I was talking to my friend last week and she mentioned a call from her home-health nurse. I was confused. My friend’s baby (a 34 week preemie) is 3 months old. Did the baby still have a home-health nurse like Jax did when he was small?
“No,” she said, “the nurse was calling to see how I was doing! Didn’t you have a nurse follow-up with you after Jax was born?”
Ummm…no? And then I realized, I never had a follow-up exam after Jax was born. I never took a postpartum depression survey. I never got a follow-up call from anyone checking to see how I was doing.
I slipped through the cracks.
Wait a second! Not only did I miss out on my entire third trimester and a “normal” birth and newborn experience, I also missed out on the basic follow-up care every new mom deserves!
I needed that follow-up care more than most moms, I think. As a first-time mom with an extremely premature baby, I was at an extraordinarily high risk for postpartum depression and other issues.
It’s easy to forget to take care of your self when you have a tiny newborn that is very sick and in the hospital. And logistically, it’s difficult to get postnatal care when you’re spending all your extra time in a NICU, especially if that NICU is hours away from home.
And then, it dawned on me – I actually got some of the best postpartum care I could have ever asked for! It just looked a little different than the “normal” care that most women get.
- Jax’s bedside nurses were doing more than just taking care of Jax. They were also keeping an eye on me for symptoms of postpartum depression and PTSD.
- I had access to the hospital Social Worker. I delivered far away from home – I was scared and in a strange place. The social worker sat with me and talked with me and helped me process everything that had happened.
- Lactation Consultants gave me three months of on-demand breastfeeding / pumping support. They gave me information about nutrition and rest that helped my body heal from delivery. They gave me tips and tricks to help with pumping breast milk for my premature baby in the NICU.
- The Chaplain often dropped by to talk about “things.” I am not a traditionally religious person, so I was uncomfortable with this at first. But together we quickly discovered that my “religion” was nature and she helped me channel the outdoors even when I was cooped up in a hospital room all day.
- Financial Services helped me navigate the tricky waters of being able to afford our million-dollar baby and helped put me in touch with resources that could help ease our burden and lessen our stress levels so we could focus on our son.
There was so much support available to help me recover after delivering my preemie. I’m grateful that Jax’s NICU care team was there to also help take care of me!
NICU and preemie moms, what type of follow-up care did you receive? What are some tips for getting follow-up care after the birth of a small or sick baby?