The nursery is ready, and your bags are packed. You’ve attended the classes and read the baby books. You feel ready, but there are a few things that nobody prepares you for. Plenty of things surprise people about having a baby, so here’s what your postpartum nurse wants you to know.
6 Things Your Postpartum Nurse Wants You To Know
Here are six things your postpartum nurse wants you to know about after you give birth to your baby.
1. It Can Be Difficult to Rest in the Hospital
To ensure you and your baby are healthy and safe, your nursing staff will be rounding every few hours. Your postpartum nurse wants you to know they will monitor your vital signs, assess your bleeding, and administer medications. Your doctors and your baby’s pediatricians will also check in and evaluate your health.
Between everyone popping in and those late-night feedings, it may feel like you can’t catch a break. But I assure you, your hospital team wants to ensure you recover safely. You can request that your nurse and nurse’s aide cluster your care visits together to give you as much rest as possible.
2. After Delivery, Your Nurse Will Press on Your Abdomen
Once you deliver your baby, the nurses will perform a fundal massage. A massage may sound nice, but this one can be uncomfortable. Your postpartum nurse wants you to know they or another provider will push on your abdomen to feel your uterus. After delivery, your uterus should be nice and firm to prevent too much bleeding. If it is not firm, they will massage your uterus on your abdomen, stimulating your uterus to firm up again. If you had significant bleeding at delivery, your nurse might have to perform your fundal massages frequently.1
Every few hours, your nurse will feel your uterus and massage it to make sure it’s firm and contracted. This encourages the uterus to shrink back down in size. Try not to tense up during these fundal massages.1
3. Postpartum Cramps Can Feel Like Contractions
Something that shocks many new moms is that you may experience contraction-like cramps after you deliver your baby. These are sometimes referred to as “afterbirth pains.” Your uterus is working hard at clamping down and shrinking to its previous size. This is our body’s way of preventing too much bleeding, but it can be painful. Luckily, they’re not nearly as intense as labor contractions.2
These cramps tend to come on when you’re breastfeeding due to the release of the hormone oxytocin. Applying heat to the abdomen may be comforting, and many hospitals have heating pads available. Don’t hesitate to ask your nurse for a heating pad to help with the discomfort. Many moms also find pain medications such as ibuprofen to be helpful. The cramping typically lasts two to three days and should fully subside after a week.3,4
4. We Never Judge How You Feed Your Baby
Your postpartum nurse wants you to know that they and the doctor will ask if you wish to breastfeed or bottle feed because they want to know how to support you best. Do you want to breastfeed? Your nurse can show you how to latch your baby or request a lactation consultant. Do you want to bottle feed? No judgment here; let’s get you some bottles and formula.
Not everyone wants or can breastfeed their baby, and that’s okay. Your hospital will have baby bottles and formula available, and your nurse can guide you on how much to start with.
5. Second-Night Syndrome
Babies are most alert right after they’re born. This is known as the golden hour. This is when many babies will have their first feeding. After that first hour, babies become very sleepy. They’re recovering from birth, too, after all.5
Encouraging your baby for their feeding during that first day may be challenging. But after the first 24 hours, babies tend to wake up and become more alert. This is when they will make up for lost time and participate in what many refer to as the “second-night syndrome.” If you’re breastfeeding, this means your baby will want to cluster feed frequently. Sometimes, it feels like it’s nonstop.6
Cluster feeding has many moms questioning their supply. But this is very common and is your baby’s way of encouraging your milk to come in. If your baby produces enough wet and dirty diapers and is not losing too much weight, you can follow your baby’s lead and know it is temporary.7
6. Nurseries are Becoming a Thing of the Past
More hospitals are promoting “rooming-in” with your baby. Your postpartum nurse wants you to know this means instead of sending your baby to a nursery, babies remain in the room with their parents. There are many benefits to rooming-in:8
- It promotes bonding. Having your baby in the room allows you to get to know your baby. This helps build confidence in caring for your new baby.9
- Being close to your baby allows you to notice their feeding cues and respond accordingly. You can respond to early feeding cues before your baby gets overly hungry and is harder to console. This promotes better breastfeeding outcomes.10
- Babies who room-in have more stable temperatures and blood sugar levels. When babies are close to their parents, they are more likely to participate in skin-to-skin contact. Skin-to-skin has many benefits, such as better temperature regulation and blood sugar levels in the baby.11
Skin-to-skin helps regulate the baby’s heart rate and breathing. It encourages relaxation and reduces stress hormones for mother and baby. And it’s not just for mothers either; dads can benefit from skin-to-skin, too. What could be better than fresh newborn snuggles and that new baby smell?11
Becoming a new parent comes with many unknowns, but your postpartum nurse wants you to know you got this! Give yourself grace, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take advantage of the short time you’re in the hospital. Nurses enjoy teaching new parents. And remember, there is no better parent for your baby than you.