I think a lot of first-time moms who have their babies in the hospital are likely staying overnight in a hospital for the first time. Even though I work at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, which is where I delivered, I was still really nervous about being a patient. Here are six things that surprised me most about being a Birth Center patient:
- You’ll probably go more than once. I was definitely embarrassed that I got sent home after my first trip to the hospital, but I’ve been assured that this is completely normal and that most first-time moms come in for a false alarm. In some ways it was nice, because it was like a trial run for the real thing less than 24 hours later and I knew what to expect with the triage process. When you don’t know what labor feels like, it’s completely understandable that you’ll be extra cautious and want to get to the hospital if you have any reason to believe you’re in labor – and that’s ok! The triage nurses are wonderful and will help you understand where you’re at in the process and give you confidence to know when things are really starting to happen.
- You might stay in a couple different rooms. This isn’t the case at every hospital, but at the Shawnee Mission Birth Center you likely start in triage, then move to a labor and delivery room. If you need a C-section, that takes place in a separate Operating Room and then you go back to your labor and delivery room to recover. A couple hours after baby is born, you move to a Mother/Baby room. Moral of the story – have your partner bring your bags into the Labor and Delivery room but don’t unpack everything until you move to your final room, where you’ll be for at least two nights before you go home.
- You don’t get a lot of alone time. During the day, your nurse will check in on you every hour. At night they check on you every two hours. On top of that, you’ll have daily visits from your OB-GYN and pediatrician and at some point in your stay the photographer and hearing screeners stop by. Managers also come by once daily to make sure everything is going well, and you might have visits from the neonatalogists if your baby needs any extra attention like our Violet did. And this isn’t including visits from your family and friends! I thought it was nice to have visitors and break up the days, but by the time we went home I was really ready for some alone time (or time with just me, my husband and baby).
- You get free goodies. Ok, they’re technically not “free,” but before you leave be sure to clean out the supplies in your room! Open packages of diapers, wipes, pads for mom and breast pump parts can’t be reused, so make sure you take them all with you! You should also take your peri-bottle (I asked for an extra so I could have one in each bathroom at home) and a couple of the cooling ‘padsicles.’ We also were welcomed to take swaddle blankets (one of which we took home right away for our dog to snuggle with) and a little wrap top that was extra comfy for baby while the umbilical cord stump is still sensitive.
- You won’t feel like yourself. This one should be a little obvious, but I hadn’t anticipated how terrible I would feel those first days post-baby. I see pictures of women with beautiful hair and makeup who look perfectly content minutes after having their babies, and let me tell you – that wasn’t me! Even if I hadn’t gone into labor in the middle of the night and spent so long pushing to end up with a C-section, that wouldn’t have been me. I didn’t want to put on makeup, do my hair or even shower. I was completely swollen from the fluids I received in labor, so my face and legs were fatter than when I was pregnant. I was exhausted and a little out of it from pain medication (I ended up going to a lower dose, but the first dose had me feeling pretty loopy). I don’t have any advice to make yourself feel better other than to not be too hard on yourself. Your visitors, baby and partner don’t care what you look like. They want you to rest and are proud of what you accomplished – delivering a beautiful baby!
- You’ll miss your nurses. The first days home I missed my nurses so badly! I’d taken the classes, read the baby books and prepared myself as much as possible, but they were the best resource I encountered. Ask lots of questions! I would type things into my phone and write them on the whiteboard in my room as they came to mind so I wouldn’t forget when a nurse came in again. They helped us with diaper changing, swaddling, bathing, breastfeeding and the car seat, and answered all my weird, nervous first-time mom questions without making me feel stupid. You don’t have that resource once you get home so be sure to take full advantage and don’t hesitate to ask anything. There are no stupid questions!