the same friend who told me to do that the first time reminded me about it the second time, and that time I listened. I don't regret that either."
- "You can absolutely room with your baby, although all of her medical exams and tests will be done in the nursery. Have your partner or friend accompany the baby for everything, and feel confident that he or she can ask questions, stop a procedure, or ask for another nurse or physician if he or she wishes. Your partner must be your baby’s advocate, and know that he or she is in control of access to your child."
- "Don't feel guilty if the baby sleeps in the nursery some of the time! You probably need the break."
- "Think through what you want to do ahead of time, although it will probably depend on what type of delivery you have. A woman who pushes for hours and then has a C-section may want to sleep through the night and be too exhausted to deal with a crying baby in the room. A woman with a quick and easy delivery will obviously have much more energy to keep the baby in the room."
DELIVERY & RECOVERY ROOMS:
- "Everyone gets a private room to deliver in. Very few people in NYC get a private room to recover in, If you are in the birth center when you deliver and all is well, you stay in that room until you go home and it is private. If you are in labor and delivery you get moved to a recovery room (or postpartum room) about 1-2 hours usually after giving birth. This is usually not private, it is shared. If you want, you can get on the first-come, first-served list to get a private room which you will need to pay for (if one is available)."
- "Push limits vary (and are most influenced by the care provider you choose). 3 hours is more common, but I have been at many births where a woman was allowed to push for 5 or more hours. ACOG recently allowed that women who have epidurals should be given at least 5 hours of pushing time before a cesarean birth is considered if the baby and mother are fine. So definitely as you are interviewing care providers ask that question. As long as the baby is fine, you should be allowed enough time to keep laboring and pushing. Your best bet is to be with a provider who will allow labor to take whatever time it needs provided all is well. I would also ask if the provider allows different pushing positions, because that makes a huge difference for some people where the baby is not descending. If you turn onto all 4s, or squat or use sidelying for some babies that is all they need to rotate and descend."
- Strongly request extra hospital swaddling blankets, the ones with the stripes. There is nothing like those for a good tight swaddle."
- "The hospital has some great stuff that I'm glad I grabbed. For example, there are those disposable blue padded plastic mats that are great for changing diapers, absorbing leaks while breastfeeding in bed, and, in those early days, protecting the bed from blood when you get home. They also have packs of nice disposable washcloths that I used with water for diaper changes in the first month or so, and, of course, the flannel baby blankets. A few days’ supply of maternity pads was also nice."
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