One of the most shocking things a mother can endure is hearing that her child needs hospital admission. Parents often stay with their children during multiple-day and often unexpected hospital stays. Many parents also insist on caring for their children themselves. That means someone has to take care of Mom by making sure she has what she needs in the hospital.
You Can Help
When you hear that a friend’s child has been admitted to the hospital, your first impulse might be to help. And you can. Most any mom would be happy to have a supply of healthy snacks, books, craft items, pictures, gift cards for ebooks and music. Think of indulgences she may not ask for but are necessary in the hospital, such as hand sanitizer and lotions.
Mothers in the hospital have a lot of people to keep in touch with. Make sure the mom you know has the proper tools to accomplish this. Some hospitals provide wireless internet access to parents. However, Mom will need a cell phone, cell phone charger, either a laptop or a smartphone to access the internet and some type of music device. Providing some new music for Mom, perhaps on a thumb drive so she can save it to her laptop, is a thoughtful way to nurture her.
Chances are, with a child in the hospital, Mom is going to be under stress. She may not be taking care of herself properly. Even though she may not want to leave her child’s side, she still needs to get some exercise. Workout videos or DVDs could help her exercise right in her child’s room. Yoga is another -- and quiet -- activity she could do. You could provide a yoga mat for the floor and even some light weights.
Sleep and Support
Another thing Mom needs at the hospital is sleep. You can help with this also. Bring Mom the pillow from her own bed, which will feel and smell familiar. A blanket from home can help her sleep better as well: Unless your friend is lucky enough to be able to sleep in a spare hospital bed, she may be sleeping on a fold-out chair. Hospitals can be noisy, so earplugs and a sleep mask can keep Mom undisturbed when nurses move in and out of the room all night to check the child's vital signs. The best thing you can bring a mother with a child in the hospital, though, is yourself. Visit her, talk to her, hug her and let her know you care.
- Cincinnati Children's Family Resource Center
- Journal of Advanced Nursing; Parent Participation in the Care of Hospitalized Children -- A Systematic Review; N. Power, L. Franck; June 2008
- Journal of Pediatric Nursing; Hospitalized Children With Chronic Illness -- Parental Caregiving Needs and Valuing Parental Expertise; Karla Balling, Marilyn McCubbin; April 2001