What All Birth Moms Should Know About the Hospital Stay


image c/o www.ucsfhealth.org

Some women spend eight months planning for adoption for their baby. Others don’t tell a soul they are pregnant. No matter what your pregnancy has been like or how long you’ve known about it, your labor and delivery experience will always be an integral part of your child’s adoption story – and you have the power to control what it will be like. Below are some decisions you may want to make before your hospital stay.

Who is going to be there with you? Some birth mothers want to be alone before, during, and after labor and delivery, especially if very few (or no) people know about their pregnancy. On the other hand, some birth moms with whom we’ve worked have had ten people in the room at all times! No matter how many people want to be there, you are the person who decides who can and can’t be. If your family or friends are against your adoption decision, then it will be up to you to either put your foot down about keeping them out or to be prepared to manage their emotions in addition to your own. Think about what you know about your family and friends and how you can best take care of yourself if they are around and have strong feelings about the outcome of this pregnancy. If you are the kind of person who needs to have a little bit of separation from others when you are emotional or who gets stressed out about having a lot of people tell you what to do, then you may need to put up a boundary and decide not to have any visitors. Our birth parent counselors have been in a lot of hospital rooms where family members were crying and telling the birth mother what they thought she should do, and in many of these cases, the birth mother ended up changing her mind about adoption and deciding to parent, because multiple family members had become attached to the baby. Changing your mind is absolutely okay; our point is that you should think carefully about how you will be feeling and who you will want to have supporting you during this difficult and emotional time.

How much contact will you have with your baby afterward? Again, it’s up to you. A lot of birth mothers decide not to see their baby after delivery because they are trying to protect their hearts; they know themselves and feel certain that if they do see their baby, it will be much more difficult to go through with the adoption plan. These birth mothers sometimes feel ashamed about not having any contact with their baby, and we urge them to remember that they know their own needs better than anyone else does and that they know best how to take care of themselves. We will say that the birth mothers who make the difficult choice to see and hold their baby after delivery tend to be better able to process the adoption later on, whereas those who do not get that time with their baby often find themselves with unanswered questions. Many times, the birth mothers who revoke their consent to adoption are the same ones who made the decision not to spend much or any time with their baby while in the hospital. In our experience, because these birth moms did not have the bittersweet experience of seeing, holding, feeding, and taking photos of their baby, they never had the opportunity to truly and completely face the reality of what was happening. In these cases, a birth mother’s unanswered questions and feelings can then become so overwhelming that she ends up changing her mind about the entire plan. That said, we have also worked with plenty of women who did not see their baby after delivery and did not revoke. Only you can figure out what will work best for you.

How will you name your baby? The baby will have to be named in the hospital, even if the adoptive family is going to legally change that name later on.  You will be asked about the name soon after delivery. If you do not want to name your baby, your adoption counselor can choose a name for you; if you do want to name him or her, you can pick a name you like, or a name that is meaningful to you, or the name of a family member. Pick whatever you want, but remember that the adoptive family may change this name later on. If you are thinking of using a name to which you are very much attached and you think you will feel hurt if it is changed, discuss this with your adoption counselor so that she can find out how the adoptive family is planning to go about naming the baby.

Find a middle ground. This hospital stay should be tailored to your needs. You don’t have to choose between ten visitors or no visitors – you can choose exactly who you want to have with you and when. You don’t have to choose between having no contact at all with your baby or having a huge amount of contact – you can choose to spend one or two hours with your baby or to simply look at your baby through the nursery window. And most importantly, you can always change your mind. If you decided beforehand to allow visitors but end up feeling overwhelmed, you can ask them to leave.If you decided not to see your baby but then realize you want to do so after all, you have every right to ask a nurse to bring your baby in to you or to go to the nursery to visit your baby. Keep your adoption counselor in the loop about how you are feeling and what you need, and she will work with hospital staff to make sure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the experience.

If you are planning for adoption and nearing your due date, let us know in the comments section what you think of these suggestions and what your own plans are! And if you made an adoption plan in the past, we’d love to learn more about what it was like for you. Did you have visitors and/or contact with your baby after delivery? How do you feel about those decisions now? 

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