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How Nurses Build Confidence in New Mothers

In the days after childbirth, first-time mothers look to nurses in the maternity ward to teach them how to handle their newborns. Learn how you can help.

In the days after childbirth, first-time mothers look to the RNs in the maternity ward to teach them how to handle their newborns. Postpartum nursing is a specialty that provides the invaluable service of making women into mothers. The nurses and their new moms share just a few days together, and during that time, the mothers will learn to breastfeed, hold, and comfort their newborns.

Breastfeeding, although a natural function, seems anything but natural to most new mothers. The baby has to be taught to latch on, and the mother needs to recognize the sensation of the “let down” of milk. Usually, a breastfeeding specialist works with the maternity team, but the ward nurses often have to encourage mothers to help them succeed.

Maternity ward RNs establish the newborn’s earliest routine while the mother recovers from delivery and begins to learn what her baby needs. For example, the nurse will communicate feeding plans with patients every night to establish whether the mother wants to breastfeed in the morning, bottle feed the baby, or have the nurse do the bottle feeding.

The nurse will detail the newborn’s sleeping and eating habits and monitor all the baby’s health signs. She will also monitor the mother’s progress and emotional state and educate the new parents to prepare them for bringing the baby home.

Most of maternity nursing is instinct; reading how each new mother feels and responding with the kind of support she will need to get through this transition. The early days in the maternity ward will set the stage for how the mother copes with her baby in the months to come at home. Of course, she will be alone through much of that, wondering with each new development what to do. But for now, she has you.

Maternity nurses answer all the questions no one knew to ask until the baby came along: Why is the milk clear? How do we get the baby to latch on? What if she doesn’t? Will circumcision hurt? Should I pick him up every time he cries? How do I take care of my baby when I’m too tired to take care of myself?

Some maternity RNs work in the homes of families with newborns for a few days or weeks after the baby leaves the hospital. These kinds of assignments usually require 24-hour coverage for 5 to 6 days a week to help with the adjustment.

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