Post-natal Midwifery Care
When you are discharged from the hospital or following your home birth, your community midwife will either attend your home address or ask you to visit a postnatal clinic during the postnatal period. The purpose of community midwife visits and appointments are to ensure the emotional and physical health and wellbeing of you and your baby, including support with feeding and caring for your baby.
Both you and your baby must be present at all appointments, which will take place
- the day after discharge from the hospital /day after your home birth,
- day 3 if breastfeeding
- day 5
- between days 10 and 14
More frequent visits may be arranged as needed.
If you require a visit or appointment before your next scheduled one you can call the Community Midwifery Enquiry Line Maternity Contacts - CHFT (cht.nhs.uk) (links to an external website)
On day 5 or 6 you will be offered a newborn blood spot test for baby, sometimes called the ‘heel prick test’. The test will be explained to you and you will be asked for consent. Find out more about the test here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/newborn-screening/blood-spot-test/
Jaundice is common in newborn babies and usually harmless. Jaundice usually develops around 2-3 days old and normally resolves around 2 weeks without treatment. If jaundice develops within the first 24 hours of birth this can be a sign of an underlying health condition, however this is rare.
Jaundice causes yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, sometimes dark urine and pale coloured stools. Your midwife will assess jaundice during your stay at the hospital and during the postnatal period. The midwife may use a hand held device to check levels in baby’s skin or take a sample of blood from the baby’s heel to determine whether treatment is needed. In babies with high levels of bilirubin if not treated there is a risk or permanent brain damage.
Jaundice is caused by a build-up of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow substance which is caused when red blood cells are broken down. Red blood cells are used to carry oxygen around the body and babies carry extra red bloods cells to help them get more oxygen whilst in the womb. These cells have to be broken down by the baby’s immature liver after birth which is why jaundice is common in babies.
Looking after yourself
Healing and recovery after your baby’s birth will all depend on what type of birth you had. Remember to always listen to your body and pace yourself. Eating nutritious foods and taking gentle exercise will help you to recover, as will sleeping whenever you can do around feeding your baby.
It’s normal to experience bleeding for a few weeks after birth. Try to keep any stitches as clean and dry as possible, changing pads frequently. This also applies to abdominal wounds, to prevent infection.
Pelvic floor muscles are weakened during pregnancy and birth. This can lead to incontinence so it’s important to strengthen them after childbirth. Below is a link to help guide you through pelvic floor exercises and how to do them. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/womens-health/what-are-pelvic-floor-exercises/
It is normal during the postnatal period for mums to feel periods of low mood, often referred to as ‘baby blues’. Baby blues should only last a short amount of time and then disappear. In some cases, low mood may continue, it is important to know that if you are struggling with your mental health whether this is a new or an existing mental health condition that you are not alone and we encourage you to seek help from your GP/Midwife or Health Visitor.
You can get pregnant soon after your baby is born even if you are breastfeeding or your periods haven’t returned! It’s always best to space out pregnancies to give your body time to recover properly, so think about contraception whilst you are pregnant and start using soon after your baby’s birth. There are many different forms of contraception, you may find this link useful in helping you decide which contraception is best for you. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/