During your stay on the postnatal ward, you will be supported by midwives who will assist you to develop the skills to care for your baby. This is a great opportunity to gain confidence as new parents.
When you first arrive to the postnatal ward, the midwife caring for you will discuss a plan of care for your stay including discharge planning.
Within hours of birth, you and your baby may go home if you are both well and your baby has fed. This enables you to be cared for in the comfort of your own home with supportive midwifery care provided by regular visits from the Midwifery Antenatal and Postnatal Service (MAPS)(See page 26). If you choose or need to stay in hospital, your care will be provided in the hospital’s maternity ward. For most women, pregnancy and birth is a healthy experience, which does not necessitate a long stay in hospital.
The Maternity Ward at Maitland Hospital is made up of a combination of single and double rooms. Women with more complicated postnatal stays are allocated to the single rooms as first priority. We also attempt to meet the needs of women who have private health insurance by offering a single room whenever possible. It is our goal to accommodate partners and support people to stay with you during your admission, and this may be an option if a single room is available.
It is important not to separate mothers from their babies, so mothers keep their baby at the bedside with them, 24 hours a day. The midwives will assist and provide support with all aspects of baby’s care. Please ask for assistance if required. There is also a Mother and Baby Care Board near each bed which is a very useful way to request support. We also ask that this board is used to communicate with the staff if you are leaving the ward for any reason.
Feeding your baby
The midwives caring for you are able to give assistance, support and advice with breastfeeding. If additional help is required, the midwife caring for you will make arrangements for you to meet the lactation consultant midwife.
If you are artificially feeding your baby, you will need to bring a tin of your choice of infant formula with you, to use in hospital
Support for breastfeeding your baby when you go home
Midwifery Antenatal and Postnatal Service (MAPS) midwives will provide assistance during the first few days.
Lactation service is available for women with a baby less than 4 weeks old. For appointments please telephone: 4939 2376
Child and Family Health Nursing Service also provide Breastfeeding Clinics in the community.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) provides breastfeeding support in the community. 24-hour phone number: 1800 686 268 (1800 MUM 2 MUM); while membership supports this valuable organisation, non-members can still receive support
Child and Family Health Nurse provides long-term ongoing feeding and parenting support. You will be linked to this free service before discharge from our maternity service.
Look for Who Can I Call? Contact sheet for useful phone numbers.
Routine screening for your baby
Routine screening as outlined in the NSW Health Having a Baby book will be done in the early postnatal days.
A doctor or midwife will examine your baby’s hips to check for any hip problems.
You will be offered a screening test for hearing for your baby soon after birth. About one to two babies out of every 1000 will have a significant hearing loss. This screening program is called the NSW State-wide Infant Screening Hearing program (SWISH) and is available in the postnatal ward or at your local Early Childhood and Family Centre if you go home early.
Newborn Bloodspot Screening will be done after 24 hours by your midwife.
Transport for going home
Please plan for your transport home. You will need an approved baby restraint fitted to your car. Ideally this should be in place around 34-36 weeks pregnant. The Transport NSW website can help you locate a fitting station near you.
On admission to the ward, your midwife will discuss with you your plans for discharge, our women stay for an average of 1-3 days depending on the medical and midwifery needs of you and your baby.
Discuss with your midwife your needs for discharge and ensure that you arrange on the previous evening for someone to collect you.
Community Midwifery Program (CMP)
For most women, pregnancy and birth is a healthy experience. We understand you need to share this exciting time with your family. Rather than stay in hospital after your baby is born, you may prefer to take advantage of our free Community Midwifery Program (CMP). If you are from out of area and choose to go home early, discuss your options with the midwife caring for you, alternate arrangements can be organised for you to have postnatal follow-up.
The CMP midwife will:
- visit you in the comfort of your own home giving you one-to-one advice and support
- support you with feeding your baby
- advise you on helping your baby to sleep
- support with caring for your baby, eg: bathing
- weigh your baby
- perform the routine newborn bloodspot screening test
- complete your postnatal check
- provide you with support and reassurance
- put you in contact with the Child and Family Health Nursing Service.
- you may choose to use this service directly from the Birth Suite or within a couple of days of having your baby
Mothers with babies in Special Care Nursery (SCN)
Our Special Care Nursery is a 12-bed unit next to Birth Suite located on level one that cares for premature babies from 34 weeks gestation up to term babies who are unwell. Babies in the SCN require an extra level of care which may include assistance with feeding via a nasogastric tube, blood sugar monitoring, fluids and antibiotics or respiratory support. When your baby is able to feed our SCN staff will assist you with this, including expressing breast milk. You are able to store your breast milk in a fridge within the unit.
Sometimes babies requiring care in the SCN may need a longer hospital stay than the mother. In these instances, the mother will be discharged from hospital before the baby. For women who live out of area, limited accommodation may be available this can be discussed with the midwife, nurse or social worker. Maitland Hospital also provides an area for rooming in when your baby requires more regularly feeding and is being prepared for discharge. Please ask your SCN nurse or midwife.
For local accommodation options see https://www.mymaitland.com.au/stay/
Keeping you and your baby safe while in hospital
Sometimes mothers to be and new mothers can fall while in hospital and cause injury particularly if they are tired, or if they have recently had an anaesthetic (including an epidural), pain medication or heavy bleeding or if the mum to be or new mum has other medical conditions such as low blood pressure, epilepsy or diabetes.
We request that you:
- Use your call bell if you require assistance
- Wear safe footwear at all time
- Take your time when moving about
- Use a shower chair when showering
- Use a light as required during the night time.
It’s important also to keep your baby safe from falling. We ask you to ensure that your baby:
- Is placed on their back to sleep and placed in their own cot placed next to your bed
- Is never left unattended on an adult bed or other surface from which they can fall
- Is always in their own cot while being transported. Walking around with your baby in your arms is not encouraged.
Please ensure that visitors are aware of these important factors to keep your baby safe.
WE DO NOT ENCOURAGE SLEEPING WITH YOUR BABY AS BABIES CAN FALL OR HAVE SLEEP ACCIDENTS.
We recognise that babies like to feel safe in their mum’s arms, but sometimes tired mums can fall asleep with their babies and babies can then easily fall from their mums’ hold. We ask that you avoid all these situations that place your baby at risk of falls.
REMEMBER the safe sleeping SIDS prevention = Baby on back, in own bed, feet at end of cot, smoke free environment, no hats or bonnets, and breastfeed your baby.
After birth care
It is possible to fall pregnant immediately after giving birth even if you are breastfeeding.
If you do not desire to fall pregnant then consider using barrier contraception (condoms). You may resume sexual activity as soon as you feel comfortable. You may need to wait longer if you had a vaginal birth requiring stitches, or a caesarean birth.
If you are breastfeeding then it is important not to start the combined oral contraceptive pill as it may affect your milk supply. Your options will include progesterone-only pills (the mini pill), a progesterone implant or progesterone injection given every third month.
Ask your GP for more information at your six-week appointment.
If you are feeling unwell please contact your GP or local Maternity Service.
General signs of infection include:
- Discharge that may have an unpleasant odour
- Area may be hot to touch
If you are breastfeeding and find painful areas that are red and lumpy you may have blocked milk ducts or be developing mastitis (infection of the milk ducts).
In this case you should to see your GP as soon as possible, however keep breastfeeding/expressing for until your appointment time as it may help to relieve the blockage.
Postnatal follow up with your GP
We recommend that you and your baby visit your local GP within six weeks after birth.
A full complete postnatal review should be attended at this appointment which may include:
- Your baby should have a complete routine head-to-toe check up
- Discuss contraception with you GP
- Have a plan when your next pap smear is due
- Discuss current medications and follow-up scripts required
- Have perineal suturing reviewed or Caesarean wound check
- Discuss any discomforts that you may be experiencing including incontinence
- Discuss your emotional well being
- Blood tests (as required)
- Breast check
- Blood pressure
- Pap smear
- Perineal stitches or caesarean section wound
- Discuss any incontinence you may be experiencing
- Emotional well being