For new mom Kirshleigh Young, caring for baby Eli at home two days after his C-section birth was tough. Fortunately, Discovery Home Care nurse Barbara le Grange was there to make sure that mom and baby received all the support they needed – in the comfort of their own home.
Kirshleigh Young, a 27-year-old travel agent, lives in Durban and has been married for three years. She and her husband celebrated the birth of their first baby, son Eli, on 2 November 2018.
Kirshleigh’s pregnancy had been difficult. She experienced severe nausea, almost for the entire nine months, and had insomnia. “I functioned on about two hours of sleep a night,” she explains. “And, the only things I could keep down were rice and water. I lost weight, and eventually gained only 7 kg during my pregnancy.”
Six months into her pregnancy, Kirshleigh was hospitalised as a result of severe pain in her legs – something some pregnant women experience. At that point, doctors also detected low levels of amniotic fluid. This would lead to her having Eli – who she carried to term – by caesarean section.
“Considering how difficult my pregnancy had been, Eli’s C-section birth went very well,” recalls Kirshleigh. “On the first day after giving birth, I was up and walking and had very little pain. We have a large family. From the time I came out of theatre after my procedure, there were already 25 people waiting to see me – and their visits continued unabated when I went home. While in hospital, there was very little time to step back, think about and ask all the questions I needed answered to prepare me to take Eli home. After two days in hospital, I was discharged. Thankfully, my doctor had the foresight to motivate for Discovery Home Care, which I had not heard of before Eli’s birth. It made the first few weeks of life as a new mom much easier for me.”
Discovery Home Care nurse Barbara le Grange takes care of Kirshleigh and Eli
Kirshleigh’s first few days at home with Eli were nerve-wracking. “Our first night with him was scary as everything was new. I couldn’t sleep a wink. I suffered from postnatal depression and felt completely overwhelmed by the influx of visitors to our home four times a day. My husband and I are both family-oriented, and it was difficult to turn people away, but I was not coping.”
“Then, a few days into being at home, Barbara le Grange – my Discovery Home Care nurse – came to see me. As a first-time mom you’re unprepared for the reality of bringing baby home, so it was wonderful to have the guidance of a medical professional, always on hand.”
Barbara is a paediatric nurse and certified lactation consultant. She has worked as a Discovery Home Care nurse for five years, also as Home Care’s nursing coordinator for KwaZulu-Natal. “Even though moms and newborn babies are well enough to go home a few days after birth, they still need a lot of mental, physical and emotional support. Home Care allows us to provide this support in the comfort of mom’s own home,” explains Barbara. “Discovery Home Care covers three postnatal visits before baby is six weeks olds. On our first visit, we take a medical history, checking any C-section wounds and referring any serious issues back to the mom’s doctor. We also provide overall baby care, checking for jaundice and referring them on for treatment or blood tests where necessary. We look at how breast- or bottle-feeding is going and check on baby’s weight gain. It’s wonderful to be able to see mom at home, as we can see her practical setup and offer advice on every element of her and baby’s care. On our second and third visits, we follow up and make sure the mom is more settled. What most moms struggle with is feeding her baby and adjusting to a new routine. I find that access to Home Care, providing answers to questions and at-home medical support really calms and reassures new moms.”
New mom Kirshleigh’s list of Home Care learnings
“As soon as I met Barbara, she explained that I had to make taking care of myself a priority. She helped me to put my foot down about our well-meaning visitors, and make sure I had the time to establish my new routine and get rest. This helped me so much and it was only the start of a long list of things that Barbara did to support me,” says Kirshleigh.
“Barbara was there for me through many trying circumstances. For example, she taught me how to get Eli to latch correctly as we had struggled – to the point that my nipples became cracked and began to bleed. She sat with me and held him, put him onto my breast and showed me how to get him to latch so that he would also be able to take in enough milk. Then, she advised me on a lanolin-based cream, which took the cracks away within a day. Barbara encouraged me not to give up on breastfeeding and suggested a top-up feed with formula when Eli seemed hungry after a breastfeed.
Barbara adds, “I recommend Home Care to all moms at home with a newborn, especially in the first two weeks after birth. Many women stop breastfeeding out of frustration, but we can step in and deal with their frustrations.”
Barbara also checked on Kirshleigh’s C-section scar to make sure that it healed completely. “She suggested I keep a bottle warmer upstairs in the baby’s room to reduce the number of times a day I was walking up and down stairs from the kitchen to his room.
Barbara says, “New moms – particularly those who are healing from C-section surgery – can’t drive to hospital or a clinic that easily. They’re also sleep-deprived, so it’s critical that they have someone to provide the support they need, ideally at home.”
“I had no idea that you could not simply mix formula up and keep it.”
Kirshleigh adds, “Barbara gave me advice on the foods to eat to increase my milk production – like jungle oats and bananas – and how to stay hydrated to make sure I was taking in enough nutrients to supplement my milk supply and my health.”
Barbara taught Kirshleigh to clean Eli’s umbilical cord and private parts, “and when Eli got an eye infection, she showed me how to clean his eyes and asked me to send her pictures on WhatsApp so that she could see if it was getting better,” says Kirshleigh. “When Barbara noticed his infection worsening, she sent me straight to the paediatrician. The fact that I could message Barbara any time to ask for any advice at all meant the world to me as a new mom.”
Barbara also taught Kirshleigh about formula feeding. “I had no idea that you could not simply mix formula up and keep it. Barbara made sure that I knew to keep it no longer than an hour if Eli had drunk from the bottle, for four hours after mixing and for 24 hours at the most, if refrigerated.
“Eli slept a lot. I felt he was sleeping too much, and I would wake him up for his feeds – 60 ml of milk, every two hours. Barbara reassured me he would wake up on his own when he was hungry and since babies need an average of 17 hours sleep a day, I didn’t have to worry that he was sleeping too much. She advised me to stay within our routine, and try to make sure that bath time happened at a specific time daily. I’d also had a lot of family baby-care practices passed down to me. Some of them – like putting infant drops into Eli’s bath water, or using gripe water – were actually unnecessary for Eli. She even showed me how to bath Eli, as I was terrified of dropping him. He was tiny when we brought him home.
“Barbara’s presence was extremely helpful. If not for her, I would have done many things incorrectly. And, the most amazing part was that all of her services were fully funded on my Discovery Health Medical Scheme plan. Discovery Home Care made all the difference to the start of little Eli’s life. Honestly, Home Care provided me with the most incredible support.”
DISCOVERY HEALTH MEDICAL SCHEME IS AN INDEPENDENT NON-PROFIT ENTITY GOVERNED BY THE MEDICAL SCHEMES ACT, AND REGULATED BY THE COUNCIL FOR MEDICAL SCHEMES. IT IS ADMINISTERED BY A SEPARATE COMPANY, DISCOVERY HEALTH (PTY) LTD, AN AUTHORISED FINANCIAL SERVICES PROVIDER.
Discovery Home Care
Discovery Home Care is a unique home-based service that offers you quality care in the comfort of your own home when recommended by your doctor as an alternative to a hospital stay if appropriate. With Home Care, there is minimum disruption to your normal routine and family life. Cover includes postnatal care, end-of-life care, IV infusions (drips) and wound care. We pay for these services from the Hospital Benefit as long as you get approval beforehand. Find out more about Discovery Home Care or call 0860 46 22 73.
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