For the mother-to-be, a stay at the maternity hospital means the birth of a joyfully awaited baby. But as the mistress of a household, it means preparing the house and the family for her absence and for her subsequent return accompanied by a new personality. A month or two before the expected birth, the baby’s accommodations in the household should be planned, whether they are a separate room, one shared with another family member, or simply a crib and changing table near the parents’ bed, For later ease and convenience, it is sensible to collect the essentials of the baby’s needs (layette) at the same time.
During the rnother’s absence, other young children in the household will need care and companionship. For them, a relative such as a grandmother or aunt might plan to replace the mother in the home for a few days; this is preferable to sending the children to stay elsewhere, but the latter may be necessary. In some cases a homemaker or housekeeper can be hired for a short period. Local service agencies may help to find a moderate-cost mother’s helper; the children should, if possible, become accustomed to her before the mother leaves, and she to the household and its workings. With the children and the household provided for, the mother need only prepare herself for her own hospital trip. Weeks before the date she should pack a small containing the items she will need for her stay. The infant’s linens and bottles will be by the nursery in most though this should be checked beforehand. For the baby’s trip home, a few items may be packed with the mother’s or brought in by the family the day before leaving the hospital. The packed valise should be kept in an accessible spot ready for departure at any hour.