Birth and Beyond: Wisdom from Our New Parents

Park Slope Parents ran two Zoom sessions for expectant parents, which included new parents who had their babies in July, August, September, and October of 2020. We had someone join with a four-day-old! Here’s a summary of some of the great advice they imparted to our expectant parents from the Park Slope Parents November 2020, December 2020, January 2021, and February 2021 groups! Takeaways will also be included in the great document The PSP Birthing and Beyond Toolkit, which has a list of must-haves, best practices, things to think through around COVID, and so much more.

 

If you’re not yet part of the Park Slope Parents community, join us HERE.

 

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Birth and Beyond: Stories from NEW parents (October 2020 Zoom meetups edition)

 

Here’s some advice on what to take to the hospital. Also check out the PSP Birthing and Beyond Toolkit, which has a list of must-haves.

  • I didn’t pack anything special. They really had everything. My one suggestion is to bring snacks, especially for your partner!
  • Hospitals will typically give you things like shampoo, toothbrush, mom kit, etc. 
  • It’s preferable to pack light, especially since you may be released earlier than usual during this time. Here are a few baseline essentials:
    • BIG water bottle so that staff don’t have to fill it up as often
    • Nursing nightgown/nursing bra
    • Extension cord with multiple places to plug in devices
    • Long lead for your phone charger 
    • Car seat. Your partner may not be able to come back up if they leave, so bring the car seat with you.
    • Something for the baby to wear home
    • Your own pillow or Boppy/breastfeeding pillow (hospital pillows aren’t the best)
    • Ear plugs
    • Eye mask
    • Essential toiletries
    • Protein bars and snacks (more for the partner than the birth partner)
  • Other recommendations from folks included:If you go in at 40 weeks, take your bag with you just in case. Two of the five birthing moms had 40-week checkups and were immediately checked into the hospital.
    • Glow Light to use in the room so it’s got a nicer atmosphere
    • Depends (more comfortable than the mesh underwear)
    • Lip balm
    • Your own robe / PJs
    • Flip-flops for shower
    • Slippers
    • Stool softener (they wouldn’t give me any and I was so glad I took some with me)
    • Ear plugs
    • Hand-held fan (I delivered in August so might not need now)

 

 

Write down the names of the people who were at the hospital helping (or not helping) you.  It’s always good to follow up and praise great experiences!

 

Check on policies and availability on the following things, as hospitals vary:

  • Covid testing (Do they test partners? Do they do rapid tests? Do they do an antibody test?)
  • Whether the nursery is open (and whether you visit the nursery)
  • Whether you’re expected to labor in a mask (some want masks even if you’re Covid negative) and/or wear a mask in postpartum
  • Whether partners can come and go or if they have to stay
  • If food will be provided for partners
  • Whether partners can attend triage or have to wait outside (partners have said that the waiting can be tough during that time)
  • Visitor policies (some hospitals allow visitors now)
  • Whether private rooms are available. If so, you may have to sign up when you first get to the hospital to get in the queue. Some make you wait until the baby is born to move into a private room. Most are first-come, first-served. (Advocate for yourself on this one.) 
  • Whether you are allowed to eat during labor (either way, try to eat before you go to the hospital)
  • Virtual tour availability
  • Whether there are showers available (some shared rooms don’t have a shower)
  • Whether your baby will be with you the whole time (some take the baby away for tests, while others do the tests in your recovery room)

 

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People varied in the amount of time they stayed in the hospital. Some pushed to leave. Others said that if you stay longer, you can get extra help from the lactation consultants and the nurses, who are typically great and can answer new-parent questions and teach you tips and tricks like swaddling.

 

RESOURCES:

  • NYU has a free one-hour video called “Ready, Set, Baby”—just watched it before this and it said private rooms are first-come, first-served (can’t reserve) and very unlikely to get since they are being reserved for patients who need to be isolated for Covid reasons.
  • Recommended Birth Classes
    • Birth Matters
    • Fit Pregnancy
    • Bradley classes
    • Hypnobirthing CDs
    • Domingo
    • Birth-Ed
    • Freya app for timing contractions and talking you through them
    • Childbirth Education at Birthday Presence
    • Your Partner is Your Doula at NYU (SUPER helpful if you’re not having a doula, or even if you are, it teaches you and your partner ways to manage pain while laboring. You don’t have to be delivering at NYU to take it)
    • Pregnancy and Parenting at Tribeca Pediatrics. [Childbirth Education, Your Partner is Your Doula, and Pregnancy and Parenting] all happened to be taught by Robin Douthit, who was awesome. She’s a doula as well and was a great instructor.
    • PSP also has member reviews for birthing classes HERE!
  • Lactation Consultant Recommendations
    • Julie Rosen (found through Boober)
    • Boober
    • Kate Ruck
    • PSP also has reviews of lactation consultants HERE!
    • Tip: Make the most of lactation consultants at the hospital! I saw four different consultants. Check with your insurance, as some insurance carriers cover multiple lactation consultants (in and out of network).

 

You can typically negotiate with hospitals to reduce the bill once you get it. Same with anesthesiologists and other services. 

 

Advocate for yourself! Make your preferences known. If you don’t want your baby to have formula, or if you don’t want them to bathe your baby without you, then make your voice heard. 

 

Take turns sleeping so you and your partner can both get sleep.

 

If someone offers to set up a meal train for you, DO IT!

 

Some pediatricians will have a virtual consultation ahead of time. 

 

Visitation. Some people were allowing visitors; others were keeping it to a very limited number. Definitely more people are allowing visitors than five or six months ago. Some made sure the visitor had a DTAP shot and a flu shot. See also “I had a baby. When can I start seeing relatives in person?