Toggle site contrast Toggle Contract

Postnatal information – what to expect and what to do after the birth of your baby

Read our guide below to help you understand what you need to and what to expect after the birth of your baby.

You can also download a PDF version of this patient information by following the link on the right.

Congratulations on the birth of your baby!

Registering the birth

You’ll need to make an apointment to register the birth of your baby.

It’s a legal requirement to register the birth as soon as possible.

You have 42 days from the date of your baby’s birth to register.

Who needs to attend the birth registration appointment?

If you’re married, only 1 parent needs to attend and sign the register. But both parents can attend if you want to.

Bring your baby’s red book to the appointment which you’ll have after the birth.

Where are my local birth registration offices?

You can search online using your postcode to find your nearest register office. If you don’t have internet access call 01296 395000.

Certificates cost £11. You’ll need a full birth certificate to apply for a passport.

Midwife visits and routine appointments

The community midwife will visit you the day after you get home from hospital between 8.30am and 5.30pm. Unfortunately, they can’t give you a specific time.

If you need to go out when there’s a planned visit, call the community midwives’ office to let them know. After this initial contact they’ll discuss with you your next appointment, normally held at a postnatal clinic.

At each visit, the midwife will talk to you about any physical or emotional problems or, if you have any concerns with the baby. Your midwife will treat any concerns appropriately or refer you to someone who can help.

Maternity support workers do some visits especially if you need extra support with breastfeeding.

What happens and when at each appointment

First midwife contact

Day 5

Transfer of care

The day after discharge from hospital

Newborn blood spot screening and baby weighing.

Discharged from maternity services and transfer to health visitor if appropriate.

We may offer you an appointment to attend one of the postnatal clinics instead of waiting at home for the midwife to come to you.

Contact numbers for midwife visits

Aylesbury Community Midwives Office

01296 316120

Wycombe Community Midwives Office

01494 425172

Other useful numbers

Labour Ward, Stoke Mandeville Hospital

01296 316103

Milton Keynes Labour Ward

01908 996478

Wexham Park Hospital Labour Ward

0300 615 4521

Frimley Park Hospital Labour Ward

0300 6134527

John Radcliffe Hospital

01865 220221

Healing from a vaginal birth

If you have had stitches after tearing or an episiotomy (cut), bathe them every day to help prevent infection. Have a bath or shower with plain warm water then carefully pat yourself dry.  Stitches usually dissolve by the time the cut or tear has healed.

Painkillers can help. If you’re breastfeeding, check with your pharmacist, midwife or GP before you buy over-the-counter painkillers.

If you’ve had stitches it’s very unlikely or rare for stitches to become undone.

Going to the toilet

At first, the thought of passing urine can be a bit frightening because of the soreness. Drinking lots of water dilutes your urine which may make it sting less.

Tell your midwife if you:

  • find it really difficult to pass urine
  • feel very sore
  • notice an unpleasant smell.

You probably won’t have a bowel movement/poo for a few days after the birth, but it’s important not to let yourself get constipated.  It might feel better if you hold a pad of clean tissue over the stitches when pooing. Try not to strain.

Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, salad, wholegrain cereals and wholemeal bread. Also drink plenty of water.

Bladder control

After having a baby it’s quite common to leak a bit of urine if you laugh, cough or move suddenly.

Pelvic floor exercises can help but tell your GP at your postnatal check if you still have a problem.

Piles are very common after birth but usually disappear within a few days.

Healing from a c-section

We’ll tell you to:

  • gently clean and dry the wound every day
  • wear loose, comfortable clothes and cotton underwear
  • take a painkiller if the wound feels sore. For most women, it’s better to take paracetamol or ibuprofen (but not aspirin) while you’re breastfeeding.

Contact maternity triage if you have:

  • a high or persistant fever
  • trouble breathing
  • abnormal drainage
  • excessive vaginal bleeding
  • severe or persistant pain.

Most women have some discomfort for the first few days after a caesarean. For others, the pain can last several weeks.

Try to stay mobile and do gentle activities such as going for a daily walk while you’re recovering to reduce the risk of blood clots. Be careful not to overexert yourself.

You may not be able to do some activities straight away such as:

  • driving
  • exercising
  • carrying anything heavier than your baby
  • having sex.

Only start to do these things again when you feel able and don’t find them uncomfortable. This may not be for 6 weeks or longer.

Bleeding after birth (lochia)

You’ll bleed from your vagina after the birth. It will be quite heavy at first and you’ll need super-absorbent sanitary towels, not tampons. Change them regularly, washing your hands before and afterwards.

Don’t use tampons until after your 6-week postnatal check because they could increase your chance of getting an infection.

You may notice the bleeding is redder and heavier when you breastfeed. This happens because breastfeeding makes your womb contract. You may also feel cramps similar to period pains.

The bleeding will carry on for a few weeks. It will gradually turn a brownish colour and decrease until it finally stops.

If you’re losing blood in large clots call maternity triage. If the bleeding is heavy and not stopping call 999.

You can get pregnant as little as 3 weeks after the birth of your baby even if you’re breastfeeding and your periods haven’t started again yet.

Diagram showing postnatal bleeding amounts after giving birth

Soothing a crying baby

All babies cry, some more than others. Crying is your baby’s way of telling you they need comfort and care.

Sometimes it’s easy to work out what they want and sometimes it isn’t. The most common reasons for crying include:

  • hunger
  • wind
  • a dirty or wet nappy
  • being too hot or too cold
  • tiredness
  • boredom
  • wanting a cuddle
  • overstimulation.

There may be times of the day when your baby tends to cry a lot and can’t be comforted. Early evening is the most common time for this to happen.  This can be hard for you, as it’s often the time when you feel most tired and less able to cope.

How to calm a crying baby

You could:

  • talk calmly, hum or sing to your baby
  • let them hear a repeating or soothing sound
  • hold them close skin to skin
  • go for a walk outside with your baby
  • give them a warm bath.

These techniques may not always work. It may take a combination or more than one attempt to soothe your baby.

If you need help

CRY-SIS National Help Line

08451 228669. Lines open 7 days a week, 9am to 10pm.

If you think your baby may be unwell, contact your GP or call NHS 111.  In an emergency, call 999.

You can also visit the CRY-SIS website.

Visit ICON’s website for help and support to soothe a crying baby.

Safe sleeping and symptoms of an unwell baby

An unwell baby can become seriously ill very quickly. You know your baby best. Don’t wait too long if you’re worried.

Follow the signs and advice on the NHS website to help indicate if your baby is seriously ill.

Call your GP or midwife if:

  • you’re worried about the umbilical cord
  • you have feeding concerns
  • your baby has a stuffy nose
  • your baby is constipated or their poo is an unusual colour.

Call 999 if your baby:

  • has a fit or convulsion
  • has a rash that doesn’t fade when you press it
  • stops breathing or goes blue.

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Also known as cot death, it’s the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby. SIDS is rare but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk for your baby.

Place your baby to sleep in a clear, safe sleeping space. For example, a separate cot or moses basket in the same room with you for the first 6 months.

You should also:

  • use a firm, flat mattress with no cushions, pillows, quilts or duvets or bumpers
  • never use any pods, nests or sleep positioners
  • always place your baby on their back for every sleep.

Find out more about safe sleeping and bed sharing.

Keeping your baby safe

Your baby may have jaundice which causes yellowing of the skin and/or the whites of the eyes. It’s common and usually harmless.

Contact your midwife if your baby doesn’t:

  • wake for feeds and doesn’t feed well when offered
  • suck strongly and needs constant prompting
  • have periods of being awake and robust, shows hunger cues, rooting and interest in their surroundings.

Risks of smoking

Babies are at risk of passive smoking if they’re around those who smoke. Don’t smoke or allow others to smoke around your baby.

If your baby is exposed to smoke, they’re more likely to develop illnesses such as:

  • asthma
  • chest infections – such as bronchiolitis
  • meningitis
  • ear infections
  • coughs and colds.

They’re also at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

The best way to protect your baby is to stop smoking. If you need to smoke do it outside.  Keep your baby away from smoky areas and wash your hands after each cigarette.

Although e-cigarettes are safer there’s no evidence yet about the long-term effects on babies. Follow the same advice as for cigarettes.

Use of car seats

It’s the law to use a car seat for your baby when travelling. Rear facing car seats are the safest for newborn babies as they offer protection for their head, neck and spine.

There’s no evidence that states how long a baby should stay in the car seat but we recommend a period of no longer than 2 hours. This is to make sure your baby hasn’t slumped, potentially affecting their breathing.

If possible, an adult should travel in the back seat to make sure the baby is safe.

Babies can become overheated in a car seat. To help stop this you should:

  • use a window shield in hot weather to prevent direct sun through the car window. Direct heat can overheat the baby and also burn their skin
  • never use thick jumpers or coats when putting the baby in a car seat.  It’s too hot for them and makes the seatbelt too loose and not effective during a collision
  • make frequent stops during long journeys to take the baby out of the car seat.  Use a pram to place them flat on the mattress to allow room to stretch and move around.

Birth reflections

It’s a midwife-led listening and debriefing service for people who have given birth at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. It provides you with an opportunity to:

  • look back on your birth experience
  • explore the care you received during labour, birth or immediately after your baby was born
  • ask any previously unanswered questions.

We suggest waiting up to a month after the delivery to give yourself time to process what happened. We can offer you an appointment up to a year after the birth.

Book an appointment by completing our online referral form.

Birth reflections isn’t a complaints service. If you’re unhappy with the care you received email or call 01296 831120.

Useful information

Links to pages on our website as well as supporting organisations.

How can I help reduce healthcare associated infections?

Infection prevention and control is important to the wellbeing of our patients so we have procedures in place. Keeping your hands clean is an effective way of preventing the spread of infections.

You, and anyone visiting you, must use the hand sanitiser available at the entrance to every ward before coming in and after you leave. You may need to wash your hands at the sink using soap and water. Hand sanitisers are not suitable for dealing with patients who have symptoms of diarrhoea.


About our patient information

This is intended as general information only. We aim to make the information as up to date and accurate as possible, but it’s subject to change.

Always check specific advice on any concerns you may have with your doctor.