26 Tips for a Successful Hospital Stay After the Baby is Born
January 15, 2020
Congratulations! You have made it through the labor and delivery. Everything so far has led up to this moment and it can feel equally amazing and overwhelming. There are ways to get through these first beautiful sleep-deprived days. We hope you are encouraged by these dad tips for the first hospital stay.
You have just welcomed your little one into the world but it’s not time to go home right away. Instead, you and your partner will spend the next 48-72 hours in the hospital depending on the type of delivery. This is a time for the doctors to check in on mom, baby, and help to get you both ready to take home the new baby. A lot will happen in these days and we have your dad tips for the hospital stay.
The First Hour
The first hour after a baby is usually a flurry of activity. The medical staff are focused on two things. They are focused on making sure your partner is healthy and cleaned up after delivery. They are also checking your baby’s weight, length, and overall health. A lot of different things will happen in that first hour but there are ways you can be supportive and helpful.
Focus on the baby. While your partner is being checked on and cared for by medical staff, this can be your time to focus on your new baby. During the first hour nurses will most likely take the baby’s weight, length, check breathing, apply eye medicine, and potentially give the baby their first shot. Get pictures for your partner of your baby’s first moments. This will help her to feel included later. After a lot of this is done you will get to hold your baby or bring your baby to your partner.
Focus on your partner. Your partner has been through quite an ordeal and could use your support. Take some time with just you, your partner, and the baby in this first hour before inviting any family it. It will give you a chance to bond. However, it will also give you a chance to offer emotional support as she might breastfeed for the first time or physical support as she makes her first post-baby bathroom trip. The best way to help her in these first few days is to follow your partner’s lead. What does she need and how can you help?
Family and friends. During this first hour, your family and friends will want plenty of updates about the condition of the baby and your partner. Send an update but set some boundaries as well. This first hour is a flurry of information and a great time for bonding. Inform family and friends of the condition of mom and baby. Then take the rest of this hour to care for mom and baby. There will be plenty of time for everyone else after that first hour.
Settling in the room
After the baby comes your partner will be moved to a new room. Most facilities will call this the mother/baby unit. This is where you will spend the rest of your hospital stay with your partner. When you first get to the room you will meet your nurse, put away your belongings, and learn about the rules of your particular facility. The nurse will walk you both through where to find diapers, formula, pads, and more.
Family and friend visits
After you have settled into your room you will get to introduce your new little one to family and friends. This can be an exciting time as so many have waited with you to welcome your little one. However, these visits can quickly become overwhelming if they are not handled right. Here are a few tips for the family and friend visits in the hospital.
Set a time limit. While you may be excited to see friends and family, you are also potentially sleep-deprived and your partner has just been through quite a bit. Set a reasonable time limit for visits so that you can focus on your partner and your new baby. There will be plenty of time for longer visits after the baby comes home. Talk to your partner before letting people in the room about how long she is comfortable with having visitors or even if certain visitors should get less time than others.
Make handwashing a priority. If you are planning to let your friends or family hold the baby, require them to wash their hands first. During the first few days of the baby’s life you don’t want to introduce any sicknesses to mom or baby. Hand washing is a simple way to prevent the spread of illness and protect mom and baby. Many new parents have pre-packaged hand wipes tucked away in a diaper bag for easy access to cleaning hands.
Set a do not disturb time. Many people will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps. However, they don’t tell you that friends and family will still show up while you are sleeping. Most times a nurse or the security desk can set a do not disturb for you. This will mean that visitors will be asked to wait or return at a later time. Your partner’s rest in the hospital is so important and should be prioritized as she heals and takes care of a new baby. Don’t be afraid to turn people away so you can care for her and the baby.
Paperwork and rules
One of the things people don’t tell you about when it comes to the first 48 hours is all the paperwork you will be in charge of filling out. This can include choosing the baby’s name, filling out social security request forms, and so much more. Don’t let it overwhelm you though. You have the entire hospital stay to get this in order. Here are a few of the things you can expect.
The birth certificate - At some point, a nurse will come into the room and start to prepare the information for the birth certificate. This will include asking for the baby’s name and proper spelling. The nurse will also need the name of the mother and father for the birth certificate. Not all situations are the same. Don’t be offended if you are asked if you are the father for the birth certificate. Make sure to have a conversation beforehand about whether you are going to be placed on the birth certificate if you are not married. Not all couples choose to add the father to the birth certificate. Know what your particular situation will be before the nurse comes in.
The first doctor appointment - While you are in the hospital, the staff will tell you to make the first pediatrician’s appointment. Most facilities will require you to have a pediatrician appointment scheduled before you can be discharged. Calling your child’s pediatrician to set up this appointment is a simple way to help your partner. When you call, tell the staff you have just welcomed a new baby and need a new appointment. *Pro Tip- Ask for a less busy time in the office. You will want this appointment at a time when there will be less sick children and less chance of your newborn getting sick.
The feeding/changing log - In an effort to keep from waking mom every time the nurses come in, they will have you keep a feeding/changing log. This is a sheet provided by most locations where you can log the times for feedings and diapers. On this form, you or your partner will fill out a few things, last feeding time, how long did they feed or how many ounces did they take, last diaper change and whether it was urine or poop. While this form can seem like an inconvenience, it helps nurses to track the baby’s health in a less invasive way.
Testing and Procedures
During the hospital stay, there are tests and procedures that could potentially be done on your baby. These tests and procedures are part of the process and are something you can prepare for. We’re going to share a few of the common tests and procedures so you know what to expect.
The Hearing Test - At some point in the hospital stay your baby will get a hearing test. This is not an invasive procedure and many babies sleep through it. Your baby will be swaddled and placed in the provided baby bed. The professional in charge of the test will put headphones on your baby and watch to see how they react on a monitor. You can read more about newborn hearing tests and how it might impact your baby from HealthyChildren.Org.
The circumcision - If you choose to get your baby circumcised, most facilities will do this during this hospital stay. A nurse will take your baby to a separate room, do the procedure, and then bring you back your baby. Depending on the type of circumcision they do you may have to use gauze and cream when doing diaper changes. You can learn more about circumcision from Kids Health. Not all insurances will cover this procedure so you may have to pay a doctor cash or pay out of pocket while in the hospital to have this done.
Blood tests - Most facilities will require the baby to have some blood work during the hospital stay. This could be a simple foot stick to check iron and blood sugar or more labs to check on the baby’s overall health. Most of the time these tests can be done in the room with you. The baby will probably cry and you or your partner can soothe the baby after the fact.
The First Night
The first night in the hospital is usually an eye-opener for most dads. In general, newborns are up every 2-4 hours needing to be fed or changed. If your partner is breastfeeding, it can be tempting to sleep through it and let her handle that. However, she still may need your help and support. Here are a few ways to be proactive on the first night after your baby is born.
Wake up for feedings - If your partner is breastfeeding she may not need you to handle the feedings. However, she may need your help positioning her pillows, getting her a drink, or holding the baby while she gets situated. If you are bottle-feeding, you may be asked to take over some of the feedings so your partner can use this time to rest a bit. Don’t be surprised if you don’t sleep much at night.
Nighttime diaper changes - Even if your baby is feeding well, they may still need a nighttime diaper change every 2-4 hours. This is the time when you will notice just how many diapers a newborn can go through. Helping your partner with changings can help her to have a moment to use the restroom or grab an extra few minutes of rest. Make sure to log these changings on the provided sheet.
The baby will cry. It’s not an if or a when - Babies cry. Many babies don’t know the difference between night and day. This may mean that your baby wakes up after a few minutes of laying there with no interaction cries. A wise nurse once said, “When the baby is crying ask yourself, is the baby hungry, does the baby need changing, is the baby uncomfortable?” If you have fed the baby and changed the baby then it may be time to hold the baby or swaddle the baby so the baby is more comfortable.
Feeding, Diapering, and More
Welcoming a new baby means that you will have to learn to do things you may or may not have ever had to do in the past. It isn’t as simple as feed the baby or change the baby. Sometimes there are added circumstances that make this a bit more complicated. The first few days are a learning curve for everyone and can be overwhelming. However, we have some tips for feeding and diapering a newborn.
Feeding a new baby
There are multiple ways your baby may be fed in the first few days. Many moms will try breastfeeding. Some choose only a bottle. There are those who do both and even those who try options that don’t fit with either of these. Feeding the baby can be a beautiful experience. Even better, there are ways you can help.
If your partner is breastfeeding it can be easy to feel like you are simply an outside part of the equation. After all, she’s the one with the supply the baby is demanding. However, the adjustment to breastfeeding can be very difficult for your partner. Not all breastfeeding situations are easy at first. Here are a few ways you can be of help to your partner.
Be an encourager - Breastfeeding may not be easy for your partner right away. In fact, the adjustment can be more than a little bit frustrating. She will need you to be her support as she and the baby learn together. Focus on her wins and celebrate them with her. Not sure what a win is? Her nurses can help you to learn what is good when she is breastfeeding. Some things to celebrate are a good latch, a first complete feeding, and the fact that she is trying in the first place.
Set her up to succeed - There are so many things that moms worry about when it comes to breastfeeding. You can help her to succeed by doing things like helping get her boppy or pillows ready to prop up the baby. You can also hold the baby while she gets situated and ready. Another way you can help is by undressing the baby so the baby can do skin to skin time with mom while nursing. Follow your partner’s lead though and make sure you are doing what she needs most in this moment.
Handle the post-nursing needs - Many babies will need a diaper change right after nursing. Go ahead and handle that for mom so she can use the restroom or head back to sleep. You can also put away her pillows. One of the big ways you can help her is by marking down her nursing information on the form from the nurse. *Pro Tip - Mark on that sheet an L or an R. Most moms will forget which side they nursed on first and that can be important for the next nursing session. Mark it in on the sheet so she knows where to start at the next feeding.
Bottle-feeding gives you the chance to take over some of the feedings and be more involved. Many hospitals will even provide pre-made bottles so you only need to feed the baby what is already provided. A lot of this will depend on whether your partner wants the baby on the formula provided. If not, you may end up mixing a bottle. Here are a few tips for bottle feeding.
Preparing a bottle - Some places will provide premade bottles. This will mean you will need to open the bottle, screw on the top with the nipple, and feed the baby. However, not all facilities will provide this. You may have to mix formula with purified water in order to make a bottle. Make sure the diaper bag you carry has room for several bottles, formula, and water.
Proper positioning for feeding a baby - You will want to make sure you are holding the baby in the right way. If a baby is in the wrong position they can be more likely to choke or become gassy. You will want the baby to be more angled instead of flat on their back. This will give them the ability to digest the food more naturally.
Burping the baby - You will need to burp the baby halfway through a feeding and again at the end of a feeding. This will help you to avoid a gassy baby who is more uncomfortable. It can seem counterintuitive to stop a baby from eating in order to burp them. However, it really will help your baby in the long run.
After a feeding - Burp the baby after the feeding. Most babies will need a diaper after a feeding so you will want to take care of that. After you finish with the diaper change, you will want to log the amount fed and the time fed on the provided sheet.
Diapering a baby
Changing diapers is one way you can be involved with the care of your newborn and support your partner. Most hospitals will provide all that you need for diaper changes while you are in the hospital. The only exception to this would be if you are choosing to cloth diaper or use a different brand than what is provided to you. Diapering your baby doesn’t have to stress you out with some of these easy tips.
Changing a Girl - Changing a girl’s diaper is very different from changing a boys. For a girl diaper change, you will want to make sure you are only wiping from front to back. There will be a lot of skin folds and creases where her legs meet her diaper area. Make sure you are wiping those as well. Sometimes girls will have a bit of spotting of blood when first born due to hormones. This is nothing to worry about. Simply change her as you would without it.
Changing a Boy - Changing a boy is a very different experience. You will want to make sure to point the penis down during changing or put a baby wipe over to avoid getting peed on. Make sure to lift the scrotum and wipe under and around it. If there was a circumcision, follow the care instructions given by your doctor. You will also want to point the penis down before closing the diaper. This will avoid the baby peeing up and out and out of the diaper.
Avoiding a bigger mess - Babies will use the bathroom in the middle of a diaper change. Place a clean diaper underneath them before starting the change. This will make it so that if there is an accident during changing, they will mess on a diaper instead of wherever they are being changed. Wipes can go into the dirty diaper during a change so they can be wrapped up and disposed of easily. Don’t be surprised if they do mess during a change. Simply make sure to get a new clean diaper and you will be okay.
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Welcoming a new baby is a huge learning curve. There are so many new skills you have to learn and you do so with less sleep than is normal. If your partner is also breastfeeding, this can add to the number of things you have to learn and do in the beginning. Having a wife who is breastfeeding can leave you feeling like you are unable to help. We would like to share how to support your breastfeeding wife.