Leaving The Hospital
Bringing your baby home from the hospital is a wonderful occasion. You can leave the hospital behind and enjoy looking after your baby in the comfort of your own home. Here's how to be prepared:
Although your baby's homecoming will have you filled with excitement, it can also be a little nerve wracking. At the hospital you have a medical support network, with doctors and midwives on hand to help you and your baby, if you experience any problems. If you have any health concerns for you or your baby, make sure you talk to the doctors and midwives before you leave the hospital. Similarly, if you are experiencing any health issues, seek help before you leave. There are several common postpartum health issues women suffer from after giving birth (see our article on Recovering from the birth) so make sure you have any medicine you need, including prescription painkillers, if you need them, before leaving. You can of course visit your doctor for any health concerns once you are home, but it makes the first few days at home easier if you already have any medication you need.
What About Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding can take a while to get used to; it's not as easy as it looks! Midwives are trained to give you help breastfeeding, so if this is how to want to feed your baby, ask a midwife to show you how to do it. Keep asking for help until you are confident you know how to breastfeed at home by yourself.
Is It Important to Keep Organised?
Make sure you are aware of when your baby's next check up should be, as well as when your next check up should be. Some premature babies will be given special equipment to take home with them, such as a breathing monitor.
What to Wear
Wear loose, comfortable clothing for the journey home. Even women who didn't put on much weight during pregnancy will still have trouble fitting into pre-pregnancy clothes shortly after the birth as the uterus takes up to 6 weeks to contract back to its normal, pre-pregnancy size. So don't be alarmed if you still have a sizeable tummy after giving birth, this is completely normal.
What Should Baby Wear on the Journey Home?
Many parents choose a special outfit for their baby's homecoming. Choosing a cute little outfit is fun, but remember to also choose something practical. Choose clothes that have soft fabrics, and avoid clothes with too much adornment or frilly bits that may not be comfortable against baby's sensitive skin.
Dress for the weather.
Many parents overdress their baby for the journey home. If it's hot when you have your baby, don't overdress your baby as young babies are prone to overheating. While your baby doesn't need a hat in warm weather, you may want to put a sunhat on your baby to protect your baby's skin from the sun. If it's cold outside, dress your baby in a snowsuit or fleece over their going home outfit. Remember that babies need one additional layer than adults, so consider what you're wearing and then dress baby accordingly. Newborn babies should wear hats for the journey home, except in hot weather. If you'll be getting into a car for the journey home, you will need to remove your baby's snowsuit or coat, as they may overheat in the car. Take a blanket along with you to put over your baby to keep them warm on the car journey home.
If you're bringing your baby home in your car, you'll need to have a car seat. Hospitals won't let you leave unless you have one of these, if you're driving home. To ensure your baby's safety on the journey home, you need to make sure it is properly fitted. The most common problem with car seats in not installing them properly, and a recent survey featured in The Guardian showed that 66% of car seats are incorrectly fitted. Some shops which sell car seats also fit them for you. Car seats come in different shapes and sizes for different aged babies, so make sure you buy one designed for newborns. These are rear-facing car seats, which fit babies better than convertible seats that are more suitable for toddlers and older children. Never fit a rear-facing car seat on the front passenger seat, as cars which have airbags fitted will smother your baby if they open. Even if your car doesn't have an airbag, the passenger seat is the place in the car where most damage occurs in the event of an accident, so your baby is safer in the back of the car.
Second hand car seats aren't recommended as they may have been in an accident. Even if the car seat looks brand new, if it has been in an accident the structure of the car seat may have been weakened, leaving your baby vulnerable to injury if your car is involved in an accident.
Looking After Yourself
Once you're home, focus on recovering after the birth and caring for your baby. Don't be rushed into having visitors you're not ready for (see our article on dealing with visitors), and make sure you ask for help. Remember that your body has been through the gruelling process of childbirth, so leave the housework and other non-essential tasks. Your priorities are you and your baby, everything else can wait (or be done by obliging friends or family!).