~ Getting ready for admission ~
Being admitted to the hospital may bring some anxiousness for you and your family. Prepare yourself as well as possible by reading about maternity care and following the advice of your doctor or midwife, so that you are not faced with any surprises.
At least a month before your due date, you should start making preparations for your admission to the hospital. You want your admission process on the Big Day to go as smoothly and as quickly as possible. For pre-admission registration, your physician will provide you with your admission letter and estimated due-date. If you have health insurance you should take this letter to your insurance agency, which will then issue a Guarantee Letter authorizing coverage of your hospital admission. With these papers in hand, you then visit our Admissions Department. All your information will be inputted in the hospital administration system. If you have limited or no insurance coverage, you will be informed how to settle your financial responsibility before your admission date.
Dependent on the conditions set forth by your insurance provider, you will be staying in a private, semi-private or open-ward room. You can, however, make an additional payment to upgrade your accommodations if available. Private rooms are assigned on a first-come first-served basis. Your partner or a support person is allowed to sleep in with you on a bed if you have a private room.
You can choose to have a form of pain management during your labour and delivery. Pain management includes epidurals and breathing techniques. If you are interested in this, it is encouraged that you discuss your pain management plan with your obstetrician/midwife.
Packing for your hospital stay
You should have all the things you’ll need for yourself and your baby packed and ready to go at least four weeks in advance. For those seeking a quick solution, a maternity pack, containing some necessities for mother and baby, is available for purchase at the Cay Hill Pharmacy located on the premises of Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC). (See full list on page 2)
~ Arrival at the hospital ~
When you think the time has come to have your baby, call your doctor before you leave home. Remove all jewellery and other valuables before leaving or give them to a family member to take home. Report at the Emergency Department hospital entrance, where you can check in at the ER Admissions Desk. The admitting clerk will verify your information, and the emergency doctor may physically check you to see how far your labour has progressed. They will then contact your midwife or gynaecologist. The OBGYN nurse will guide you to the ward or labour room. If needed, expect a quick ride in a wheelchair to the labour or delivery room! If you have not yet progressed that far, your Maternity Ward Room will be your first stop where the nurses will welcome you and check you in. After the nursing assessments, your midwife or specialist will be notified by the Registered Nurse.
Delivery of your baby can take place in the following ways:
- Natural childbirth
- Assisted childbirth (epidural) and induced labour
You may have up to two support persons with you during labour and delivery. However, it is recommended they alternate their visits during this time. Your doctor and midwife will want space to provide you and the baby with the best possible care. Your support persons will be the only ones allowed to stay with you. It is suggested your support person report to one supportive member of your family who can then update other relatives and friends who are anxiously waiting for news.
~ Post-delivery care ~
After delivery, your baby will be taken to the nursery for weighing in and post-delivery care. If, however, the obstetrician or the paediatrician determines there is medical need, your baby may be transferred to the High Care Neonatal Unit on the Paediatric Ward. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is well equipped to care for up to six new-borns that may be premature or may need special observation or intensive care. While your baby is in the nursery or NICU, your mobile phone must be turned off or on silent. To reduce the spread of disease, you must always wash your hands before entering the nursery or NICU and always before attending to your baby. The NICU RN will update you on how to dress upon entering the NICU.
Once it is determined that your baby has no medical complications, your baby will be brought to your room. Rooming-in, where your new-born baby remains at your bedside, fosters the development of parent-child bonding. This also enables you to get familiar with your baby’s routine as you help take care of your baby. The nurses will teach and guide you on baby’s care. For safety reasons, your baby will be placed in the baby room during visiting hours.
After visiting hours, your baby will be brought to you. Breast feeding will be initiated within the first hour after birth. As SMMC is a breastfeeding institution, it promotes breastfeeding, encouraging mothers to breastfeed. You will get instructions on how to breastfeed and why breast is best. Mothers who choose not to breastfeed will be assisted with bottled milk.
You will be instructed in feeding, burping, handling and changing of the new-born. When you change diapers and feed the baby, report this to the nursing personnel so that this too can be recorded. The baby should never be left unattended in the room and should not be in bed with you while you are sleeping. Any concerns or questions you may have can be directed to the nurse.
~ Feeding your baby ~
Depending on your baby’s condition, the paediatrician or nursing staff can recommend feeding every two to three hours. Breastfeeding is especially beneficial if your baby is sick or small. The practice of “rooming in” is very conducive to breastfeeding.
If you choose to bottle feed, the nursing staff will assist you and provide information on preparing and giving the baby formula in a hygienic manner. Whatever your feeding choice, the nurses and midwives will help and support you.
Bathing, weight and length
Your baby will enjoy a refreshing bath every morning, but this can also be done at a different time to accommodate both parents being present. The midwives and nurses will teach both parents how to care for your baby.
Baby’s length is usually measured at birth. Your baby will be weighed daily, usually during the bath routine. Expect your baby to lose 10% of his/her birth weight within the first five days of life; after which it should continue to grow.
As parents, you want to know how your baby is developing. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor to explain anything you do not understand about your baby's care or progress.
~ Length of stay ~
Your expected length of stay after a normal birth is one to two days; with a Caesarean, it may take three to five days. If you or your baby experiences any complications, your stay may be extended. Earlier discharge is only recommended at the discretion of the attending obstetrician and/or paediatrician.
Fathers: You have the opportunity to remain after visiting hours for bonding time with your baby. You are welcome to come in the early mornings for instructions along with Mom on how to bathe and care for your baby. Make an appointment with the nursing team leader or the Ward Supervisor.
Children: For the protection of the new-born, the new baby’s brothers and sisters are the only children less than 12 years of age allowed to visit the ward under parental supervision.
~ Going home (discharge and follow-up care) ~
When you are discharged, you will receive instructions to prepare you for home and when your follow-up visit is scheduled with your specialist. If you have valid insurance, the nurse will give you the okay to leave. If you are responsible for your own hospital bills (no insurance coverage), the nurse on duty will direct you to the Admissions and Discharge Department on the morning of your discharge. After this process is completed, the admissions clerk will give you a discharge pass which you will take to the nursing office.
At discharge, the nurse will provide you with any medication prescription made by your doctor, your baby’s birth documents, as well as any appointments recommended as follow-up care. At this stage, you are ready to leave, which will be around 11:00am.
SMMC wishes you and your family much happiness with the arrival of your new baby.