After the birth

Bringing your baby home for the first time can be emotional, exciting and a bit intimidating. Knowing a little bit about what to expect and who will be there to support you can help.

Your postnatal care

After you’ve given birth your doctor or midwife will talk to you about your postnatal care and what this means for you and your baby. This should include contact details for the labour ward where you gave birth, in case you have any concerns or worries about yourself or your baby.

If you gave birth in hospital

Some women leave after 24 hours and others may stay a few days before they can take their baby home. You may have to stay longer if you had a caesarean section or if you had a complicated labour, for example if your baby was premature.

Who will care for me when I am at home with my baby

Once you are at home, the midwife should visit you on the first day after you've been discharged from the hospital to check on you and your baby. Call the hospital if this doesn’t happen.

There is no set number of visits you will have from your midwife. They will visit you for as long as they think you need their support. However, you will usually have a minimum of 3 visits in the first couple of weeks.

Your child’s health record

Shortly before or after your baby is born, you'll be given a personal child health record. This is known as the ‘red book’. It is used to record your childs height and weight, vaccinations and other important information.

You may find it helpful to keep this book with any other information you’ve been given about your pregnancy and labour, so you find it easier to refer to during any postnatal appointments.

Meeting your health visitor

You’ll start seeing your health visitor around 10 days after your baby is born. A health visitor is a qualified nurse or midwife who is there to help you, your family and your new baby stay healthy.

They can visit you at home or you can see them at your local child health clinic, GP surgery or health centre. You’ll be given their contact details in case you need any support outside appointment times.

You should be asked about your baby’s health and your own at every postnatal check. Your health visitor will chat to you about:

  • your general health
  • how much bleeding you have and if you’ve had any headaches
  • how your wound is healing if you had a tear or cut during labour or a caesarean section
  • your mental health and how you are feeling
  • your baby’s health and how to know if something is wrong
  • how your baby is sleeping and how you are coping
  • how your relationship with your baby is developing
  • what support you have from family and friends
  • how you’re getting on with feeding, whether you’re breast, combine or formula feeding.

You should also be given details about local information and support networks, such as local child health clinics, parent and baby groups and local family information services. 

“It helps to have someone to speak to who understands that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and need a little bit of time to adjust.”
Stephanie

Don’t be afraid to ask any questions during this time, even if you think you’ve asked it before. You’ll be given a lot of information after giving birth, and the first few days and weeks can be overwhelming. It’s very easy to forget things. Your midwife and health visitor will understand this and do what they can to support you.

 
 

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Sources

NICE (2006). Postnatal care up to 8 weeks after birth. National Institute for health and care excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/CG37

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Last reviewed on May 8th, 2019. Next review date May 8th, 2022.

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