What Your Postpartum Nurse Wants You To Know

This post is a guest feature by Allison Clark, R.N. Allison worked as a postpartum nurse before moving into labor and delivery where she currently serves. She will be sharing helpful tips on what your postpartum nurse wants you to know about your post-delivery experience. The purpose of this post is to educate you and give you confidence about what to expect during your postpartum hospital stay.

Love to all you Fearless Mamas,

Elizabeth

What Your Postpartum Nurse Wants You To Know

What Your Postpartum Nurse Wants You To Know

What to Expect During Your Postpartum Hospital Stay

A Postpartum Nurse’s Perspective

By Allison Clark, R.N.

Hello beautiful mommas! My name is Allison Clark and I have been a postpartum nurse for 11 months and I recently transitioned to labor and delivery.

Before starting my first job as a nurse in postpartum I had no idea what this experience included. I haven’t had any children yet and I had about 1 day of clinical in postpartum during nursing school.

The postpartum experience surprised me and made me realize just how much having a baby changes your life. There are many things I didn’t know (and new moms don’t know) to expect while you’re recovering from birth in the hospital.

Here are 6 things I think are most helpful to know about your hospital stay, along with the reason why nurses and doctors do what they do after you have a baby.

What Your Postpartum Nurse Wants You To Know

1. Hemorrhage Prevention

Many people call this a uterine massage, but I like to put it in more serious terms. The reason the nurse will annoyingly rub your belly (uterus) every fifteen minutes for the two hours after your birth is to see if you are at risk for a postpartum hemorrhage.

Women are at risk for bleeding out after having a baby. The uterus is a large muscle and we need it to continue to contract after the placenta is delivered. Why? Well the placenta had blood vessels embedded into your uterus.

When the placenta detaches those vessels are wide open and bleeding. When your uterus contracts down or is massaged it firms up the uterus and helps to shut off those bleeding vessels. If you continue to bleed, we may give you medication to contract your uterus.

This is an important piece of postpartum recovery that must be done throughout your stay to ensure you’re going home safe and healthy enough to care for your newborn.

Also, let your nurse know if you had complications with your last pregnancy or bled a lot. This will further help us to help you!!

2. Tearing

This can be worse than the birth itself depending on how severe your tear is. Doctors offer c-sections to women who previously had 4th degree tears because the recovery can be so difficult and traumatic.

Please take this seriously. Be gentle with your body, whether you tore or not, because you just pushed a whole human out. Don’t lift heavy things. Take your time getting up.

Use the spray and witch hazel we give you! They soothe the area and the witch hazel keeps it clean to prevent infection.

Take pain medication. I know the newborn phase is difficult so take precautions to make this transition as easy as possible.

No one needs to be a super mom who can do everything. For your physical and mental health, ask for help and receive it gratefully.

3. The Sleepless Nights Start Here

I’m so sorry, but after having the baby you aren’t going to get much sleep. The first 24 hours is the worst because you and the baby need to be monitored more frequently.

The baby usually has vital signs, diaper output, and feeding checked every 4 hours. If you had a vaginal delivery you’ll only need to be checked every 8 hours, and if you had a C-Section you’ll be checked every 4 hours.

If you are on a high risk medication like magnesium sulfate for preeclampsia ( high blood pressure) you will be checked every hour.

Please understand this is for you and your baby’s health and safety. We want to catch any complications while you’re with us so you can go home healthy and ready to care for your newborn!

4. Jaundice

All babies are tested for jaundice before they go home. Your baby does not need to look like a highlighter to be at risk or have jaundice. I have seen babies with high jaundice levels who had normal colored skin.

Be aware that this condition can cause brain damage if untreated, so we take it seriously.

If your baby goes under the blue light…please leave them under there! Take them out to feed, change their diaper, and hold for about 10 minutes but put them right back.

The baby will cry, be fussy, and may seem “cold”. This is all caused by the fact that they aren’t swaddled up. Their “startle reflex” can be triggered easily and the baby’s arms will shake. This makes the baby cry or seem to shiver.

Understand that this is normal and the baby is monitored at least every 4 hours. I have never had a baby get cold under the blue light, despite being stripped down to the diaper.

Keep the room relatively warm and only take the baby out when needed. The longer your baby is left under the light, the sooner you get to go home!

5. Breastfeeding

Let me start out by saying this: breastfeeding is hard work. I don’t say that to discourage you. I say that to help you realize that if you choose to breastfeed it may not go as you plan, and that’s okay.

Adapt to your baby’s needs and know that the first two weeks will be challenging. I always tell moms that babies need practice breastfeeding too and it is a working partnership. Once you both get it down you’ll work together as a team and breastfeeding will be much easier.

Some babies latch on with no problem, but others need a little more help. I find that many moms come in with a preconceived idea about how to breastfeed and what it should look like.

Please let the nurse and lactation consultant guide you. We have had HOURS of training and know tips, tricks, and ways to save you from sore, cracked nipples.

Be open to holding your baby a different way while breastfeeding. Be okay with unlatching your baby and starting over if it continues to hurt throughout the feed. Know that your baby digests breast milk within 90 minutes and that is why they always want to eat and it isn’t because you aren’t making enough.

They also love to suck, and they will use you as a pacifier. These are all things mothers often don’t educate themselves on and I have seen it hurt their chances at breastfeeding because they haven’t mentally prepared themselves for adapting to their baby’s needs.

Take a course, be open to change, and know that a fed baby is a healthy one.

A fun trick:

If it hurts when your baby latches on, pull their chin down while they are latched on. This opens their mouth up and pulls your nipple to the back of their mouth, which is soft and hurts less.

What Your Postpartum Nurse Wants You To Know

6. C-Sections

I wanted to specifically go over this experience because there are so many things moms don’t expect to happen after a c-section. Yes, we still rub your bell and yes, you will have to stand up at least 12-18 hours after the surgery and walk around.

This is a good thing and helps with your recovery! The dressing is removed before you leave and we may even remove your stitches too! We need to make sure the incision site isn’t showing signs of infection and opening it to air prevents build up of warmth and moisture.

You might be nauseous or itchy from the Epidural medication given to you during the operation. Let your nurse know so we can give you medication to help these side effects.

Take the narcotic medications offered if you need them. You just had major surgery and pain management is important for recovery.

Again, take it easy, even if you feel great, but know that we aren’t going to let you lay in bed all day afterward. Moving helps prevent pain and gets you right on track for recovery!

A Few More Words of Advice

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or wake Dad up. They often want to help despite the fact that they are exhausted too.
  • Limit visitors. I know this is an exciting time but if you didn’t sleep all night, don’t plan for a bunch of visitors during the day. You will get burnt out fast. You’re trying to sleep, learn how to breastfeed, and take care of a newborn. Tell them to come by later, or visit you at home– even if it’s family. If you need us to, the nurse will happily kick everyone out for you so you can get some rest 🙂
  • Take advantage of the time after your baby’s first bath! They often go into a deep sleep after their bath for about 3-4 hours. They can go that long without eating, so catch some sleep!

What Your Postpartum Nurse Wants You To Know

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About Allison

My name is Allison Clark and I have been a nurse for 11 months. I started out in Postpartum and about two weeks ago I transitioned to labor and delivery. I love everything about caring for mothers and babies and I can’t imagine working in any other field!

While I don’t have any children of my own, this experience has opened my eyes and heart to what can happen when that time comes for me. My husband and I hope to have 2-3 children one day and are currently trying to start a family. I can’t wait to be included in the “mom club” one day!

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You Can Also Read:

10 Tips on Leaving the Hospital with Your Newborn

10 Postpartum Facts You Should Know

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