Get the care you deserve in the maternity ward By Diana Dionisio-Pieczynski
It's amazing what moms can do. While in the hospital recovering from delivering my third child via C-section, I realized that, as a veteran of this pain and wonder, my observations might be helpful to other moms-to-be. For example, did you know the nurses refer to the nursery (at least at night) as the "baby jail?"
Here's another interesting tidbit: There are three nursing shifts-day, evening and overnight. That's why you have so many different people coming in and out of your room so fast that you don't have time to even note their names.
I put thoughts to paper before the amnesia of motherhood (and endless feedings) wiped away my brain. Below are 10 tips to help moms-to-be be a good patient and get the care they deserve:
1 Note the nurse's names. This seems obvious, but it's not. Bring a pen and paper with you to the hospital. You might have someone amazing; I was lucky enough to have several. Or you may have Nurse Ratchett. In either case, you'll want to jot it down.
2 Request specific nurses. If you find a nurse or nurse's aide you like and trust, hold onto her. Ask how many days she'll be working, who else on staff is like her and then request those nurses. Unfortunately, I didn't learn this until the end of my five-days. But I did find out in time to get one of the best nurses I ever had (thanks, Michelle) and didn't have to spend another minute with the wooden nurse who looked at me blankly when I asked, "Gee, should this incision be bleeding?"
3 Know your rights. This is particularly important regarding your meds. I found that different nurses had different ideas of what "every three to four hours" meant. Some understood that layering real drugs with Motrin helped. Others had me howling as I waited for my next fix. If you have an unsympathetic nurse, ask to speak with the head nurse to get things straightened out.
4 Be assertive. If you want to be a nursing mom, make sure you can be. This was my third time, remember, and when my milk comes in, I can feed a small village. It is, therefore, very irritating when a nurse says, "Gee, I think he's hungry. I don't think you're giving him enough. We can just give him a bottle if you want." After a visit from my lactation consultant (thanks, Sue), I was able to say: "Take a look at his poopy-pee-pee log. He's supposed to ‘make' about two times a day. Today he's had 10! I think he's fine." Then give them a hard stare. That usually works.
5 Be judicious with the button. Try to be low maintenance. During my stay, the hospital was full-as full as the moon, which explains why it was so full. So I understood the nurses were very busy. If I could grunt and maneuver my way into a comfortable position, I would. But if I really needed help getting in a position to nurse, I was willing to push that little call button to make it happen. You don't want to be the patient whose light is always on, but you do want to have your needs met.
6 Ask for what you need. Hospitals allot every baby so many diapers, wipes, etc. They give you more only if the baby needs them. I had one not-so-helpful nurse who declined my request for more wipes. I looked at her blankly. If my baby pooped, what was I supposed to do? Start using the linens? Luckily, the shift changed before Alex pooped.
7 Take care of yourself. Turn off your phone and limit your visitors. You've just been through the most life-altering event of your life. If you feel like chatting-dial away. Keep the calls coming FROM you, not AT you.
8 Bribe the staff. Small gifts go far-bubble gum or chocolate cigars should do the trick. I would usually say, "Gee, I know I won't have time to say thank you to everyone, so I'm saying thank you as I meet you." It ensures good service (one hopes) and puts the nurse in a positive frame of mind. Again, one hopes.
9 Give kudos. You know those little sheets of paper that say, "Your thoughts please." Take five minutes to fill it out and list your favorite nurses by name and shift. I made sure that one nurse got lots of good publicity by calling in the nurse supervisor and telling her how wonderful Tina, and several others, were. I even had Tina sign Alex's baby book, so indebted to her was I for her overnight care and wisdom. Related to No. 8, but distinctly different, is to give the truly fabulous nurses a lovely parting gift. I made my husband go to Fannie May and get some wonderful somethings for these special folks. You would tip your concierge at a good hotel, right? Why wouldn't you do something special for the people who assisted you through the most important journey of your life?
10 Savor your time with this child. This is especially important if you have kids at home. Before the distractions of everyday living suck you back into reality, now is the time to enjoy your baby in the "love cocoon" of the hospital. They bring you meds, food and a clean baby for nursing. You won't get that at home.
Diana Dionisio-Pieczynski is the mother of three boys and lives in LaGrange.