When you first take your baby home you may feel overwhelmed and experience many mixed emotions! You may feel excited and full of joy yet also unsure of what the days and nights will bring, as you adjust to life with your new baby. Try to relax and take it day by day. Each day is new and full of surprises for you all.
If this is your first pregnancy, you are probably wandering what happens when you leave the hospital. To take some of the unknown away I’ve put together a note to explain the weeks ahead, from the baby screening tests to the available community supports and everything in between!
When you leave the hospital you will be given your baby’s Child Health book. This record contains all the information needed about your baby's birth along with weights, apgar scores and weight/issues at discharge etc. It has a section on immunizations, space to record any illnesses and the details of community supports. All babies information can now be recorded in this one central record and by keeping it with you at all times, it is available to provide essential information about your babies health and development to other health professionals that may be involved in your babies care in the first few years of life.
Within the first week, your local Maternal Child Health Nurse (MCHN) will be in contact with you to organize your first visit. They may come to your home or may request that you bring your baby to the local maternal and child health centre. The nurse will talk to you about how you are going and track your baby’s growth and development, monitor your babies weight, feeding, jaundice levels, general health and wellness and provide general mother crafting advice. The MCHN is able to make referrals for you to other allied health practitioners should any issues arise.
If you have chosen a private obstetrician, you may be asked to attend a 6 week post natal check-up. If you have given birth at a public hospital, it is important to attend your local doctor for a postnatal check-up at 6 weeks.
It is important during the postnatal period that you look after yourself. This is an exciting time for you however it can also be very overwhelming and challenging! Be sure to keep your emotional health in check. Accept offers of help from others gracefully. Remember the old saying of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’! Accept the offer for a cooked meal, the floor slept, washing hung out or the toddler entertained for an hour or so. If you feel it’s all getting too much there are several organisations that you can contact. They will be able to help you. Should you or your partner need, please don’t hesitate to talk with a trained counsellor about your situation at Beyond Blue (for more information) or PANDA
During this time you may experience an influx of visitors, all eager to meet your new baby. If you find this too much, talk to your partner and have them organise specific, limited visiting times or ask that all visitors call before they come. Work out with your partner what works for you and make this clear to friends and relatives politely.
Feeding your baby- The World Health Organisation recommends that babies are exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months of life. This however, is not always possible. If you choose to provide your baby with a breastmilk alternative, it is essential to your babies health that you are preparing the formula correctly (refer to instructions on tin) and that you are sterilising all feeding equipment adequately. You can expect a breast fed baby to feed 2-5 hourly and babies fed breastmilk alternatives, usually between 3-4 hours. For more information on Breastfeeding visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association For further information regarding feeding in general, including the preparation of breastmilk alternatives and sterilising feeding equipment you can visit Raising Children
Immunisations are a simple, safe and effective way of protecting children from disease. Immunisations will be discussed with you during your antenatal visits and you will be asked to sign a consent form for your baby’s Hepatitis B vaccine at birth. A copy of the immunisation schedule as recommended by the NHMRC can be viewed at Immunise Health. Immunisations can be provided at 8 weeks (next one due) by your GP or council clinic. Your babies immunisations will be recorded on the Australian Childhood Immunisation Record (ACIR). The Immunisation information line can also be contacted for questions on 1800 671 811