We are finalising our guide for dads/partners and I'd like to include a section on how to help a mum to manage while in hospital. Can you help with your practical tips such as things to do together, what to bring in, how to handle visitors etc?
What things helped you most when in h... - Action on Postpar...
There's lots I can think of, here's a few just to get started:
- Helping me settle in & organise my things in my room so I knew where everything was & reminding me (a lot!) where they were.
- Helping me find my way round & taking me to the day room so I was confident going there again on my own.
- Bringing in bits of my make-up – it was important to me in the early days to try & resemble some sort of normality.
- Bringing in food that I liked that was easy to store & eat whenever I wanted to. Early on I forgot to eat & wasn't confident enough to go out of my room to collect meals from the communal area.
- Making sure my menu card was filled out each day with the menu choices he knew I’d like.
- Bringing in clean clothes, sorting the laundry, bringing in nice soap, shampoo etc.
- Bringing a notebook & pens (for my manic scribblings, I guess it helped to get it all down).
- Bringing in puzzle books & sudoku - I couldn't follow TV programs at all but stood a bit better chance with puzzles & it was a kind of way to put some order to my my thoughts.
- Keeping me up to date with the outside world – my husband & mum were my only visitors so it was good to know who’d called, sent wishes, what it was like at home etc.
- Explaining to me who everyone was & what they were responsible for – there were so many new faces in & out it was really hard to remember their names/jobs etc.
- Something the midwives suggested to bring in was something colourful, personal & easy to remember to leave in my son's cot (so I'd easily recognise him). My hubby chose a baby's England cap - I guess the footie was on
The main one for me though was him just being there to explain things that I was confused or worried about – he was the one I could trust & he’d often soothe my terrible anxieties at the end of each day, he was my ally.
Good points Andrea, you hit my wife's main ones as well.
We kept visitors to the absolute minimum in the early weeks, essentially only me and my wife's brother, for the very same reasons given in your last paragraph; couldn't say it any better
The only addition, in the first few days, at my wife's request, was our wedding photos, so she could try and remind herself that we were married and of the celebrations. Also a small album put together of our new baby in the first 4 weeks prior to going into the MBU.
I think Andrea has covered almost all my points too!
I think it's important for husbands (or whoever is making that first journey to admit mum & baby to the unit) to know that MBUs are wierd, and sometimes frightening places. But they are the best places for recovery, and your wife and baby will be safe there. So plaster on a reassuring smile and tell your wife it's ok, she's safe here, even if every fibre of your being is telling you to take your family and run for the hills!
I was so confused my first few weeks so all the points by Andrea on helping the mum settle in wouldve been invaluable. Especially simple stuff like trying to keep the mess in my tiny room under control. For weeks I had a pile of ambulance blankets festering at the foot of my bed. And I was CONSTANTLY worried about baby's lack of clothes/nappies/formula etc etc!
But I wholeheartedly agree with the point that just showing up is crucial. My husband's daily visits were so important to me, even if I didn't know it at the time... So try to make yourself feel at home there, when you visit, and forget about all the strange things and wierd environment all around you, and try to enjoy a few moments of new parenthood together with your baby! Kx
I guess I would just reiterate what others had said. My partner visiting and all he did for me was INVALUABLE. I would say to dad's that even when you are completely out of it, and perhaps it may seem that your partner isn't noticing or appreciative of what you're doing, it does go in and it will be remembered. I remember he bought me some slippers, with a pink bow, like ones I would have chosen, perfect for me. I put them on in the middle of psychosis and thought they were too small and didn't want to wear them. When I came round from psychosis and I saw the slippers, the dressing gown, everything he'd bought for me I felt surrounded by love and I can't emphasise how much that meant.
Being there, asking me if I needed any shopping, willing to buy things like sanitary towels telling me he loved me after I hadn't answered his phone calls for 2 days and went into a depression...
Wow, thank you all
It's great to have really practical tips for dads as to how to make the very disorientating experience of hospital more human. I am so encouraged by the way that small gestures can convey a huge amount of love and support. Thank you all for sharing such well thought through tips. When the guide is printed and available for dads to take away from MBU's or to download from our website I know it will be a huge help at that moment when life is turned 'upside down'
Sorry I'm a bit late adding to this. I would just reiterate what others have said really. My husband was on paternity leave while I was in the MBU and him just being there meant the world. My mum also brought in all the new baby cards so I could have them on my window ledge. I read them quite a few times! I also found a notebook really useful. The MBU kept their own records of feeds/changes, which I would fill in, but it helped me to write them in my own book and also be able to jot down anything I was worried about to ask the HV or my Psychiatrist.
One thing my husband and I would do was go into the lounge and have a cup of tea together. I love my tea and just doing something so normal made me feel much more settled. It also gave us both a chance to chat to the staff and other patients.
Thanks for these really practical tips. It's a lovely idea to have the new baby cards in hospital with you as it is a great reminder of all the family and friends who love you so much, and a point of connection with that joy of having a new baby which it can be so hard to feel when you are in the middle of PP.
And yes - cups of tea! Where would we be without that great British tradition of a cuppa and a chat - you are right that bit of freedom in hospital to boil the kettle and make your own cup of tea brings a welcome taste of 'normality'.
Great suggestions, thank you Jo