You just had your baby — YAY!! But, now what?
As a labor and delivery nurse by trade, I could tell you stories all day long. But as an expecting mom, what do you actually want to hear? What would be helpful? I asked a few of my friends who are pregnant with their first babies what they really wanted to know.
Their request: what happens next?
You took classes, read books and most likely heard way too many gruesome stories about what to expect during labor and delivery. What about the neighbor who delivered in the car on the way to the hospital? Your best friend bought you ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ and talked you through exactly what chapters to read. You probably even toured the hospital at which you’ll deliver and took a class about child birth, which made your partner start to sweat!
But what happens afterward? Now you have a baby, a little life to take care of and all of those things you learned and obsessed about are over…what do you do now?
After thinking about it, my friends are right. I think back on all of the deliveries I have been a part of and often times after the birth, the mom exclaims “I did it!” then “Yikes, now what?”
“Now what” is the most wonderful aspect! Now you’re a mom! You’ve made it this far! Labor is amazing, hard work and rewarding, but labor is only one small part of a much bigger experience that you’re embarking upon. Look down at that beautiful little baby and take a few moments to just be happy and proud because you’re incredible! And yet, the lurking question of “now what?” remains.
First, almost immediately after delivery, and possibly the most common “unknown” is the shakiness you will feel.
Your body goes through a huge transition from being pregnant to delivering. Your hormones will shift, which may cause the shakes. Think of it like an adrenaline rush, your body starts shaking, not necessarily a bad thing, just uncomfortable and unnerving if you don’t know what’s happening. So, expect that.
Next, at Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, we encourage our new moms to enjoy skin to skin contact with their baby for that full “golden” first hour of life.
Skin to skin time can be spent learning how to get a good latch and breastfeeding for the first time, taking pictures of the new addition to your family or just spent snuggling. Research shows that keeping your baby skin to skin with you improves infant temperature regulation, improves breastfeeding and lowers stress hormones.
After that golden hour, there are three medications that the Centers for Disease Control highly recommends for your baby.
Of course if you want to stay skin to skin, ask the nurses to give the medications with your baby on your chest, there’s nothing wrong with that! First, erythromycin ointment is applied to your baby’s eyes to prevent bacterial infection from the birth canal. Next, vitamin K is administered as an injection to your baby’s thigh to assist your baby’s blood clotting process. Third is a vaccination to prevent the contagious liver disease Hepatitis B. These medications will be offered to you for your infant shortly after delivery – know that they’re recommended but not required.
Next is breastfeeding, oh breastfeeding.
If you were to ask first-time moms what is causing them the most stress, I’d bet my favorite pair of Kate Spade shoes they would tell you breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can be hard. It sometimes takes a good teacher, practice and dedication, but it is worth it. At Sky Ridge, we have amazing lactation consultants who help our new mom’s with breastfeeding, including positioning, recommendations and assessing the latch. I encourage you to see a lactation consultant while in the hospital if you’re having a difficult time getting started. But be easy on yourself…you’re just getting started! It will take a little while for you and your baby to become synchronized and comfortable. Ask for help. Don’t get discouraged. You will both get it, expect that!
The last topic is a two pointer. First, I always encourage expecting families to go to a class before their delivery.
Most hospitals, Sky Ridge included, offer many classes from infant safety and breastfeeding to daddy boot camp and sibling preparation. Please, consider attending a class! If nothing else, it’s good to hear the information at least once before you arrive at the hospital. You have a lot going on in your life and this will help allay any fears.
That being said, whether you go to a class or not, your labor and postpartum nurses will help teach you a variety of care techniques while you are in the hospital.
They will talk to you about diaper changing, umbilical cord care, how often to breastfeed and your baby’s sleep patterns. Always remember that no question is dumb, no question is dumb, NO QUESTION IS DUMB. I cannot say that enough. We do this every day, so what seems routine for us, may not be common for you. Never hesitate to ask questions. You nurses will also provide you with information on who to call if you have questions once you get home. Expect that!
The most important thing to note is that everyone is different. Although there are certain things that every person can presume will happen, every labor, every delivery and every baby is unique. What worked for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. But guess what? That’s okay. And you’ll be fine, actually, you’ll be great. Expect that!
For more information about skin to skin, breastfeeding, prenatal classes, infant medications, and other general information please reference our Sky Ridge Medical Center Website.