Baby In Zurich: The First Week
Our Week In The Hospital
The first week of our baby boy Liam’s life was spent at the hospital. Liam was born on a Sunday and we stayed in the hospital until Thursday. We spent Thursday night back in the hospital diagnosing my mastitis and getting medication. Friday was spent finally back at home with our first midwife visit. Then on the weekend my parents came for a visit all the way from the west coast of the USA.
Even after his easy and fast birth (here’s our birth story), the hospital wanted us to stay the typical five days in the hospital to recover. At first I kept asking the midwives and doctor when I could leave. They all said Thursday. I thought that was strange since I had a fast and easy birth without any tearing or stitches or complications to warrant a long stay. I was also worried about having a roommate. I wanted to leave before I had to share a room (and toilet) with someone who was also bleeding and had a crying baby. Ugh, I can’t imagine! Am I shallow?
Luckily the five days at the hospital were amazing! Seriously. They are so in to aftercare in Zürich. I had a physiotherapy class with one other mom. We learned how to keep good posture while breastfeeding (could’ve used that info with my first two children), diaper changing, and then some core exercises to get our pelvic floor and stomach strong again after birth.
The Hospital Food
I was given a menu almost immediately when we arrived on Sunday before Liam was even born. They asked if I wanted lunch before or after he was born. What?! I was about to give birth. I couldn’t really comprehend choosing a lunch order with the contractions starting. Ha!
Once in the maternity ward I had a closer look at the menu. I had the whole week’s breakfast, lunch and dinner options and circled all the food I wanted. Then I was given the special dinner out menu choices. This was a night where we took our new family of five downstairs to the hospital restaurant and had a fancy 17 year old mini bottle of wine and a bunch of different smoked and fresh salmon. It was very nice and felt like a treat.
I was a blur of newborn baby magical happiness after our then unnamed baby was born. All I remember is hours after his birth and being moved to the maternity ward, I didn’t know where diapers were to change him. I pressed my little red call button and the midwives came in. It was late at night on my first night and my family had already left. I asked if I could have a diaper to change him for the first time. They said that everything is kept in the nursery and they would show me everything in the morning. So nice! They took Liam away for a few minutes and brought him back in a fresh diaper and another new hospital provided outfit.
So Liam did not wear any of his own clothes while in the hospital. Every time he needed to be changed the midwives would go into the closet and grab him a new onesie and romper to wear. I am assuming there is something hygienic about having all the babies wear hospital washed clothes instead of their own clothes from home, but I’m not entirely sure. I didn’t ask questions.
The morning after Liam was born the midwives took me to the nursery to show me how to change him and use the right products to keep the changing pad and room clean. They also showed me how to weigh him each morning to track his weight and his temperature.
The hospital pediatrician came to visit the baby the day he was born once we were in the maternity ward. He also came a few more times before we left the hospital. It’s all kind of a blur but I would say he came to visit Liam three times in five days to check all his vitals.
My Gynecologist came to visit me the morning after the baby was born as well as two or three more times in the 5 days I was in the hospital. He came the Thursday morning that I was released and asked if I wanted to stay another night or two at the hospital due to my mastitis and high fever.
My doctor told me that morning, if I still had a fever when I got home to call him as I would need antibiotics for mastitis and to control the fever.
I was lucky enough to have a room to myself for all 5 days of my hospital stay. The delivery room of course I had to myself, but with half private insurance, I should have had a roommate in my room on the maternity ward for the five day stay. The midwives kept telling me my roommate was coming each day, but I think they must have gone for a private room once getting to the maternity floor.
I was very lucky I was the first person in my room as otherwise I’m sure I would’ve had a roommate. The room was just big enough for the baby and I. The noise of both newborn babies and all the blood from our recovery with sharing just one bathroom and handheld shower. I’m just really thankful I did have my own room. Judging from me banging into everything in my tiny room I can’t imagine another bed and bassinet in there. Maneuvering the bassinet, food tray and my bed was crazy enough.
Day Five In The Hospital Thursday Night
As we left the hospital on day five at noon, I was shaking and freezing as we went home. I was so cold. I got in bed and had my daughter bring me a hot water bottle to warm me up, had my husband put a heating patch on my back, and put sweats and socks on in bed. I asked him to take my temperature and it was 102. I have never had such a high fever in my life, so we called the hospital to relay the message to my Gynecologist to let him know I was not doing well.
The midwife asked us to come right back in so she could examine me. When we arrived, all five of us, she ended up diagnosing my mastitis and giving me two types of pain and fever medication and antibiotics.
I did not have mastitis with my girls. So I did not know the warning signs. I could have caught this in the hospital on day three when my milk came in if I had known the signs. So, hoping that this can help someone, here are the signs of mastitis. I felt a lot of achy pain in my spine like I needed to take a bath or hot shower.
I did not know I already had the high fever and this was a symptom of the chills part of the fever. This would last for hours where I would feel extremely cold with my teeth uncontrollably chattering. Then, I would completely sweat my sheets and clothes. This was a different part of the fever. So the freezing cold and the extreme sweating are part of the beginning symptoms of mastitis.
Then I noticed one breast was very hard. I tried massaging it before feedings but it kept getting harder and I kept finding more hard milk ducts to massage. And finally the last symptom was when the midwife saw the red spot on my breast. Here is an article I found really helpful and wish I would have read before getting mastitis. Make sure to ask the midwives in the hospital if you feel any of these symptoms.
Vaccines and Circumcision
Two hot button topics, vaccines and circumcision, I know. We were never asked about circumcision in the hospital, not once. It is not done here and I’m guessing we would have had to make a special request to have it done.
Our baby did not have any vaccines after his birth or during the stay in the hospital. Not one. No eye drops, no shots, nothing. Last week our girls’ pediatrician called to schedule baby Liam’s four week check up. The very first check up is at four weeks. I’ll write about that when it happens. I’m expecting vaccines to be done then. I’m not sure which ones and if it is more or less than the standard done in the UK or US.
Naming Our Baby
We were told after the birth of our baby that we needed to name him by day three in the hospital. We had no idea what to name him even on day five! As we were literally leaving the hospital and I was having uncontrollable chills and my teeth were chattering, we still had a blank piece of paper without his name on it! Heike wanted Hans. Hadley wanted Henrik. I wanted Levi or Henning and André was the undecided dark horse. He said how about Liam?
So we wrote it down and got out of the hospital. Liam Henning is his name. Henning is my husband’s grandfather’s name which is super special. Liam is a random name he thought up in overtime. Is that the story I should tell Liam or should I make it sound more magical and meaningful. I think the hardest part is choosing a name.
First Day At Home- Friday
My midwife made her first visit the day after we got out of the hospital. She examined me and saw that my mastitis had gotten worse. My breast now had a red circle on it which I guess is a good indicator of mastitis, besides having rock hard breasts and a crazy high fever. She gave us her hospital grade pump so I could work on getting all the milk out of my breasts if I wasn’t emptying them enough through breastfeeding. Since my little baby was losing a bit of weight after birth, he was not drinking enough and not emptying enough milk.
She also asked if I was emotional. I said no. We went about our day in Zürich after she left our house. We spent two hours in town and I was so happy to finally be out and about after five days inside a hospital and a morning inside with the midwife plus all this nonsense with antibiotics.
But very quickly I started to get the crazy cold chills again. We went home and I climbed back in bed. That’s when I started crying uncontrollably and I felt completely hopeless. I wrote my Mom and Aunt an email about how awful I felt and then I took my temperature again. Still 102 even though I was on all this fever reducing medication and had started antibiotics. I just felt like I was never going to get better, breastfeed my baby, and felt like I would spend another week in a bed.
Luckily, the next morning I felt wonderful. After three doses of antibiotics got into my system, I felt fantastic. I ended up taking four days worth of antibiotics, but I started feeling better once I had three pills in my system, or the day after I started taking them.
Liam’s weight has also been an issue, probably due to the mastitis. He was born at 3kg. In the hospital he was 2.8kg which is completely fine. But then the first week being weighed by the midwife he went down from 2.8kg on her first visit to 2.6kg by the second week. We are working to get him back to his birth weight.
If you missed it, here’s Liam’s birth story.