Not surprisingly, perhaps, few mothers sleep well immediately after all the hard work and excitement of labor. The stay in hospital after giving birth is, however, very important. However excited and elated a mother may feel, she should resist the temptation to over-tax her energy so that, in the find, nature takes its course and she collapses into tears of exhaustion.
Even when the labor has been straightforward, a new mother needs time to replenish her energy and her body needs time to adjust from pregnancy, labor and the confinement Time is always well spent in hospital when a mother allows herself, within the limitations of the hospital routine, to make the most of the opportunity to relax and rest and to quietly get to know her baby. Apart from visits to the lavatory, you should spend most of the first day resting in bed.
From the second day onwards, you will probably want to get up for meals but, even then, you should spend a reasonable amount of each day resting in bed, building up energy for the time when you will need as much energy as you can muster to look after the baby and the home. The more relaxed and rested the mother is, the happier and more secure the baby will feel.
Many new mothers find it difficult to think about anything other than the baby, and the books that they planned to read in hospital remain
unopened. This is a natural sequence following a nine-month build-up to one event. The important thing is to relax the mind as well as the body. Indeed, the body cannot relax if the mind is running round and round in circles.
Although the day begins very early in hospital, it also passes very quickly. Some mothers reach the find of their stay in hospital without even having completed their ‘announcing a new arrival’ cards! it does, however, help to write these while in hospital-time will be at an even higher premium when the mother goes home and has an entirely new routine to adjust to.
The stay in hospital is an excellent time for you to examine your baby minutely, to reassure yourself that all his or her various parts are present and correct and functioning as they should, and to raise any queries and anxieties that you may have. It is also an excellent opportunity to observe how the professionals handle infants; the way that they support the baby’s head, for example, when bathing him so that he feels comfortable and secure; the ease and speed with which they change nappies or raise tiny arms and legs for dressing.
It can be very reassuring for a new mother to realize that newborn babies are not nearly as fragile as she may fear and that they can withstand firm handling; that, indeed, they respond well and feel more secure when handled confidently and firmly. It is also a very good time to raise any feeding queries or anxieties about the colour of a baby’s motions, etc. A new mother should never suffer in silence, whether the anxiety is concerned with a personal discomfort, such as soreness of the nipples when breastfeeding, constipation, or whatever, or concern about one or other aspect of the baby’s physical well-being or behaviour.
However busy any maternity ward is, the staff will understand that you need guidance and reassurance on many points. Attitudes have
changed tremendously in hospitals during recent years. The need for mothers and babies to spend time together so that the mother/infant relationship can bond-become established-from the earliest possible moment is now widely recognized. Babies being whisked off to nurseries and left almost entirely to the care of the medical staff throughout the early days of life, is increasingly becoming a thing of the past. These days the baby usually lies in abeside your bed, and you are encouraged to handle and to tend its needs from the onset of life.
The open-visiting system that is now practised by most hospitals has disadvantages as well as advantages. A new mother will welcome the opportunity to see her husband as often as he is able to visit and will, doubtless, welcome parents and parents-in-law, but this is probably more than enough excitement during the early days after the birth. For this reason, it is sensible to restrict visiting to one’s nearest and dearest relatives and not to encourage the attentions of friends and neighbours however pleased one usually is to see them.
Visiting time, as any one who has ever been in hospital knows, is a very concentrated period and can be very taxing for a newly delivered mother. There is always the temptation to ‘put on a good act’ however weary or weepy one may be feeling, just to reassure the family thatall is well and that you are delighted to be the mother of a new son or daughter. There is always less risk of hurting anybody’s feelings if you make the arrangement in advance to restrict visiting to close family only. Then, if you subsequently discover that you would like to see a particular person, arrangements can always be made at that point.
However busy the hospital routine, take time to care for your skin, hair and nails and to make yourself feel and look presentable. It is only ii easy, when you have a new baby to care fer. t, forget that you also need to care for yourself if you begin in hospital, you are much more likely to continue when you get home.