Going home

Some women say that it was only when they got home that they realised that the baby was really theirs.  It’s a big responsibility, but help is at hand.

Getting home safely

If you’re being driven home, your baby will need a car safety seat, suitable for his age.  It is a legal requirement in NZ to have baby in an approved car safety seat.

Continuing care

Your LMC will visit you at home or from the local maternity unit.  At each visit, your LMC will examine your abdomen, to make sure that your uterus is returning to normal, your stitches, to check that they are healing well, and your legs, to check for blood clots.  She may also check your temperature and blood pressure regularly.  She may ask about your blood loss, how your breasts feel, and if you are opening your bowels and urinating regularly.  (No wonder we have no modesty left after having a baby!)  All these physical things do need checking just in case there is a problem.

At four to six weeks your Well Child provider/Tamariki or a nurse/Plunket take over care and support from the LMC.  She will also visit you, check your baby’s health and development, and introduce you to the baby clinic, where you can go to have your baby checked and weighed.  You can also encourage your partner to get involved in the baby’s care as much as possible.  Let him learn how to do things for himself and give him time to get to know his baby through those everyday tasks.

Twins or more?

Caring for one child is daunting enough …. having two or more at the same time can be a real drain on your energies.  Midwives will help you find a comfortable breastfeeding position and routine, but you would also benefit from extra help – who can you ask to give a hand?  If you’re alone, or your partner can’t help out much, make the babies your priority.  Keeping the house sparkling clean can wait.

Up and down

Once you return home with your baby, your fellings may yo-yo from on a high, delighted to have your baby, to feeling tired, sore, tired and tearful.  This is very normal and most new mothers find these first days and weeks both exhilarating and difficult.  It’s a big change in your life, both physical and emotional, and takes some getting used to.  Try to give yourself some time, deal with the physical problems and gradually things will settle down.  Your LMC or Plunket nurse will be able to help.  If you find your mood swings do not settle, see your doctor.  A few women develop postnatal depression in the weeks after birth.  If this happens to you, ask for help – don’t struggle on alone, there are organisations that can be a lifelife (see Who can help?).

Feeling blue

The level of pregnancy hormones in your body drops off rapidly in the few days after the birth.  It’s so common for women to break down in tears on about the third or fourth day after the birth, that it’s known as the ‘third day blues’ or ‘baby blues’.  You may feel low, but this is not postnatal depression – that’s much more lasting.  It’s a temporary reaction to hormone changes.  No matter how much you have been looking forward to this time, you may feel a huge sense of anticlimax.  You may simply feel too tired to get very excited, or overwhelmed by it all.  Don’t worry – ‘bonding’ with a new baby isn’t an instant process for everyone.  The more you touch and hold him, the better you’ll know him, and love will gradually grow.

Postnatal depression

Pre birth if you can, nominate one or two advocates, friends, people who know you well, who could look out for you and who could verbalise if they were concerned should you develop any of the PND signs or symptoms.

Safe as houses?

Make sure your house is as safe as possible before you bring your newborn home.

  • put in smoke detectors
  • keep a fire extinguisher in the house
  • put in carbon monoxide detectors if you use gas or oil heating
  • put together a first-aid kit and consider taking a baby first-aid course
  • pin up emergency telephhone numbers next to your telephone
  • put non-slip pads under rugs that don’t have non-slip backs
  • set your water heater to 50C to avoid scalds
  • protect your baby from secondhand smoke – make your home (and car) smokefree.  If you do smoke, make a commitment to only smoke outside and never smoke around children.  Smokefree signage is available from your Public Health Unit.