All being well it may be possible to go home a few hours after the birth. If there are any concerns you may stay a day or two. If you’ve had a caesarean, provided your baby is well, you will generally be discharged after around three days.
You will be given your handheld notes to hand over to your community midwife when she does a home visit. You may be given a copy of the letter with details of your baby’s birth for your family doctor (although this may be sent directly to your doctor). You will be provided with instructions on how to register your baby’s birth, which you are legally required to do before they are six weeks old.
Before you and your baby can be discharged:
Bringing your baby home from hospital
Unless you can push your baby home in a pram or carry him in the baby sling on the bus, you will need a car seat for your baby suitable for a newborn. Before your baby is born, have a few goes at practising attaching the car seat. Prepare for a slow and momentous drive home as (especially for dads) this is often when it sinks in that you are utterly responsible for the care of your new baby. Most new mums cannot wait to get home from the busy postnatal ward. Make sure that you have planned and got support lined up from your partner and family as the first days at home can be a tough transition.
Depending on your hospital trust and whether or not this is your first baby, you should receive some visits from your community midwife/support worker during the first 10 days. You may also are asked to attend a postnatal clinic but do let your midwife know if you are unable to do this. She will check that your baby is doing well, offer support with feeding and make sure you are recovering from the birth. She will weigh your baby at least twice during this period (more if the baby has lost a significant amount of weight) confirm your baby is regaining her birth weight (most babies lose a bit of weight in the first days after the birth). Write down any questions you want to ask before she comes just in case you forget something. Your midwife can help you with:
When you and your midwife are happy, you will then be discharged her care and passed over to your community health visitor.
It can be a shock to try and sit up after you’ve had a caesarean as the muscles you use to sit up have been cut to deliver your baby. However, it’s important (and you will be encouraged) to get up and about as soon as you can after the birth, but it’s normal to feel a little shaky the first time you wee, poo or have a shower. At first, you will need to gently support your scar when you do go to the loo or feel a sneeze coming on as it will hurt.
Once the dressing has been removed (usually in the shower), you will need to keep the scar clean and dry (after showers) and look out for redness, puss or signs of infection. Depending on the kind of stitches or staples your surgeon used they may need to be removed after about a week; your midwife can do this when you are back at home.
A caesarean section is major abdominal surgery so be gentle with yourself after the birth. Rest as much as you can. No heavy lifting or hoovering and don’t go up and down stairs too much. Check your car insurance as you may not be able to drive for a few weeks.
Postnatal pilates and yoga can help rebuilding your core muscle strength, which is particularly helpful after a caesarean. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor before you start exercising and wait until after your 6-8 week check up.
These first few days and weeks with your baby are all about bonding, getting to know your baby and learning to be a parent.
The early weeks after having a baby can be overwhelming and prepare to feel exhausted a lot of the time. Don’t be in a rush to get back to normal too quickly as this is a special time for you to adjust to being a new family. Your body has been through a life-changing experience – they don’t call it ‘labour’ for nothing! We would recommend that you keep things simple, stay in your nightclothes if this helps you, ask family and friends to take over domestic chores. You will quickly exhaust yourself if have to look after lots of guests and get out and about. Try to keep visitors to a minimum and accept all offers of help. Try also not to pass your baby around for all visitors to hold as this can be very unsettling so try to keep this to close family members only while your baby is getting used to the world.
Stocking up on freezer meals or asking family and friends to bring food can help ensure you are fed in those early weeks. Getting and/or having a stock of clean clothes before the baby was born should now leave you time to:
The baby blues are a very common phenomenon where new mums feel overwhelmed, tearful and sad. This tends to happen around three to four days after your baby is born and coincides with a huge drop in progesterone levels in your body (much bigger than that observed around pre-menstrual syndrome to give you an idea of the hormonal change you are experiencing).
You will also be tired and still not recovered from the birth so be kind to yourself at this time. Speak to your midwife or health visitor if you start to feel depressed. These feelings are very common in the tough first weeks with your baby. If you think that your depression is more than baby blues, talk to your health visitor or family doctor about postnatal depression. Around 1in 10 women go on to experience postnatal depression and they are there to give you the help you need.
About five days after the birth, your midwife will do a heel prick test to test for up to nine serious but rare illnesses, many of which can be improved if treated early. A little spot of blood is taken from your baby’s foot and taken away for analysis. The test includes screening for:
If any of the tests come back positive, you will be contacted by your doctor.
If you are based in the USA, your baby will be screened for a greater number of rare illnesses, up to 77 conditions and rare diseases. This depends on which State you live in.