Although everything has been leading up to the moment when you leave hospital and take your baby home, it’s probably still a bit of a shock when it finally happens! So don’t worry if you’re feeling a bit nervous to start with - it’s understandable. The good news is that you’ll have plenty of expert help around you in the first ten days, with your midwife or health visitor dropping in to check that everything’s going well, and answer any questions you might have. We’re here to help you too, with some top tips for those early days.
Common question new parents have
How long will I be in hospital?
It’s different for everyone, and depends on how you and your baby are doing, and what kind of birth you had – it’s important to trust the judgement of the health care professionals. If you or your baby need extra care, or if you had a Caesarean section, you might be in hospital for a bit longer than you may have expected.
Whether you are in hospital or at home, the midwives are there to guide and support you. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.
What happens after I leave hospital?
In the first 10 days your midwife will visit you at home and support you - including helping you breastfeed, if that’s what you’ve chosen to do. You’ll have been given your neonatal notes when you leave hospital, and this will help your midwife and health visitor to make sure everything is going well. You’ll also need to register your baby at your GP practice and apply for a birth certificate within 2 weeks of the birth.
As long as your baby has a safe place to sleep and a place you can change and bathe them you’re all set. The more you can organise before you go to hospital, the less stressed you’ll feel when you get home.
How do I get my baby home?
No matter how you get your wee one home – in your car, a family or friend’s car, or taxi, your baby needs to be in a car seat. You’re bound to be nervous in that first ride home, so make sure that the car seat fits all the safety requirements. It just means there’s one less thing to think about. You can read about them here.
What if my baby needs special care?
Having a baby who needs neonatal care is worrying for parents, and it’s important to get the information and support you need. Babies may need special care for a number of reasons - such as being born early, of if they are very small and have a low birthweight, have an infection or if the delivery was difficult.
It’s natural to feel anxious if your baby needs special care. Talk over any worries and fears with the hospital staff - and ask them to explain any treatment your baby is given and why. If you understand what’s happening, you can help your baby get the best possible care.
Many hospitals have counselling and advice services. The charity Bliss also provides lots of information and support for parents with babies being cared for in a neonatal unit. You can find out more here.
It can also help to hear other parents talk about their experiences of having a baby in special care. You can watch their stories here.
Why is my baby crying?
As you and your baby develop a secure attachment it will be easier for you to pick up on cues and respond quickly to your little one. Some babies do cry more than others though. It can help to go through a checklist of what the problem might be, but if you’re worried, speak to your midwife, health visitor or have a look at Ready Steady Baby for some pointers.
How do I cope with my crying baby?
It can be frustrating and emotionally draining when your baby won’t seem to stop crying. …So if you’re getting upset, pop them down in a safe place or ask someone else to hold them so you can get a break. Sometimes a cuddle, a warm bath or heading out for a walk for a change of scene can help babies stop crying. Over time, you will be able to recognise your baby’s cues and be able to respond to them quicker and prevent crying – but it takes time to learn. Be patient with yourself and the baby.
What is colic and what can I do about it?
There is a chance the crying could be caused by colic. Colic is the name for excessive, frequent crying in a baby who appears to be otherwise healthy. It’s a common problem that affects up to one in five babies. You’ll find helpful advice on what to do if you think your baby has colic here or speak to your midwife or health visitor.
How do I change my baby's nappy?
Your newborn will poo several times a day and pee at least 5-6 times a day. You don’t need much to change a nappy – just a changing mat or towel will do, plus some cotton wool or wet wipes. You might also prefer the idea of a changing table. It’s a lot easier on your back - but just make sure you don’t leave your baby alone, in case they fall.
You’ll soon get the hang of perfect nappy changes, but here’s a 10 step guide to help you.
What you’ll see in your baby’s nappy will look quite different over the first month. Wet and dirty nappies are a sign that your baby is getting enough milk. So don’t worry when the number of heavy, wet nappies increases each day - that’s normal. And don’t be surprised when you see changes in the colour and texture of your wee one’s poo - that’s normal, too.