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Looking After You and Your Baby

Looking After You and Your Baby

Washing your hands

Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from illness, which is especially important when caring for a new baby. Visit the NHS “How to wash your hands” web page to watch a short video on the best way to wash your hands.

Care of your stitches and pelvic floor exercises

If you have stitches after your baby’s birth it is important to keep them clean and dry and watch out for any increase in redness, swelling or pain. This will reduce your risk of developing an infection or catch it early. The NHS “How should I care for my stitches” web page is full of really useful information to help you stay comfortable after the birth of your baby.

Pelvic floor exercises strengthen the muscles around your bladder, vagina and back passage, which is especially important during pregnancy and the birth of your baby. For details of how to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, and tips on exercising during pregnancy, visit the NHS “Pelvic floor exercises” web page.


Recognising signs of infection

  • Heavier than normal blood loss
  • Smelly blood loss
  • Redness around wound
  • Increased pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Very low body temperature
  • Passing urine less than normal
  • Rapid pulse
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

If you have any off these symptoms call NHS 111.

Looking after your caesarean section wound

You'll usually be advised to:

  • leave your dressing on until day 5 to try to keep the wound dry
  • wear loose, comfortable clothes and cotton underwear
  • take a painkiller if the wound is sore
  • watch out for signs of infection

Your midwife will know if you have stitches or staples that need removing and will discuss this with you after your baby is born.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

A Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a vein, usually the leg.

After the birth of your baby, your midwife will have completed a risk assessment to see if you are a greater risk of having a DVT. If you have an increased risk you will be sent home with medication to reduce this risk.

To reduce the risk of DVT, it is important that you remain mobile, hydrated and look out for any signs of DVT - for details of these visit the NHS DVT (deep vein thrombosis) web page.

Bleeding after birth

After the birth of your baby you will bleed from your vagina, which may be quite heavy at first, so you'll need to use super-absorbent sanitary towels which should be changed regularly, washing your hands before and afterwards.

Avoid using tampons until after your 6 week postnatal check, as they could increase your chance of getting an infection.

You may notice the bleeding is redder and heavier when you breastfeed, this is because breastfeeding hormones work to contract your womb back to its original size, reducing the risk of anaemia. During this time you may also feel cramps similar to period pains.

You may not realise that breastfeeding your baby helps to suppress ovulation, delaying the return of your periods, which also helps to restore the normal iron levels in your blood.

The bleeding will carry on for a few weeks, gradually turning a brownish colour. It will slowly decrease until it finally stops, but it should never be smelly. If you lose any blood in large clots you need to tell your midwife, as it may mean you need some treatment.

Hand expression for breast care

As a new mother, you may notice some changes in your breasts after the birth of your baby. A few days after baby is born, they may feel a little harder and fuller than usual, before returning to their normal size and softness a few days or weeks later.

If your breasts ever feel over-full and uncomfortable, it can be helpful to use some warmth, gentle massage and hand expression until you feel comfortable again. Our “Expressing your breastmilk” web page gives you all the information you need about hand expressing, which is a very useful skill for all new mothers to learn.

Checking your breasts regularly

Like all women, new mothers need to check their breasts regularly so you know how your breasts usually look and feel, meaning you can spot any changes quickly and report them to your GP. The NHS “How should I check my breasts?” web page provides full details to guide you.

Looking after your mental health

Postnatal depression - a type of depression that some parents experience after having a baby - can affect parents in different ways, and may develop suddenly or gradually.

It can affect more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth, as well as fathers and partners too.

For information about postnatal depression - and the differences between feeling a bit down, tearful or anxious in the first week after giving birth, often called the "baby blues" – visit the NHS “Postnatal depression” web page, which includes details of common symptoms, spotting the signs in others and related conditions.

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust “Mental Health Information Resources” web page also contains information for adults and children, with links to services who can support patients and carers in the community.

Infant crying and how to cope

Bringing a new baby home for the first time can leave parents feeling bewildered and anxious, and when babies cry it can be upsetting and frustrating. The ICON websiteincludes information to support parents/care givers to cope with infant crying, including a really helpful downloadable leaflet entitled “ Infant crying and how to cope”. 

For more information about what it means when baby cries and how to feel less stressed when they do, visit our 'Getting to know your baby' webpage.

Changing your baby’s nappy

Until we have our own baby, not many of us have experience of changing a baby’s nappy, so it might take a while to get the hang of this new skill. The NHS “How to change your baby's nappy” website includes lots of really helpful information, including what you need for nappy changing, where to change a nappy, how to change a nappy, nappy hygiene and about baby’s poo.

Washing and bathing your baby

Babies don't need bathing every day. Instead, you may prefer to simply wash their face, neck, hands and bottom instead - often called "topping and tailing". You'll need a bowl of warm water, a towel, cotton wool, a fresh nappy and, if necessary, clean clothes. You won’t need any liquid cleansers to clean or bathe your baby - plain water is best for your baby's delicate skin for at least the first month. The NHS “Washing and bathing your baby” web page will give you all the information you need, including a useful video to help you.

Recognising signs of illness in your baby

The STORK Programme website and mobile phone app provides information on topics such as basic life support for your baby, how to help a baby who is choking and recognising signs of illness, so that parents and carers of new-born babies know how to look after their baby’s health.

The NHS Illness In Newborn Babies leaflet will help you to know how to keep your baby safe and healthy, as it includes information on early signs of jaundice in the newborn baby, and how many times your baby should feed and have a wet or dirty nappy in the first few days. If your baby has signs of jaundice it is important to contact your maternity department by calling 01902 694035, who will perform a painless and quick bilirubin test.

Health visiting, school nursing, and the Partnering Families Team (PFT)

Wolverhampton’s “0-19 Service” for pregnant women, children and young people from the age of 0 to 19 and their families, provides services including health visiting, school nursing, and the Partnering Families Team (PFT). Their aims are health promotion, health protection, prevention of ill health and accidents and early intervention, and their website gives details their various services, and how to access them.

Keeping your home smoke free

Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for you and your family’s health, and keeping your home smoke free is even more important during pregnancy and after your baby is born. Wolverhampton Information Network’s “Be Smoke Free” web page details the benefits of giving up smoking and helps you to plan to stop smoking.

Protecting your baby from tobacco smoke during pregnancy is especially important, as every cigarette you smoke can restrict the essential oxygen supply to your baby. For information and support see the NHS “Stop smoking in pregnancy” web page, to help you quit during this especially important time.

Registering the birth of your baby

For information about registering your baby’s birth see the City of Wolverhampton's Register a Birth web page.

Registering your baby with a GP

It’s a good idea to register your baby with your GP as early as possible in case you need their help - telephone your GP practice or visit their website to find out how.

Having a smear test

If you are due for a cervical screening test while pregnant, this should be rescheduled for 12 weeks after the birth. Being a new mother can be a very busy time, but it is very important that you do find the time to reschedule your appointment, so please contact your GP.

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