Some notes about things we wish the antenatal classes would have told us that we’d find useful in Holles Street when Calum was being born…
- Pump-action spray bottle filled with filtered water. Used on mom during the birth if she got too hot, and on her calves which were constantly itchy because of the hormones, and on dad’s face and mom’s face in the delivery ward after the birth because the hospital air is so dry, and when filled with warm water, on baby’s backside for changing time. Nice multitasker. Bought mine in the cooking section of hsw.ie of all places, but they sell them in lots of places and on ebay, and they should be quite cheap. Get a smallish one though, no point bringing a litre sized thing when you only want about 200ml at most.
- Neurofen/Panadol/Hedex/whatever for dad. You’re not the patient, so the hospital can’t give you any form of pain meds, and these are just for you – mommy shouldn’t take your neurofen because they need to know what she’s on. Have them in the ward bag anyway – on the day after the birth you’re likely to have a monster headache because of the stress, and because you probably didn’t eat and drink properly the day before And since all you want to do is focus on baby’s face a few inches from yours, the headache’s a bummer and chemicals are your friend…
- Slippers for both mom and dad. Everyone tells mom to bring slippers for the ward because the floor is cold – that’s not why you really bring them though. You really bring slippers because it’s a hospital and they’re careful, but there’s still a risk of sharps on the floor. And since dad shouldn’t walk in off the street and put boots on the bed while sitting in the chair holding baby (because what if you put him on the bed afterwards to change him or check the nappy or whatever – you’ve no idea what you’ve walked through…), having slippers for wearing just in the ward is useful.
- A pillow for daddy’s chair. You’re going to be sitting in a fairly uncomfortable chair for most of the day in the ward – and that can mean twelve hours or more – and the last thing you need is back pain as a result. So bring a pillow or a cushion or something.
- Hand sanitiser. It’s not paranoia. Swab your own hands right now and you’d find a disturbing amount of E.Coli and Group B strep bacteria on them (and you thought you’d washed your hands last time you went to the bathroom…). Your system can cope with it; a newborn’s can’t and it can cause neonatal meningitis, so before any visitors (or you) pick up baby, use the hand sanitiser. Keep it by the bed – Holles St. has alcohol sanitisers all over the place, but some people will walk right past them and up to the bed, so it’s handy to have one right there. And they don’t have to be large, the Carex 50ml ones are tiny. You can even get nonalcoholic and hypoallergenic ones if you need them.
- A small bag inside your ward bag. We bought a mothercare set of baby lotions that came in its own zippered case with a handle; we left the lotions in the bathroom at home and used the case in the ward bag. It’s handy to keep the little things like lip balm and such together in the delivery room bag too, but it really shines after the birth when you put all the nappy-changing stuff into it, and when you have to change baby, you just grab that and take him down the hall to the changing room, instead of trying to juggle him, nappy bags, nappies, vaseline, spray bottle and so on. A nappy changing bag would be overkill, you just want a small valise.
- Smartphone. Camera, phone, MP3 player, radio, all in one device. Also:
- Facebook app. Gets photos up and family off your back quickly and lets you deal with hospital stuff faster than calling the few people you have time to call and then having the ”Why did you call X and not me???” conversations with others.
- Contraction timer apps. Utterly useless to us in the end, I’m afraid, but your milage may vary…
- BabyESP (EatSleepPoop) app. Used it to track feeding times and nappy changes in the hospital, using it still. Lets you sync a single baby’s data over multiple devices which is handy. Android only though it seems. But there are many apps like this on every platform. It sounds like overkill, but we’re finding it makes things a lot easier. And you can show hard data to the PHN if you’re worried about something.
- Podcasts and headphones. At a few points on the ward, mommy was sleeping and baby was sleeping on my chest and we’d be there for two or three hours at a stretch and you can’t move. Sometimes you’d blink and the time was over; other times, especially when I was tired, I stuck an earbud in one ear, left the other free to keep watch on the two of them and listened to the friday night comedy podcast, to material world, to IT conversations, to Science in Action, and so on.
- Robinsons barley water and a large water bottle. Mommy has to keep hydrated, and that stuff makes it a lot easier to chug pints of water. The water bottles sold for people taking protein shakes and the like by health food shops work really well for this.
- Along with the towels for mommy to shower with, bring another dark towel to change baby on. Holles St. has a changing room with changing units in it, but they don’t have mats on them (it’s a hard wooden surface) and they ask you to use your own towel rather than the blue towels they use for the cots and swaddling. You might also want to have your own bag of cotton wool balls – or even better, cotton pads like the ones Babykind make – because they keep them in the changing room but occasionally they run out and inevitably you’re there with everything laid out and prepped when you realise you’ve nothing to clean his bum with. And they’re kept in a cupboard down the hall, not in one in the changing room so you have to go find a nurse to get more if you don’t have your own stash.
- A small tub of Vaseline. You don’t put much on a newborn’s bum when changing them (you won’t need sudocream or anything else); but smear a layer of vaseline on every time you change him for the first week, or until the meconium is fully gone. That stuff is quite sticky, and better it stick to the vaseline than to baby’s skin.
- Men’s Pyjamas for mommy in dark colours, because they’re easy to doff for examinations or feeding, they’re more comfy than nightdresses and they have a pocket for things (btw, what idiot designs womens clothing so that mom’s clothing has no pockets when she needs to carry fifty things all the time?)
- Shirts for daddy, in soft cotton or flannel, with some sort of alternating high-contrast pattern (plaid. Yay.) which open with buttons in front like normal. Babys calm fast when they hear a heartbeat, so open your shirt, lose the 1970s medallion, put his ear over your heart and trade dignity for peace and quiet
- The hoover. We brought baby home on the first day and he went nuts. Wouldn’t settle, wouldn’t stop crying any time we stopped talking to him. We finally figured out (we were a bit slow on the uptake with this one) that he’d had nine months in the womb where it’s really noisy; then birth which is very noisy; then three days on the delivery ward which goes from really loud and noisy to kindof relaxed but still with background noises; to the car ride home which was noisy; to the living room and silence. Poor thing must have though he’d suddenly gone deaf. Turned on the hoover and just left it run, it calmed him right down (still does, two weeks in, and still works for daddy, 35 years in). After an hour of that, we managed to wean him onto the radio, and over the last few days, he’s gotten more and more used to the quiet. But the hoover earned its wages that first day
- Takeaway menus. Seriously, by the end of the day we came home, we were so tired we couldn’t even face the effort of microwaving something to eat, so we just ordered pizza. I seriously wouldn’t recommend it as a habit though
2012-04-07 » Mark Dennehy