Take some luxury toiletries with you to pamper yourself and a large fluffy towel for a shower or bath, as well as suitable clothes to change into.
There is no need to sit around in your nightdress each day. When your partner visits you, let him spend time with your baby while you soak in a bath and get changed into clean clothes. You are in hospital because you have had a baby, not because you are ill, so there is no reason for you to stay in bed.
Nobody expects you to know what to do immediately. Many women have never even held a baby before and, not surprisingly, need help and support with caring for their baby. There are often nursery nurses or healthcare assistants working on the postnatal ward, as well as the midwives, and all of them will be pleased to show you and your partner how to top-and-tail your baby, change a nappy, wind your baby and so on.
Most maternity units are happy for two people to be in the labour ward with you during the birth. However, once your baby is born, they will probably prefer other visitors to wait until you have gone to the postnatal ward. This ensures that there are not too many people wandering around and that the dignity of other women who are still in labour is respected. An emergency situation can arise very guickly and it is best not to have a corridor full of visitors when staff members are trying to push a trolley into the operating theatre.
Length of stay
If you have had a normal delivery, you can usually have a wash or a bath on the labour ward, change your clothes, have something to eat and drink, and then move to a postnatal ward. Some women choose to go home directly from the labour ward if there have been no complications - particularly if they have had midwife-led care and are confident about feeding their baby. However, women usually go to the postnatal ward after an hour or so and stay in overnight, especially if this is a first baby.
How long you stay in hospital depends on a number of factors: Type of delivery If you have had a caesarean section you will probably stay in for 4-6 days.
Blood loss If you have lost a lot of blood, you may feel a bit wobbly and may even need a blood transfusion. Pre-eclampsia If you have had high blood pressure during your pregnancy, it still needs to be monitored after the birth to make sure that it settles down.
Your baby's condition If your baby was premature and was taken to a special-care unit, you may want to stay in for a few days so that you can be close to her.
Feeding Some babies take a few days to learn how to feed, either from the breast or the bottle.
Infections If you or your baby show any signs of infection, you may need a course of intravenous antibiotics, which will take a few days to take effect.
After the birth, the midwife will check both you and your baby each day to make sure that you are both well enough either to go home or, more commonly, to a postnatal ward. She will make sure that you are recovering well from the birth, that your blood loss is not too heavy and that any problems, such as a rise in blood pressure, are identified. She will also check that your baby is thriving, feeding well and that her cord is clean and dry.
|If I am tired, will the midwives look after my baby overnight?|
|This does not tend to happen nowadays because it is much better if your baby stays with you. However, if you have been particularly poorly, a member of staff may offer to look after your baby for a while so that you can get some rest. Staying with your baby at night is part of the process of getting to know each other - learning each other's sounds and smells, and feeding her when necessary Even if you feel tired, which is inevitable, you will probably be more relaxed having your baby with you, where you can see her, rather than wondering whether every cry you hear is your baby!|