Still on maternity leave and there a few things I’ve learned in conversing with other new moms. Apparently, my experiences were similar, but none of us knew about it until we got there. SO, for all you expectant ladies… here are some things to keep in mind before you deliver or things hospitals should start thinking about to not have people leave with a bad taste for healthcare.
- Nurses are humans with personalities that don’t always jive with yours. During the first ‘shift’ while I was in the hospital postpartum, the nurse watching me was supersweet and very attentive. She helped me with all kinds of things and with my complication, it seemed like I needed extra help. Bless these women… seriously. Then, the next morning with the shift change, I met the next nurse who anything but super. Or sweet. She was almost cold (callous) and didn’t quite understand why I was asking for what I was asking for. But I didn’t want to proclaim that my lady parts were in a lot of pain even though I’m sure that’s typical, you know, after giving birth. More on this later. It was off-putting and with the postpartum emotions you have running through you, very difficult to comprehend. I imagined all nurses to be sweet little ladies who oozed with nurturing voodoo, but nope. They’re not all cut from the same cloth and when you think about it… no one in the same profession is. I’m not like the rest of my male engineering counterparts, nor am I like the other female engineers.
- Nurses are humans with opinions that don’t always jive with yours AND don’t often match each others’.I, along with my new mom friends, were often confused by the conflicting opinions of one nurse during a shift to the other. I chose to breastfeed our baby and in the beginning, it really sucks because you don’t make milk and the babe is learning how to latch. It costs many tears and patience. So while you’re lying in the hospital bed struggling to cope with your crying newborn who is not latching, one nurse will admire you for supplementing a few mL of formula and then the next nurse will make you feel like THE WORST MOTHER EVER, because ‘how dare you intoxicate him with milk that did not come from his mother!’ I was so confused and all of their opinions made sticking to my decisions more difficult. After all, these nurses know far more than I about childcare. I had been a mother for less than 24 hrs. It would help if hospitals either took the position for their staff to ask the opinion/decision of the mother first and supported it (unless she wanted to smoke crack) or had their staff aligned with a certain position. I didn’t need to be happy during one nurse shift and then cry during the next.
- Don’t be so tough with the pain. Labor hurts. Recovering from labor hurts even more. Quit trying to be the ‘tough’ woman who doesn’t need that painkiller or help walking to the bathroom. I found that most women had the same mentality I did, where they downplayed their pain levels. After all, women in far less glamourous positions have given birth to babies in the wild somewhere without so much as a… bed… or 10 clinicians in a room monitoring every health stat. It’s OK to say that you’re hurting. No one will think less of you for requiring some relief. If it means that you’ll be able to focus more on that beautiful baby, then call for the Ibuprophen. Just don’t get addicted or anything like that. That’s no good.
- They don’t tell you everything. Right after delivering, they took Kyler away from me for a few hours. I thought this was normal procedure until we grew impatient and asked them where our kid was. They had taken him to the nursery to monitor him and administer antibotics because he was born with a fever. Well, gee, thanks for the information! Later, one of the nurses nonchalantly told us that he failed his first hearing test while wheeling him out to take the second test. Excuse me??? He can’t hear? OMG! *Insert additional new parent freaking out here*. Later, we found out that it was normal to have to take two hearing tests. Thanks for saving me the grief. As I’ve shared with my new mom friends, they all unfortunately had the same experiences. The hospital staff just don’t tell you everything. While I can see the benefit of not having the parents prematurely freak out – it would be nice if the expectation were set. "We don’t want you to freak out about your new baby having issues so we’re going to not disclose where we’re taking him or why he’s got this giant needle sticking out of him right away."
- Shift changes = discontinuity of care. You mean, I don’t have the same nurse with me for the full time I’m in the hospital?! WAAHHH. Nurses are people with lives and schedules, but it’s easy to forget. Unfortunately, this means that while in the hospital, you see MANY clinicians and you end up having to retell your story and state of BEING a kajillion times. By the end, it was like a well-rehearsed speech. "Hi, I’m Thao. Nice to meet you Lady-whose-name-I-will-try-really-hard-to-remember-but-in-fact-won’t. That kid is breastfed. I need help managing this pain. I don’t mind you coming into my room whenever. And so forth." I had the assumption that they would all know my story and I wouldn’t have to retell anything. We were with a hospital practicing EMR too and it still doesn’t make the whole thing seamless. Just shows you that the transfer of information can suffer. As long as you’re prepared for it, it won’t be a big deal. I was rather ill-prepared and had way more romantic notions of care in the hospital.
I guess as a healthy person who doesn’t end up in the hospital ever, it’s not like the movies or like the dozen hospital dramas on TV, at least in my experience and the experiences of my friends. Hopefully, you can reset your expectations to align with what really goes down – a whole lot of confusion for first-time parents.