‘Postnatal care’ is the care received following the birth of your baby. Your midwife will discuss your options for after you’ve had your baby during your antenatal appointments and within your birth plan.
The length of time between your delivery and discharge home will be dependent on the health and wellbeing of you and your baby, but there is lots of support available in hospital and once you go home. If you gave birth at home, you will continue to be supported by the community midwifery team.
Your midwife will contact you shortly after you return home to check that you and your baby are both safe and well and answer any questions you might have. They will then visit you between 5 and 8 days later to carry out the 'heel prick' blood test on your baby to identify some rare but serious conditions.
Most babies screened will not have any of the conditions but, for the small numbers who do, the benefits of screening are enormous as early treatment can improve their health and prevent severe disability.
Your community midwife will then visit you a third time to check how you and your family are adapting to family life. They can also offer advice about breastfeeding, registering the birth and contraception. If your midwife feels that you are adapting well then you will be discharged to the care of your local Health Visitor and GP. If you require additional support this will be arranged through your midwife.
During this challenging time stress levels at home may be increased. Please follow the ICON guidance for coping with crying.
The ICON website contains information that you or parents you know may find useful. Please feel free to share, download and use the content.
You can download the ICON leaflet here.
During your pregnancy or your postnatal period staff will discuss these points with you:-
- Infant crying is normal and it will stop: A baby’s cry can be upsetting and frustrating. It is designed to get your attention and you may be worried that something is wrong with your baby. Your baby may start to cry more frequently at about 2 weeks of age. The crying may get more frequent and last longer during the next few weeks, hitting a peak at about 6 to 8 weeks. Every baby is different, but after about 8 weeks, babies start to cry less and less each week.
- Comfort methods can sometimes sooth a baby and the crying will stop: Babies can cry for reasons such as if they are hungry, tired, wet/dirty or if they are unwell. Check these basic needs and try some simple calming techniques, these techniques may not always work. It may take a combination or more than one attempt to soothe your baby.
- Talk calmly, hum or sing to your baby
- Let them hear a repeating or soothing sound
- Hold them close – skin to skin.
- Go for a walk outside with your baby.
- Give them a warm bath.
(Remember, If you think there is something wrong with your baby or the crying won’t stop speak to your GP, Midwife or Health Visitor. If you are worried that your baby is unwell call NHS 111.)
- It’s OK to walk away if you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you: Not every baby is easy to calm but that doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong. Don’t get angry with your baby or yourself. Instead, put your baby in a safe place and walk away so that you can calm yourself down by doing something that takes your mind off the crying. Try:
- Listening to music, doing some exercises or doing something that calms you.
- Call a relative or friend – they may be able to help you calm or may be able to watch your baby.
- After a few minutes when you are calm, go back and check on the baby. It’s normal for parents to get stressed, especially by crying. Put some time aside for yourself and take care of your needs as well as your baby’s to help you cope.
- Never ever shake or hurt a baby: Handling a baby roughly will make them more upset. Shouting or getting angry with your baby will make things worse. Sometimes parents and people looking after babies get so angry and frustrated with a baby’s cry they lose control. They act on impulse and shake their baby. Shaking or losing your temper with a baby is very dangerous and can cause:
- Learning disabilities
- Physical disabilities
- Remember – This phase will stop! Be an ICON for your baby and cope with their crying. Babies Cry, You Can Cope!
- I - Infant crying is normal and it will stop
- C - Comfort methods can sometimes soothe the baby and the crying will stop
- O - It’s OK to walk away if you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you
- N - Never ever shake or hurt a baby
Share the ICON message! It isn’t just parents who get frustrated at a baby’s cry. Think very carefully about who you ask to look after your baby. Share the ICON message with anyone who may look after your baby. Check that caregivers understand about how to cope with crying before you decide to leave your baby with them and share this ICON leaflet or website with them.