I’m not going to lie to you. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a private room, your stay on the Labour Ward is going to be far from luxurious. You’ll be surrounded by crying newborns, it will be very warm, the bed will covered in plastic and your sheets will probably keep slipping off it and you’ll crave the comforts of your home.
However, you will be surrounded by midwives who are there to help you learn to breastfeed and to generally watch over you and your baby which can be a great source of comfort. If you’re really lucky they might even look after your little one for you for an hour or so while you catch up on some sleep which can be an absolute godsend. So, even though you will probably be desperate to leave the hospital, I’d definitely take advantage of the advice and support on offer. You’ll be home before you know it!
Here are some more of my top tips if you end up staying on the Labour Ward:
1. If there’s space in your hospital bag, bring your own pillow. There’s something very comforting and cosy about sleeping on the pillow that you know and love.
2. I’d make sure that your husband/partner stays with you overnight if it’s allowed. Mr UFM was such a support to me throughout the entire 4 night hospital stay. I had a C-Section and he looked after both me and Poppy. He was our hero and I honestly don’t know what I’d have done if he hadn’t been with us.
3. If you’re worried about anything, ask the midwives for help. That’s what they’re there for. They are fountains of knowledge and have seen it all before. If they’re not too busy they’ll be happy to sit with you and help you learn to breastfeed. However, if you don’t master it in the hospital DON’T WORRY….there are so many people who can help once you’re home including health visitors, breastfeeding specialists (check out La Leche league) and amazing women at local children’s centres and clinics.
4. Leading on from the above point, if you are finding it hard to feed initially (as I did after my C-Section) don’t hesitate to give formula. Your baby needs food. There is no point in beating yourself up because your milk hasn’t come in yet or because your newborn isn’t latching. You can master breastfeeding over the coming weeks. Bring formula and bottles with you to the hospital and ignore midwives who don’t support you if you decide to initially go the formula route. What’s worse…a baby who hasn’t had breast milk or a baby who hasn’t had any milk at all??
5. An additional option if you’re struggling with the breastfeeding thing is to ask the midwives for a pump to help your milk come in. This really helped me and I managed to extract a bit of the all important colostrum which we fed Poppy with a tiny pipette. You can combine this with formula.
6. Bring flipflops and wear them when you’re moving around the ward and in the shower. Bear in mind that you’ll probably want to chuck them after your stay so don’t take your expensive ones!
7. Also, take a thin dressing gown. As I said before, Labour Wards are very warm so you won’t want your big fluffy one.
8. Bring loads of tasty snacks and favourite food bits. Sorry to say this but hospital food is pretty gross and surprisingly unhealthy. After giving birth you’re very constipated and I remember being really surprised at the lack of fresh fruit and veg on offer…it was all white bread and stodge which is no help to anyone. I recommend taking along lots of dried fruit,healthy snacks and perhaps some prune juice?
9. Remember to take photos. You’ll treasure them in the future.
I’m sure there’s lots more to add but hope this is a useful guide. Having a new baby can feel very overwhelming but it is also the most magical and beautiful thing that you’ll ever do. The hospital stay is so fleeting so try not to feel overwhelmed and embrace all the help that is on offer.