The Maternity Ward
There are 25 beds on the ward, and you may come here before or after you have had your baby. There are midwives, nurses, maternity support workers and nursery nurses here to support and care for you and your baby. You may also see a doctor for additional care whilst on the ward. There are call bells next to every bed for you to call a member of staff for help. The midwives will facilitate regular medication rounds to ensure that you have access to regular pain relief. If you require pain relief outside of the medication round, please speak to your midwife.
Visiting hours are from 0800 – 2000. You can have two named visitors who can visit you during these hours on the ward. Only one of these can be on the ward at any time.
Meal times: hot and cold meals are provided for service users at any time of the day (including outside of usual mealtimes). There is also a variety of hot and cold drinks and snacks available 24 hours a day. The maternity support workers will provide you with menu options for you to choose your meals in advance.
Once you have been discharged from hospital (or after the midwives have left following your homebirth), a community midwife or a maternity support worker will visit you at home to provide support and care for both you and your baby.
► Safe sleeping
New babies have a strong desire to be close to you after birth as this will help them to feel secure and loved. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a sudden and unexpected death of a baby where no cause is found.
While SIDS is rare, it can still happen and there are steps parents can take to reduce the risk of it happening. These include:
- placing your baby on their back to sleep, in a cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months
- not smoking in pregnancy or letting anyone smoke in the same room as your baby
- not sharing a bed with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol, taken drugs or if you are a smoker
- never sleeping with your baby on the sofa or armchair
- not letting your baby get too hot or too cold and keeping your baby’s head uncovered
- placing your baby in the ‘feet to foot’ position
- breastfeeding your baby
- having your baby immunised can help reduce the risk of SIDS
- seeking medical help if your baby is ill
Every new parent needs some essentials for their new baby. In the early days, you will need clothes and nappies. It may be advisable not to get too many until after your baby is born, so that you know what size to buy. You need something for your baby to sleep in such as cot or Moses basket. If you have a car, you must have a car seat and your baby must travel in their seat. Think about other ways of carrying your baby when you are out, such as baby carriers or a sling, pram or pushchair.
► Newborn screening
After birth, your baby will be offered some screening tests. The blood spot test is designed to identify those few babies who may be affected by PKU, cystic fibrosis, congenital hypothyriodism, MCADD, MSUD, HCU, IVA, GA1 and haemoglobinopathy disorders. Two detailed examinations of the baby will be performed, one within 72 hours of the birth and one is when your baby is 6-8 weeks old. These check your baby’s eyes, heart and lungs, nervous system, abdomen, hips and testes (in boys). The hearing test is designed to find babies who have a hearing loss. Your Midwife will give you a leaflet explaining these screening tests. For further information visit www.screening.nhs.uk/annbpublications.
► Vitamin K
We need vitamin K to make our blood clot properly so we do not bleed easily. To reduce the risk of a bleeding disorder, your baby should be offered vitamin K after birth. The most effective way of giving this is by an injection (oral doses may be an option).
This is a vaccine offered to all babies who may be a higher than average risk of contracting TB (tuberculosis). These include babies whose families come from countries with a high incidence of TB such as Asia, Africa, South and Central America and Eastern Europe or babies born in a town or city where there is a high rate of TB. It is also offered to babies who have a relative or close contact with TB, have a family history of TB in the past 5 years or who plan to travel to a high-risk country to stay for more than three months. TB is a potentially serious infection which is usually given to the baby early in the postnatal period, but in some circumstances, it may be delayed. Some maternal medical conditions or specific medications taken in pregnancy can affect the immune system of the baby. In these instances, the vaccination should be delayed for about 6 months after the baby is born. Please discuss this with your Midwife if you think this may apply to your baby. Further information can be found in the leaflet ‘TB, BCG vaccine and your baby’.
► Hepatitis B
Some people carry the hepatitis B virus in their blood without having the disease itself. If a pregnant mother has or carries hepatitis B, or catches it during pregnancy, she can pass it onto her unborn baby. Babies born to infected mothers are at risk of getting this infection and should receive a course of vaccine and a test at twelve months to exclude infection. The first immunisation will be offered soon after birth and then at one, two, three, four and twelve months.
► Connecting with your baby
Taking time out to being to develop a relationship with your unborn baby will have a positive impact on your baby’s wellbeing and help their brain to grow. You can begin to connect through talking or singing to your baby bump and noticing when your baby has a pattern of movements. It is lovely to include your partner and/or other children too.
► Greeting your baby for the first time
Holding your baby in skin-to-skin contact soon after birth is the perfect way to say hello. Skin contact will help you both to feel calm, give you time to rest, keep warm and get to know each other. As your baby recognises your voice and smell, they will begin to feel safe and secure. Take time to notice the different stages your baby goes through to get ready for their first feed.
► Responding to your baby’s needs
New babies have a strong desire to be close to their parents as this will help them to feel secure and loved. When babies feel secure they release a hormone called oxytocin which helps their brain to grow and develop. If you are breastfeeding you can offer your baby your breast when he/she shows sign of wanting to feed, when they just want a cuddle, if you need to fit in a quick feed or if you want to sit down and have a rest. If you choose to bottle feed, your baby will enjoy being held close, and fed by you and your partner rather than by lots of different people.
► Feeding your baby
You may already have some thoughts about how you will feed your baby, based on previous experience or what other have told you. However, you do not have to decide until after your baby is born. Breastfeeding provides everything your baby needs to grow and develop. It also helps protect and comfort your baby. Your Midwife will be happy to talk to you about this. Further information can be found at: www.bestbeginning.org.uk. If you decide to use formula milk to feed your baby, your Midwife will give you information about how to hold your baby for feeding and how to make up feeds safely.
You need to start contraception from 3 weeks after the birth. Do not wait for your periods to return or until you have had your postnatal check-up before you use contraception. Longer lasting methods e.g. Depo injection, implant and IUD/IUS (coil) are effective because you don not have to remember to take pills or do any preparation before you have sex and they are safe to use if you are breastfeeding. A coil can be fitted at the time of a planned caesarean section, if this is something you are interested in having, speak to your Midwife or Obstetrician about it.