I'm a big fan of giving birth in a hospital, and not just because I'm also a big fan of epidurals. (BEST.) Like many others, I felt fortunate to experience labor and childbirth surrounded by a team of skilled and caring professionals rather than, like, in the back of a covered wagon coming across the prairie, but another major plus in the hospital-birth experience for me was the postpartum support I received from the staff during those intense first hours and days with a newborn.
I had two long but relatively uncomplicated childbirth experiences, and even though I was high as a kite on endorphins for a good stretch of time and had the help of a rockstar partner, my body and brain had still just gone through a Major Ordeal and, to put it nicely, I didn't really have any idea what I was doing with a baby. It was reassuring to have a nurse come in now and then to not only give me a pain pill and a stool softener but to also suggest that, hey, my baby might need a new diaper, and would I like to do it myself or should she be granted the honor? I know not everyone is so lucky, but I had wonderful nurses during my hospital stays and was more than happy to take advantage of their help and advice on everything from swaddling to breastfeeding. Plus, they let us keep a bottle of champagne in their fridge, which was awful nice of them.
Staying at the hospital when you've just had a baby shouldn't really be compared to spending a few days at a resort spa, but...it sorta kinda can be like that, in its way, especially if you can focus on the lay-in-bed-all-day part and ignore the whole cafeteria food situation. When it came time for us to leave the hospital after my first son was born, I was honestly sad to leave. Taking care of a baby is so much easier when you can push a button and an expert will appear at your door in thirty seconds flat. Plus: free diapers.
Hospital experiences vary wildly, as do labor and birth experiences themselves, and I imagine that has a lot to do with how long people stay in the hospital once the baby is born. I have friends whose babies were in the NICU for days, weeks, or even months and couldn't wait to get home because it was a sign their little one had become healthy enough to do so. It was the same with mothers who needed some extra medical attention themselves; they just wanted to get home. When my second son was born, even I was out of the hospital after 24 hours, not because I wasn't enjoying the pampering of the nursing staff but because I had another kid out there I want to go home to.
If you had your baby in a hospital or birthing center, what was your postpartum experience like? How soon did you bring your baby home? Were you eager to get out of the hospital or did you wish you could have stayed just a little bit longer under the care of experts?
Photo © iStock.com/Mishatc