Hello!! I have crawled out of my winter hibernation to bring you this public service announcement!!
How is this photography related?
It isn't! I have another job as an RN on a Postpartum ward. After working many nights I have a few pointers for those parents that are having a hospital birth, and plan on staying in the hospital for a night or two (or three).
This is something near and dear to me as I love working with Mom's and babies, but I often feel that parents are very unprepared for those first few night in a hospital setting.
1- After the baby is born, after its fed etc. SLEEP. You are going more than likely NOT going to have a quiet evening. If you can't sleep get your spouse or helper to SLEEP so that they can be awake at night.
2- Generally babies are cluster feeding like MAD on the 2nd night. You might not sleep AT ALL... so take turns with your support person. They sleep while you feed, you give them the baby and then YOU sleep. They might decide that they are perky right away and want to feed alllll day the first day, that's cool! But make sure you are resting.
3- Make SURE your support person is going to be helpful. If your partner is going to be as helpful as two tits on a boar (thanks co-worker from last night for that one LOL) then send him home and have someone else help you. Someone well rested that will GET UP and hold the baby at night, walk the baby, rock the baby, change the baby. A useless "support person" snoring on the ground is a waste of space.
4- Make your visitors LEAVE. Or better yet, let them visit you once you get home. You have 1-2 days in the hospital, maybe 3-4 for a section. Use that time wisely, resting, feeding, bonding. Having a million visitors is the best way to become exhausted. You will pay for it at night, and guess what? Where are the helpful guests then? Peacefully tucked into their beds sleeping.
5- If you are breastfeeding: If the baby is feeding and feeding and feeding and you are DONE, that is okay! WRAP them up and hand them off to your support person. Sometimes a baby wants to be cuddled. I don't know how many times I've taken a squalling baby and wrapped it up and cuddled it for a few minutes and it has fallen asleep, or been quietly alert. It doesn't ALWAYS need to be feeding 24/7, especially if you haven't slept in days and are going to tear your hair out from constant nursing.
6- Learn to swaddle, even just for the first couple days. You don't need to straighten out the whole body (bad for the hips) but learning to do a loose swaddle that keeps baby's arms away from their face is a life saver, especially at night.
7- To calm an inconsolable baby that is fed and changed. Swaddle the baby, hold the baby and bounce her/him gently up and down while saying "shhhhuhhh shuuhhh sshhhuuh" in their ear (like a womb sound). MAGIC. They will stop, I guarantee this works 95% of the time.
8- Don't forget, your baby is a human being. You can't just put them back in their bassinets and expect them to just fall asleep like one of those blinky-eye dolls. They have been listening to your heartbeat and your voice, have been basking in warmth in your uterus.. a cold bassinet is not always going to be the place that they want to be. Babies get bored too, they need to be held, talked to, loved... even at NIGHT. ;)
I know that we aren't all lucky to have a good support person and in that case, just do the best you can! Learn to swaddle and bounce the baby... and get some rest during the day. Don't forget, these nights don't last forever. One day these tiny, adorable, loud, demanding little bundles are going to grow up and you will look back at their photos and wonder how they were ever so small. Time flies by, even though those first few nights can be a killer... I am pretty certain they won't be the first sleepless nights of your life as a parent.