Our new baby is two weeks old as of yesterday. Here are the things I forgot or relearned the second time around. I hope these notes help someone else headed into delivery.
Labor & delivery isn't the same the second time around:
- I was induced with our first son and only had pitocin-induced contractions. It REALLY is true that in 'natural' labor, you do get a pain-free break in-between contractions. I didn't believe the women who told me this. Happy to say they were right, I was wrong.
-I actually had a harder delivery with this baby. We were both fine, and I'm recovering, but I went in with the expectation that it would be easier than delivering my first. It's good to go in with an open mind.
Things I wish I had brought with me to the hospital:
-one of those eye masks airlines give you; might make it a little easier to sleep. Hospital rooms are bright during the day AND night
-nasal spray to help reduce dry nose from the air in those rooms (I was able to get some from the hospital pharmacy)
-pillow for my husband--they didn't provide him one.
-T-shirt to wear over my nursing tank (so all the photos wouldn't be quite so busty)
Things I was really happy to have in the hospital:
-My husband. This sounds obvious, but the only thing I really needed was him. Everything else was just nice to have.
- Granola bars for middle of the night; charger for phones; make-up (make the effort to put some on... the difference in the pictures is remarkable)
-Nursing tank and maternity (or just loose) PJ bottoms--I got out of the hospital gown the morning after our baby was born and I felt so much more human!; my own clothes for the baby--he was 9 pounds 11 oz and too big for the infant shirts they provide at the hospital. The ones I brought were bigger and more comfy for him.
-A nite nurse who persuaded me to put the baby in the nursery so I could sleep a little on that second night. I hadn't sleep the first night when he was born, and she knew what I was headed for (see below about first night at home). If I could do it again, I would have sent the baby to the nursery the first night so I might have slept a little then. But who knows if that would have made a difference. There's such an adrenaline high after you deliver, it's hard to relax and go to sleep. I'm not sure there's a way to make the first few days of new, or re-newed, motherhood easier. Make sure your husband knows what's coming so he can support you.
-ice packs: USE THEM. And change them out more often than you go to the bathroom. You need that cold compress on your bottom to help with the swelling/healing. I didn't use the ice packs as much as I could have/should have.
-birth ball to sit on/lay over in labor
-my own pillow
-Gatorade (nice break from water)
-Chapstick (it's really dry in the hospital)
Things I brought but didn't need:
-slippers (I just wore the sock-slippers provided by the hospital)
-'fancy' going home outfit for me.
-my own underwear (I just wore the hospital-provided ones)
-ipod; I didn't end up listening to it.
Once we got home:
- The first night with the newborn at home is awful. He nursed ALL NIGHT. I almost lost my mind. But, by the next my milk came in, the baby was sated, and we got a little sleep. The all-night nursing is what brings in the milk... so it's important. But, if I could do it again, I might give a 2-oz bottle of formula to give me a little sleep.
-If you had a vaginal delivery, use the sits bath. It really helps with healing. Also, make sure you have extra maxi-pads at home, extra tucks pads, and cortisone cream. Set up a little station for yourself on each level of the house so you don't have to go upstairs to have all your stuff together.
-Set up changing stations for the baby on each floor of the house; stairs are not your friend in the first weeks after delivery, regardless of how the baby comes out.
-Get help in the house. I didn't expect we would need it. My husband was home for 2 weeks. We were so wrong. With a four-year-old to care for as well, we are absolutely knocked over with the burden of both new baby and big baby. We had another adult (aunt, friend, babysitter) with us for every night, and sometimes most of the day, for the first 10 or 12 days.
-Don't expect you'll be ready for visitors: we weren't until well into week two.