Hospitals are not often lauded as the most comfortable places to stay. It can be difficult to rest well in a hospital room, thanks to the incessant beeping of machines and the constant rotation of staff in and out of the room. Add a fussy newborn to that mix, and a restful, invigorating experience can be almost impossible. However, when you don’t have a choice, sometimes you just need to make the best out of a tough situation. Below are some tips that can help make your hospital experience more comfortable.
Pack Your Own Food and Drinks
“But Mary,” you may be wondering, “can’t we order meals at the hospital?” Yes, you can. However, the hospital kitchen is not just outside your door. It usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour for your food to be delivered, sometimes even longer. This is why it’s a great idea to pack snacks and beverages for yourself. You will be hungry following your birth. Labor is hard work. You need to make sure that you are getting enough nourishment, and the easiest way to do that is to bring food and drinks along with you to munch on in between your hot meals. I once fed a woman almost an entire rotisserie chicken immediately following the birth of her daughter, and let me tell you, she was very glad that she’d made the decision to pack that chicken.
Utilize the “Do Not Disturb” Sign
I had a client recently who expressed immense frustration with her hospital stay. She and her husband were subject to almost constant interruptions. It was only on the third and final day of their stay that they were informed that they had the option to use a “Do Not Disturb” sign. Understandably, they were deeply irritated that no one had told them that this was even an option until the last minute. The best way to avoid a situation like this is to ask the postpartum team to minimize interruptions as much as they can and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door.
Bring Your Own Clothes
Some moms end up hanging out in their backless hospital gowns for days because they didn’t realize that bringing their own clothes was an option. Not only do I recommend bringing your own comfortable clothes, but I also recommend bringing multiple outfits, because it’s more than likely that your clothes will end up covered in all sorts of bodily fluids during those first few days postpartum. Loose, flowing clothes are the best option. Robes are a great choice (just make sure they have a back!).
Bring a Breastfeeding Pillow
Bringing a breastfeeding pillow along with you to the hospital is a game changer, even if you aren’t planning on breastfeeding. Newborns are small but propping their tiny little heads up for a feeding quickly tires you out. Anyone tasked with feeding a baby, whether from a bottle or from the breast, should have a breastfeeding pillow to make the process more comfortable.
Hospital rooms usually have TVs, but I recommend bringing a laptop or a tablet so that you can access your Netflix or Hulu account. I've seen some people pack books, but very rarely have I ever seen those books actually leave the bag (I am including myself in this population. I now know to pack headphones and a charger!). Most people find that the hospital is better suited for distractions such as TV shows and movies. You will be grateful for the entertainment during the beginning process of an induction, or long feeds!
Pro tip: if you're getting induced, try watching your favorite comedies. Laughter releases oxytocin!