Where danger signs to the health of a newborn or new mom are concerned, forewarned is forearmed.
Counseling a new mama in depth at the time of discharge from the hospital, therefore, is paramount.
Beyond certain newborn care basics, giving information about signs of infection, or, say, postpartum depression is not a norm in India. Moreover, all hospital staff may not be open about discussing all these issues. Yet, before discharge, you must be alerted to recognizing all possible signs of danger to your new born baby, and post-natal trauma in yourself.
Counseling at Discharge: Baby Care
Being counseled on danger signs in a newborn baby and how to identify or prevent them can go a long way towards minimizing scares and sparing new parents avoidable stress.
- Discuss with the discharge counselor about illnesses and infections you must keep an eye out for.
- Ask if they have a pictorial card you can keep over the long term, representing all the baby care instructions in a very visual format. These cards have a lot of pictures depicting how a baby is to be fed, burped or put to sleep.
- In new borns, loss of fluids is a serious concern. You must receive information about how to spot dehydration in your infant, as well as what to do in case of a bout of diarrhea or vomiting.
- Newborns are unable to turn by themselves yet, so they must never be put in a crib where there is a risk of sheets falling on them and suffocating them.
- A chart showing their expected growth over time is helpful to have, and the counsellor must tell you what to do if you notice a serious discrepancy in your baby’s growth pattern.
- You should receive an immunization chart. The counsellor must tell you when you need to bring your baby in for the first set of vaccinations.
Counseling at discharge: Mother Care
Caring for the baby after going home is just one half of the equation. You need to look after yourself too!
- Make a note of when you are expected to come back for a check-up, and what you need to bring with you.
- If you have had a Caesarian or C-section, you will need to know and follow a specific set of precautions to prevent your stitches from splitting or being infected. You should also ask about the side-effects of a C-section, years later.
- If you have had an episiotomy, your gynecologist should advise you on caring for the perineal area until the stitches heal.
- Some women have trouble with defecation post childbirth, or they may suffer from urinary incontinence. Ask your doctor how you can cope with these issues.
- Pregnancy and childbirth are a time of severe mood swings, and most women experience a mild form of depression for a few weeks, called the baby blues. However, if the symptoms of depression get worse or don’t get better in a few weeks, you may be suffering from post-partum depression.  This is a very real medical outcome of pregnancy that you should not feel guilty about or try to over-manage. Seeking professional aid for post-partum depression can go a long way in feeling better.
- Some mothers also experience a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, particularly if they’ve had a traumatic birth experience.
However, this isn’t all that pre-discharge counselling ideally covers. Read about sex and intimacy after delivery and family planning methods.
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