Information for postnatal mums going home
Before going home, you and your baby will receive a full examination to check if you are both well.
If no problems are identified, we will prepare for your transfer home from the maternity unit.
Before leaving, you will receive the following:
- letter with information on your pregnancy, birth and postnatal time in the maternity unit – please give this to your community midwife when she visits you for the first time after the birth
- Personal Child Health Record (‘red book’) – you must take this to all your baby’s healthcare appointments
- contact details for the community midwives
- list of common problems and who to contact if any of these occur
- any medication you need and advice on how to take it
- Birth to five book, which provides lots of advice for you, your baby and your family
- advice on feeding
Depending on your address, you may be offered the opportunity to take your maternity handheld records for your community midwife to document the care you receive at home. It is important that you give these records to your community midwife when she visits. When the community midwife discharges you from her care, she will return the maternity handheld records to the hospital.
Importance of rest
Sleep when your baby sleeps, even during the day. It is normal to feel tired. Your body has gone through labour, delivery and many physical changes. It needs extra rest for healing.
Allow yourself time to get your strength back. With plenty of rest and support, you should recover quickly.
Blood clotting information
The two videos below and this letter provide important information you should be aware of.
The video ‘Information letter for pregnant or recently delivered women in Belfast’ talks you through the details of the letter.
The other video ‘How to self-administer enoxaparin’ is for women with risk factors and who would benefit from blood thinning injections.
Rapid changes in your hormone levels after birth can bring mixed feelings and emotions. This is called the ‘baby blues’. It is a normal stage that can last for a few days. Talking about your feelings can help.
Being too tired following the birth can lead to you feeling unwell and unable to cope. The stress of new responsibilities can make the ‘baby blues’ worse.
If the ‘blues’ do not go away they may develop into a condition called postnatal depression. This usually occurs two to eight weeks after the birth although it can happen anytime up to a year after your baby is born. With postnatal depression you may feel increasingly depressed and despondent and looking after yourself or your baby may become too much. Postnatal depression is a treatable illness and if you are concerned or think you may require advice or help talk to a health professional as soon as possible.
After you give birth, you will have some bleeding from your vagina. This is called lochia.
The lochia is a red colour at first, then brown, and finally yellow-white. For about 10 days, it will be like a heavy period and it can continue for up to six weeks.
It is very important to wash your hands before and after using the toilet until your bleeding has stopped.
It is also important to change your sanitary pads at least four times a day until your bleeding has stopped.
Proper perineal care (feminine hygiene care) is important to prevent infection of the perineum, bladder and uterus. Keep your perineum clean by having a shower or bath every day and don’t use scented products.
You should have received a leaflet explaining exercises to help you regain pre-pregnancy muscle tone.
If you have any concerns, you can contact the physiotherapy department in the maternity unit up to six weeks after the birth.
After this time, please contact your GP.
Your midwife will give you advice on contraceptives after the birth. It is possible to become pregnant again very soon after the birth of a baby, even if you are breastfeeding and even if your periods haven’t returned.
You ovulate and release an egg about two weeks before your period arrives. Therefore, your fertility may have returned before you realise.
It is important to organise contraception if you are not planning to become pregnant again soon or have been advised to delay your next pregnancy, for example after a casearean section.
You can discuss contraception at any time with your midwife or health visitor. Read more about contraception choices in Northern Ireland.
Ask your community midwife to take your blood pressure as SH:24 staff will ask you for a recent blood pressure reading.
- Cervical screening advice
- Breast awareness
Before you leave hospital, you will be asked about domestic violence. It is a good opportunity for you to voice any concerns you may have.
Our hospital and community staff are trained to support victims of domestic violence.
Further advice is available through Women’s Aid
Stopping smoking is one of the best things a mother can do to benefit her health and the health of her baby.
Our midwives are available to provide information, support, advice and encouragement for mothers who decide to stop smoking.
Download this booklet that explains why smoking in pregnancy is so harmful. It also offers advice to help you stop smoking.
You can also download this leaflet on using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in pregnancy.
Ongoing care by the community midwife, health visitor and GP
The community midwife will visit you and your baby the day after you go home.
If you have not received a visit from the community midwife by 3pm the day after you returned home from the maternity unit, please contact one of the following:
- community midwives office in the Maternity Hospital: 028 9063 3802 (please leave a message if necessary)
- ward or department you were in before returning home:
– E ward: 028 9063 2044
– Johnstone House: 028 9063 8154
– delivery suite: 028 9063 3412 / 2003 / 3546
Your community midwife will assess and monitor your mental and physical health.
If you are recovering normally and your baby is well, the community midwife will transfer you and your baby’s care to a health visitor at around 10 to 14 days after the birth. This timescale can be extended if the community midwife feels it is necessary.
Health visitors are registered nurses or midwives who can offer advice and support to ensure you and your baby continue to progress well.
A postnatal examination is carried out approximately six weeks after your baby’s birth to check on your health and wellbeing. You need to contact your GP for this appointment. This will complete your maternity care.
You can also contact your GP if you have any other concerns.
Advice for taking your baby home
There is something very special about being alone with your new baby for the first time. However, it is only natural to feel a bit anxious too.
Before you go home from hospital with your baby, please ensure you know how to change a nappy and care for all your baby’s hygiene needs. Staff will be happy to show you how.
Please ensure you also know how to make up a bottle before going home. Staff can teach you how to use sterilisers. Further advice on how to sterilise is available here.
Sadly, we don’t know why some babies die from ‘cot death’ or ‘sudden infant death syndrome’ (SIDS). However, we do know that:
- putting a baby to sleep on their back reduces the risks
- exposing a baby to cigarette smoke or overheating a baby increases the risks
Remember that cot death is rare, so don’t let it stop you enjoying your baby’s first few months. However, you should follow the advice below to reduce the risks as much as possible.
- The safest place for your baby to sleep is in the cot beside your bed.
- Place your baby on their back to sleep.
- Place your baby in the ‘feet to foot’ position.
- Do not smoke in pregnancy or let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby.
- Do not share a bed with your baby.
- Never sleep with your baby on the sofa or armchair.
- Do not let your baby get too hot – keep your baby’s head uncovered.
- Ensure your baby is lying on a firm safety mattress.
How to comfort your baby and keep your cool
Being a parent can be amazing and stressful at the same time. It can make a big difference if you stay relaxed and learn how to soothe your crying baby.
The NSPCC website has a wide range of tips to help you, some of them from mums and dads themselves.
Registering your baby's birth
By law, all babies must be registered within 42 days of birth.
A baby’s birth can only be registered in the district the mother lives in or the district where the baby was born. Registration of the birth is free.
A short birth certificate will be issued along with a form to register your baby with a GP. This form should be completed and left with your GP as soon as possible.