Surviving hospital (just)

My favourite photo so far, understandably! Joe hotfooted it from school (excellent excuse to miss double Philosophy!) to be our first visitor, only an hour after his sisters made their grand entry. Would have been nice if he’d shaved, but there you go…

So, tenuous link to hospitals…The full hideousness of the birth story will follow, promise. Teensy tinsy problem in that we’re friends with the lady who manages women’s healthcare at Kings so want to download to her before I vent here…

In the meantime, I thought, given a few of you are expecting, a ‘how to just about survive hospital’ guide might help.

There are loads of lists out there about what to take, so this isn’t comprehensive, but things I found helpful were:

  • A handheld electric fan
  • Those little water sprays
  • Ice in a thermos, with a flannel
  • Straws (despite all requests to the contrary, you’re lying down a lot, and drinking from a cup or even bottle is tricky)
  • Dried fruit, cereal bars, rice cakes
  • Your own loo roll so you can avoid the nasty hospital paper stuff
  • Endless wet wipes
  • Pen and paper so you can write lists about lists for your partner
  • Your own Paracetamol in case the hospital ‘forgets’
  • A mirror, brush and some make up. Vain, moi? I didn’t have a mirror, the thought of walking to the bathroom was too daunting and, as a result, the post birth photos are being consigned to the bin…
  • I used a nightie from this company, which worked well. They’re made from bamboo jersey which is breathable and keeps you cool (hospitals are so HOT), button down the front which is handy for afterwards and they’re in dark colours, so you don’t have to wander round the hospital looking like you’ve been ten rounds with Freddie Krueger.

Oh, and cheese 😉 Jon put together an amazing picnic for me of all the things I hadn’t been able to eat or drink. Surprisingly enough, foie gras on crackers beats hospital lasagne!

So that covers ‘stuff’. In terms of coping strategies:

Something happens in hospital. No matter who you are, it’s hard not to feel intimidated. These guys are experts, yes? They know what’s best, right? Er, not necessarily.

Take loads of copies of your birth plan and make sure everyone reads it. If they question anything, point out your consultant has agreed it (which means getting your consultant to agree it beforehand, maybe sign it).

In the nicest possible way, stand up for yourself and, to be honest, that is a far more important job for your birth partner than massaging you (would you massage someone having a heart attack? No) or asking for the tenth time if you’re OK (NO! I’m bl**dy not!)

On both a practical and emotional level it really helped to know Jon had my back. I was hyper contracting, had been forgotten, had no painkillers and he stood by Reception and simply refused to leave or shut up till someone came.

Then the opposite – in recovery when we had different people coming in every 5 minutes and I hadn’t slept for 48 hours by that point, he sat outside the door and blocked all entry.

We sound like a nightmare don’t we?! And I’m sure my NHS cousins are appalled…but keep reminding yourself that, when it comes to your own body, you’re often far more of an expert than them.

In recovery, don’t be a hero. Especially if you’ve had a CS. I knackered myself trying to pick the twins up, cope alone during the nights etc when really I shouldn’t have been moving. Use that buzzer to get someone to come and help with the lifting and also for those first few feeds. It’s important you get them right otherwise you get the dreaded cracking which is difficult to reverse.

Limit visits, and keep them brief. They’re surprisingly tiring and you also don’t want feeding patterns disturbed, lovely as it is to show off the new arrivals – you’ve got plenty of time for that later.

Hope this helps. So, to end with a gratuitous and completely unconnected pic of the girls ‘enjoying’ bathtime.


They usually seem to like it apart from when Joe’s there, at which point they scream their little pink heads off in a successful attempt to dissuade him from ever helping…Note the handy bath seats – solves the problem of how to bathe two babies with the same number of hands!

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