Before my baby was delivered by a Caesarean section, I read everything I could about what my recovery was going to be like, and talked to every mother I knew about her own experience, in order to feel more prepared for the postpartum period. Yet after my own experience I picked up a couple of tips and tricks, which I believe every soon-to-be mum should know and consider applying for a more comfortable experience at the hospital after the baby comes out.
Of course my hospital stay was already going to be at least two to three days so the advice I’m sharing is perhaps more relevant to other c-sec mums (which we often don’t know we are going to be, until the last week or minute!).
Here are the five little things I learned, which made a huge difference for me at the hospital.
1. Get to Know the Nurses
You’ll be served by an average of 10 to 15 different members of the hospital staff during your stay. They’re the ones who will dispense painkillers, clean your catheter and do everything you can’t. So get on their good side, fast.
Introduce yourself, your husband and even family members in the room to anyone attending to you. Ask for their names and remember to address them personally every time they come into the room. You’ll be exhausted of course, but simple greetings, saying thanks and even the smallest of smiles will result in you getting the best possible postpartum care; everything from an extra sponge bath (believe me, you’ll want more than one) to additional attention from midwives and lactation nurses (the ones you want to be really nice to). Your sincerity has another great pay off: your baby will get better treatment too. Some of the nurses who look after you are the ones who are looking after him when he’s not with you.
I really believe my baby became a favorite in the maternity ward not just because he’s smashingly adorable, but because I knew my nurse’s name and that she was a bright young woman who loved babies and was especially passionate about breastfeeding. Sending extra boxes of baked goods and chocolate from visitors to the nurses to be shared didn’t hurt either.
2. Lighting Matters
Fluorescent light or complete darkness need not be your only choices in your hospital room. Bring along a bedroom lamp to create a warm and calm mood in your room. You’ll also look your absolute worst right after the operation, and the yellow light will really make all those pictures of you snapped by absolutely everyone, that much prettier.
3. Pack Wet Wipes
Not for the baby (though you’ll need tons for him later), but for you. Between the physical post-surgery symptoms and the attempts to breastfeed a screaming newborn, you’ll be sweating profusely for at least the first 24 hours. And I mean you’ll be drenched and unable to take a shower or so much as wash your face.
Wet wipes (or a small face towel and a patient husband) are the ultimate must-have. Other indispensible items were breath mints and a box of tissue.
4. Do a Digital Birth Announcement
An app like Phoster lets you make a quick ‘poster’ that features a picture of your newborn and some relevant information about his birth. Send this to everyone on Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp and include a message about how you’re in recovery and won’t be able to respond (this will also help curb unwanted guests from visiting). Make a list of people you want to share the news with before the big day, and leave the spamming to your husband or friend.
5. Extend Your Stay
This is actually more for the baby. Your doctor will let you know when you’re good to go, but if you can afford to, stay an additional night and get a late check out the next day. Having experienced hospital staff to look after your baby for even just one more day is priceless, as newborns come with a million things to worry about. It will also give you a complete peace of mind while you get some much-needed sleep. It may be the last long stretch of sleep you’ll have for awhile.
Michelle Lim-Chua is a banana born in New York City, who fell in love with a boy from Melaka and became a mama of one.