You've spent the last few months gearing up for the arrival of your bundle of joy. Now what? A mom who's "been there" teamed up with a nurse-midwife and infant care expert to guide you through the next stages.
A Few Tips for a Calmer Hospital Departure
The day before you are to check out of the hospital, send home as much 'stuff' as possible, especially flowers, plants, gifts, and any large items.
You probably will still be wearing maternity clothes--or at least ample, roomy clothes--for another two weeks. For the next two to six months, be prepared to wear clothes that are at least two sizes larger than your pre-pregnancy clothes.
When leaving the hospital, you will likely be escorted to the door in a wheelchair. Some hospitals allow you to walk to the door unescorted. Once you are released by the nurse or aide, carry only the baby and your handbag, and a burp cloth in case the baby spits up. Ask the person accompanying you home to carry everything else.
A new mother walks more slowly than usual, especially after a Cesarean. Take your time. Checking out of the hospital always takes longer than you think it will. If you are still taking painkillers, keep them handy to make the journey home as comfortable as possible.
Ask the person accompanying you to bring the car close to the hospital door.
If you have never put a baby in a car seat, don't underestimate how complicated this can be at first. Try to read the instructions and practice at home before baby is born. Some mothers prefer to settle the baby into the car seat while still in the hospital, and then install the seat in the car with the baby already in place. Don't forget that you should never place the car seat in front of an airbag.
Pediatricians also advise against leaving the baby in a car seat for several hours. Once on the road, resist the temptation to take the baby in your arms to comfort or feed him. If you must take him out of the seat, ask the driver to pull over to the side of the road.
In winter, ask your family to turn up the heat in your home to 72°F the night before you come home so that the temperature will be comparable to that of your hospital room. Once you are at home, you can reduce the temperature one degree every day until you reach your household's normal temperature.
To save your partner needless trips to the pharmacy, buy all your sanitary napkins ahead of time for the four to six weeks during which you will be bleeding (special postpartum, extra-long and extra-absorbent for the early days or "overnight" pads, then normal ones for day and night, and finally smaller pads for light flows).
Before leaving the hospital, ask for the direct number of the maternity ward and the name of a nurse or two (and their shift hours) that you can call from home if you have an important question. Many hospitals provide a call service or "warm line" for new mothers with questions.