Your new baby
You'll probably spend a large part of the first few days after birth looking at your baby. If you notice anything that worries you, however small, speak to your Midwife or Health Visitor.
Within the first 24 hours, a health professional will offer to give your baby an injection of vitamin K. This is to prevent a rare but serious blood disorder. Your baby will also have a thorough newborn physical examination in their first 72 hours. Among other things, their eyes, heart, hips and testicles (in boys) will be checked for possible problems.
In their first few weeks, you baby will also have the:
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.
You can contact your GP at any time, whether it’s for you or your child. Some GPs will see small babies at the beginning of surgery hours or without an appointment, but be prepared to wait. If you want the GP to see your baby before you’ve registered the birth, you can go to the surgery and fill in a registration form there. If you move, register with a new doctor close to you as soon as possible.
How do we look after our baby’s umbilical cord? How much can our baby see? Why are their genitals swollen? Newborn babies don’t come with an instruction manual and you’re bound to have lots of questions about their behaviour and appearance to begin with.
- Find out how to cope with a crying baby
- As a new mum, find out about the possible changes to your body and your relationships, and know how to spot the symptoms of postnatal depression
- If you have twins or multiples, you can find out more about caring for more than one baby at: the Twins Trust or the Multiple Births Foundation
Take a look at the Public Health Agency’s Birth to Five booklet; for more advice.
How your Health Visitor can help
A health visitor will usually visit you at home for the first time around 10 days after your baby is born. Until then you’ll be under the care of your local midwives.
A health visitor is a qualified nurse who has had extra training. They’re there to help you, your family and your new baby stay healthy.
Your health visitor can visit you at home, or you can see them at your child health clinic, GP surgery or health centre, depending on where they’re based. They will make sure you’ve got their phone number.
If you’re bringing up a child on your own or struggling for any reason, your health visitor can offer you extra support.
Talk to your health visitor if you feel anxious, depressed or worried. They can give you advice and suggest where to find help. They may also be able to put you in touch with groups where you can meet other mothers.
Well baby clinics
You can also talk about any problems to do with your child, but if your child is ill and likely to need treatment, it’s best to see your GP.
Children and Family Centres
Children’s centres are linked to maternity services. They provide family health and support services, early learning, and full-day or temporary care for children from birth to five years.
They also provide advice and information for parents on a range of issues, from parenting to training and employment opportunities. Some have special services for young parents.
Local advice centres
Advice centres are non-profit agencies that give advice on issues such as benefits and housing. They include Citizens Advice, community law centres, welfare rights offices, housing aid centres, neighbourhood centres, and community projects.
Look for them under these names in your phone book or under the name of your local authority. To help you get the most out of services, remember:
- Before you go, think about what you want to talk about and what information you can give that’ll be helpful. Maybe jot these ideas down.
- Unless your child needs to be with you, try to get a friend or neighbour to look after them so you can concentrate.
- If a problem is making life difficult or really worrying you, keep going until you get some kind of answer, if not a solution.
- If you don’t understand, say so. Go back over what they said to make sure you understand. It may help if they write it down for you.
- If English isn’t your first language, you may be able to get help from a link worker or health advocate. Ask your health visitor or staff at your local Sure Start Children’s Centre if there’s a link worker or health advocate in your area.