The birth of your first baby can be one of the most exhilarating, emotional and anxiety-inducing experiences you will go through. Staying in the hospital can seem overwhelming for anyone and having a baby can amplify feelings of stress and tension.
Labor and delivery (L&D) nurses, like Stephanie Lindsey with Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center, are there to help and put you at ease during those sometimes-daunting days. Read on for some of her best insider tips on having the best possible stay.
What to include in your hospital bag
Your stay will be 24 hours at a minimum, but could be 2-4 days. Pack your overnight bag for the hospital at least three weeks in advance in case of an unexpected early delivery. Here is Lindsey’s suggested packing list, including some extras that might help you feel more at home.
- Personal pillow
- Bedroom slippers and robe
- Towel from home, if desired
- Personal care items and toiletries you prefer
- Clothes for you and baby to wear home
- Breastfeeding gowns/sleepwear/bras, if applicable
- Baby book for recording first memories
- Infant car seat
Keep what you pack basic but comfortable, and don’t stress too much over packing exactly right, Lindsey said. Novant Health provides many items including basic toiletries, gowns, post-birth supplies, diapers, wipes, baby blankets, shirts and hats, and formula for mothers who wish to formula feed.
Make yourself at home
After you give birth, L&D nurses will help you with skin-to-skin care and breastfeeding almost immediately, before moving to a room. Rooms are large with ample furniture and space for a partner or spouse to rest as well. You will have your own private bathroom and shower space. You will have a television and can also bring personal items like iPads for movies.
Newborns room-in with mom, meaning they remain in the room at all times to promote bonding, except under special circumstances.
While in labor you will not be able to eat solid food, Lindsey said, but you can usually have frozen pops Popsicles, Jell-O, liquids, hard candy and gum. Once you have been cleared to eat, you will have access to a room service menu with meals delivered to your door that can be tailored to specific diets, if needed.
Expect lots of team-member visits
“The staff tries to be as quiet as we can, but we need to check in during specific times to make sure all is well,” Lindsey said.
Others you can expect in your hospital room include your OB-GYN and/or their partners, certified nursing assistants, lactation consultants, physicians, pediatricians/neonatal nurse practitioners, phlebotomists (drawing blood for labs), anesthesiologists (for pain control), and cafeteria team members bringing meals.
At Lindsey’s hospital, quiet time in the labor and delivery wing is observed from 2 to 4 p.m. daily. Pre-COVID, these designated hours were intended as undisturbed time for mommy and baby to rest with no visitors present. Even with new COVID restrictions, new moms are still encouraged to use the time to get as much rest as possible.
There is no more important delivery than yours
Look to your nurses for guidance
L&D nurses like Lindsey are trained to handle almost any situation and be your ally. Besides assisting with pain management and monitoring vital signs and bleeding, they help both mother and baby with the transition phase after delivery. They offer guidance to new parents, provide clinical care such as administering medications and helping with postpartum dressings, assist with skin-to-skin contact and bonding, and aid with breastfeeding if the mother chooses to nurse. (Lactation consultants also play a critical role in this regard.) For many new moms, L&D are one of the greatest sources of encouragement and advice during the hospital stay.
“In the 15 years I have worked for Novant Health, including delivering my own children here, I have never seen a labor or delivery that’s just like another one,” Lindsey said. “It’s quite normal to be nervous, but just remember that we do this work every day and you are in great hands. We love what we do and do what we love!”
It’s OK to ask lots of questions
It is perfectly OK and even expected that you will feel anxious and nervous. These feelings can extend well beyond actual childbirth, especially if you are a first-time mother. “No question is dumb or silly, and if you don’t ask, you’ll never know the answer,” she said. “We as L&D nurses are here to take the very best care of you, your new baby and your significant other.”
Stephanie Lindsey has been in nursing since 2002, first as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and since 2005 as a labor and delivery (L&D) nurse. Her entire career has been spent taking care of mothers and newborns for Novant Health.