Your Postnatal Care
Your Postnatal Care
As a new parent, you’re bound to have questions on everything from getting started with breastfeeding to washing and bathing your baby and changing their nappy.
Here’s a quick guide to everything you need to know about caring for your new baby during those exhausting but wonderful early weeks.
Registering your baby with a GP
Register your baby with your GP as early as possible in case you need their help. You can use the pink card you’ll be given when you register your baby’s birth. Sign the card and take or post it to your GP.
Some GPs will see small babies at the beginning of surgery hours or without an appointment, but be prepared to wait. Some will give advice over the phone. Most GPs have regular child health clinics.
If you move, register with a new doctor close to you as soon as possible.
Baby Health Concerns
See a doctor if you notice the following symptoms in your baby:
- a fever (for babies 3 months old or younger)
- cries inconsolably
- listless or limp
- has convulsions (seizures)
- fontanelle, the soft spot at the top of their head, is starting to swell
- purple splotches on their skin, or another type of rash
- pale or flushed
- problems breathing
- refuses to breastfeed or drink from a bottle
- appears to have trouble swallowing
- has not peed in many hours
- has constant vomiting or the vomit has become dark green
Your Primary Postnatal Support
Community Midwifery Team
Community midwifery team works throughout the community, for example in the maternity hubs around Lincolnshire, visiting women in their homes, usually for up to 10 days after they have given birth.
The Community midwifery team also provide postnatal care for women who have been looked after during labour by hospital midwives.
A member of the team will usually visit you at home for the first time around 10 days after your baby is born.
A health visitor is a qualified nurse or midwife who has had extra training. They're there to help you, your family and your new baby stay healthy. You can be seen at home, or you can see them at your children's centre or GP surgery. They'll make sure you have their phone number.
Talk to your health visiting team if you feel anxious, depressed or worried. They can give you advice and suggest where to find help.
The Primary Care Team will see small babies at the beginning of surgery hours or without an appointment, but be prepared to wait.
Some will give advice over the phone. Most Primary Care Teams have regular child health clinics.
If you want the team to see your baby before you have registered the birth, you can go to the surgery and fill in a registration form there.
In the first few days, you and your baby will be getting to know each other. It may take time for both of you to get the hang of breastfeeding.
This happens more quickly for some women than others. But nearly all women produce enough milk for their baby.
If you have any concerns, worries or are struggling to breastfeed, please click the button below for a list of support services
If you have decided to bottle feed your baby, the link below will offer advice and guidance You may be feeding your own expressed milk with a bottle or you may have decided to feed formula milk only.
If you are feeding your baby formula milk in addition to your breast milk it is important to continue to give as much breast milk as possible because of the health benefits breast milk provides. If you want to return to full breastfeeding at any time, ask your midwife or health visitor for help.
Some babies sleep much more than others. Some sleep for long periods, others in short bursts. Some soon sleep through the night, while some don’t for a long time.
It’s important that you make yourself aware of all safe sleeping methods to ensure that your baby is resting safely.
Getting to know your newborn
Shortly after birth, the midwife will clamp your baby’s umbilical cord with a plastic clip, close to the belly button. The midwife will then cut the cord – or your birth partner may like to do this – leaving a small part, with the with the clamp attached.
The cord takes about a week to dry out and drop off. Keep it clean and dry until it does. If you notice any bleeding or discharge, tell your midwife, health visitor or GP.
On the top of your baby’s head, near the front, is a diamond-shaped patch where the skull bones haven’t fused together yet. There is another, smaller, soft spot towards the back of their head. These are called the fontanelles.
It will probably be a year or more before the bones close over. There’s no need to worry about touching or washing the fontanelles because they are covered by a tough protective membrane.
At birth, the top layer of your baby’s skin is very thin and easily damaged. Over the first month, or longer for premature babies, your baby’s skin matures and develops its own natural protective barrier.
Vernix, the white sticky substance that covers your baby’s skin while in the womb, should always be left to absorb naturally. It’s a natural moisturiser that also protects against infection in the first few days.
It’s best to bath your baby with plain water only for at least the first month. If you need to, you can also use some mild, non-perfumed soap. Avoid skin lotions, medicated wipes or adding cleansers to your baby’s bath water.
Premature babies’ skin is even more delicate. Staff in the neonatal unit will advise you on skincare.
If your baby is overdue, their skin may be dry and cracked. This is because all the protective vernix has been absorbed before they were born.
Don’t use any creams or lotions, as they may do more harm than good. The top layer of your baby’s skin will peel off over the next few days, leaving perfect skin underneath.
Your newborn’s eyes will be checked shortly after birth as part of their newborn physical examination. New babies can see, but their vision isn’t very focused. Their eyesight develops gradually over the first few months.
By the time your baby is 2 weeks old, you’ll probably notice their eyes following your face or a colourful object held about 20cm away. If they don’t seem to be doing this, mention it to your health visitor or GP.
Your newborn’s eyes may roll away from each other occasionally. This is called a squint and is normal in a newborn. It should go away by 3 months. Talk to your health visitor or GP if it doesn’t.
It’s common for a newborn baby to have some swelling and bruises on their head, and perhaps bloodshot eyes.
This is caused by squeezing and pushing during birth, and is particularly common in babies who have been delivered by forceps or ventouse. It will soon disappear but, if you’re worried, you can ask your midwife about it.
The most common birthmarks in newborns are the little pink or red V-shaped marks on the forehead, upper eyelids or neck that some people call “stork marks” or “salmon patches”. They gradually fade, but it may be a few months before they disappear completely.
Dark red and slightly raised “strawberry marks” (infantile haemangioma) are quite common. They sometimes appear a few days after birth and gradually get bigger. They may take a while to go away, but they usually disappear gradually.
Spots and rashes are very common in newborn babies. They may come and go, but if you also notice a change in your baby’s behaviour – for example, if your baby isn’t feeding well, or is very sleepy or very irritable – tell your midwife or GP immediately.
Quite often, a newborn baby’s breasts are a little swollen and ooze some milk, whether they are a boy or a girl.
Both boys’ and girls’ genitals often appear swollen initially but will look normal within a few weeks. Baby girls also sometimes bleed a bit or have a white, cloudy discharge from the vagina.
All this is caused by hormones passing from you to your baby before birth. There’s no need to be concerned.
Boys’ testicles develop inside their body and sometimes take a while to descend into the scrotum. A health professional will check whether they have descended as part of the newborn physical examination.
When they’re about 3 days old, some babies develop mild jaundice. This will make their skin and the whites of their eyes look a bit yellow. It’s caused by pigments released during the breakdown of old red blood cells.
It’s more common in babies delivered by forceps or ventouse. It usually fades on its own within about 10 days, but more severe jaundice may need treatment.
If your baby develops jaundice in their first 24 hours, they should be checked by a health professional straight away.
Down’s syndrome is when you’re born with an extra chromosome.
You usually get an extra chromosome by chance, because of a change in the sperm or egg before you’re born. This change does not happen because of anything anyone did before or during pregnancy.
Your Postnatal Health
It is common that you will experience health concerns following your pregnancy, these can include:
- Low mood
- Back ache
- Discomfort to stitches or ceasearn section wound
When to Seek Urgent Medical Attention
- Signs of infection (tempreture, shivering, pain or discharge)
- Difficulty breathing or chest pain
- Sudden heavy blood loss
- Blurred vision
- Vomiting associated with a severe headache
- Pain/swelling/redness in the back your leg
Mental Health Support
The mental well-being of women and their partner is as important as the physical well-being of the woman and developing baby.
The following services can provide advice, support and guidance.
Steps 2 Change
Offer a range of talking therapies tailored to meet your individual needs. They are free of charge, proven to be effective and helpful and provided by experienced and qualified professionals.
Whatever you're going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Promoting recovery and quality of life through effective, innovative and caring mental health, social care and specialist community services
Exercise After Birth
If you had a straightforward birth, you can start gentle exercise as soon as you feel up to it. This could include walking, gentle stretches, pelvic floor and tummy exercises. It’s usually a good idea to wait until after your 6-week postnatal check before you start any high-impact exercise, such as aerobics or running.
If you exercised regularly before giving birth and you feel fit and well, you may be able to start earlier. Talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP.
If you had a more complicated delivery or a caesarean, your recovery time will be longer. Talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP before starting anything strenuous.
Contraception after having a baby
You can get pregnant as little as 3 weeks after the birth of a baby, even if you’re breastfeeding and your periods haven’t started again.
Unless you want to get pregnant again, it’s important to use some kind of contraception every time you have sex after giving birth, including the first time.
You’ll usually have a chance to discuss contraception before you leave hospital after your baby is born, and again at your postnatal check. You can also talk to your GP or health visitor, or go to a family planning clinic, at any time.
Are there unanswered questions about your pregnancy, birth and postnatal period?
If you want to discuss the events surrounding your pregnancy and birth, it may help to talk to a midwife. Together you can read your notes, explore and deepen your understanding of issues related to your maternity care.
The midwife will talk to you in confidence. It does not matter how long ago your baby was born. Your partner is welcome too. If you are interested, please ring to arrange and appointment.
Tel: 01476 464 334
Planning Your Next Pregnancy
Should you decide to have another baby you can now register your pregnancy with the midwives online. You can click on the button below.
We Value your Feedback
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