What Happens After Delivery? Your Stay in the Mother/Baby Unit
You just survived nine months of pregnancy – the swollen ankles, stretching belly, and poor sleep; then came the wild and crazy delivery of your baby. Now what happens? Well, it depends on the health of your newborn baby and the facility where you delivered, but generally, you will be moved to a mother/baby (postpartum) unit.
What is a postpartum unit?
A postpartum unit is a place in the hospital where new mothers and babies go to recover from delivery and prepare to make the transition home. Your baby will stay with you the entire time – just as he would at home – but you won’t have to care for your newborn alone. Being in the postpartum unit is a sort of trial run; you get to be involved in your baby’s care but not left without knowledgeable support. Each family is assigned to a nurse, and each nurse looks after several families during her shift.
Your nurse will help you care for yourself while you recoup and can assist with giving medication, taking vital signs, taking baths and using the bathroom, and walking. She will also provide care for your baby such as changing diapers, giving him a bath, checking vital signs, and coordinating any routine tests. If your baby requires special care that cannot be given in your hospital room, he will be moved to a special care nursery or NICU.
What will I do in the postpartum unit?
In the mother/baby unit, you have time to rest and heal. Delivering a baby is no easy task! At first, there will be lots of follow-up examinations by your doctors. Your body undergoes numerous changes after birth, and he/she will guide you through them. In the postpartum unit, it’s wise to spend time learning all you can about caring for your new little baby – such as breastfeeding, how to change and bathe your baby, and car seat safety – so that you can feel confident when you leave the hospital. Utilize this opportunity to hold and snuggle him and just bond. When you feel ready, ask your nurse if you can push your baby in his bassinet around the postpartum unit. Unless there are complications, mothers and babies should expect to stay in the hospital 24-48 hours after delivery.
Why is it so important to keep mothers and babies together after birth?
If your baby is healthy and strong following delivery, you can expect him to remain by your side nearly every minute in the mother/baby unit. It is ideal for mothers and babies to stay together. Some of the benefits include:
- Calmer, happier babies
- Increased milk production and success with breastfeeding
- Baby’s needs are met as soon as possible
- Better sleep for baby and mother
- Bonding between mother and baby
- Mothers gain greater confidence in caring for baby
- More skin-to-skin contact
Your time in the postpartum unit should be filled with rest, support, and learning. The nurses are there to help you and show you how to care for your new little baby so that you can feel confident when you return home from the hospital. From pregnancy to delivery to recovery; now the real fun begins.
What was your experience in the mother/baby unit? Share your story in the comments!