Our Top Tips

To help prepare you for the first few weeks with your baby, we have created a simple and easy-to-use guide of top tips that we feel are essential for all new parents to know.

Mother breastfeeding her newborn baby bo
Happy family concept. Breast feeding new

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In the first few weeks of life, your baby is very adept at giving you cues to let you know when she is hungry. Generally, in the newborn phase, if baby is awake it is most likely because they are getting ready to demand a feed! To start off with, your baby will demonstrate more subtle cues such as licking her helps, bringing her hands to her mouth, sucking on her hands and rooting - this is a reflex where your baby will automatically turn her head towards a stimulus and making sucking motions if her cheek or lip is touched. If the cures are not responded to initially, your baby will become more demanding with her request to feed - crying is usually the last resort. We recommend that you room in with your baby for the first 6 months and that you are close to you baby so that you can identify these feeding cues as early as possible as it is far more easier to feed a calm and relaxed baby compared to one that is crying and is fractious. 

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It is really important for you to keep a close eye on your baby's urine and stool output in the first few days and this can be a very useful way of assessing whether your baby is feeding well and getting what she needs. It is generally quite easy to see when baby has done a poo however if you have a particularly dirty nappy, it may be a bit trickier to identify whether the nappy is also wet. Over the last few years, most nappy brands have now designed their product to have a 'yellow line' or wetness indicator. What this means is that the line will only turn blue once your baby has passed urine which means that you can be confident in how many wees your baby has done even with a dirty nappy!

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Did you know that your breasts secrete an antimicrobial substance on and around the nipples and areolas to keep them clean? It is meant to smell like the amniotic fluid your baby was surrounded by in utero. Once the baby is out, the familiar smell helps to guide the baby to your breasts in order for her to feed. We strongly recommend that you have frequent skin-to-skin contact with your baby especially in the first 6 weeks (but you can do this for far longer) as the benefits are immense!

There have been numerous studies looking into skin-to-skin contact and the benefits which include:

  • Calms both mother and baby by reduced cortisol (stress) levels and boosting Oxytocin levels (the love hormone)

  • Helps baby to better adapt to life outside of the womb by helping them to regulate their heart rate and breathing

  • Helps baby to regulate her temperature which is super important in the first few days of life

  • Stimulates an interest in feeding and digestion

  • Stimulates the release of hormones that are important to breastfeeding and mothering (Oxytocin and Prolactin)

  • Supports baby in building her immune system through colonization of mother's friendly bacteria

Please don't forget that skin-to-skin contact is an excellent way to bond with your baby and it is not just exclusive to breastfeeding. It is equally as important for families wishing to bottle feed their baby to have frequent skin-to-skin and you can even feed your baby like this. We strongly promote that all family members have skin-to-skin contact even siblings of the baby. The more the merrier!

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Did you know that it can take approximately 7-10 days for your baby's umbilical cord to dry and fall off? within the first few days, you will notice that the cord becomes dry and stiff before becoming very dark in color. This is positive and means that the cord is on it's way to falling off soon. We advise that you leave the cord well alone and avoid using any alcohol wipes or antibiotic creams/solutions on the cord as this will slow down the process and kill the necessary good bacteria. To help accelerate the drying process, we would recommend that you leave the cord out of the nappy to allow added air circulation. You may notice some discharge coming from the base of the cord and this can be a normal part of the process - if this does occur it is perfectly fine to clean the base of the cord with a ball of clean cotton wool and cool boiled water. It is perfectly safe to handle the umbilical cord and you will not harm your baby as there are no nerve endings in the cord.

Once the cord has fallen off, you may notice a light spot of blood or a bit of discharge but this will resolve after a few days.

Please contact your midwife or GP is you notice excessive bleeding, redness, swelling, or offensive discharge from the umbilical cord or belly button.

We would advise that you wait until the cord has come off before you bathe your baby however you can do a 'top and tail' clean before this if you feel it is necessary.

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Mother's Care

1. Why does my tummy hurt when I breastfeed?

In order for your uterus to recover after birth, anytime you cuddle your baby or breastfeed, you get a surge of Oxytocin and this helps your uterus to contract down to it's pre-pregnancy state.

2. How long will I bleed for following the birth of my baby?

It can take up to 6 weeks for your bleeding to stop. This bleeding is called Lochia. In the first 48 hours, we expect that your bleeding will be as heavy as the first few days of a period however, this should gradually tailor down to minimal bleeding. Most women see a significant reduction in their bleeding after a few weeks however it is not unusual that if you have had a breastfeeding marathon or you are particlarly active following birth, that your bleeding comes back a little heavier. 

Initially, the bleeding will be a bright red colour in the first few days before changing into a dark red colour. Later, the lochia will change into a brown loss, followed by pink discharge before returning to normal off-white vaginal discharge.

We advise that you contact your maternity unit if you experience offensive smelling bleeding, heavy blood loss or large clots (bigger then a 50p coin).

3. How do I care for my Cesarean section/perineal wound?

Like anything in life, if we give our bodies the basic tools it needs to function optimally, this will aid healing. We strongly advise that you have a healthy diet, keep adequately hydrated and rest as much as possible to accelerate your healing and recovery.

For your C-section wound - you can have a shower as normal and use soap, however we advise to be careful to avoid actively applying soap to the wound (if a few soap suds do happen to get to wound, please do not worry as this is unavoidable). Make sure to rinse well with clean warm water before patting the wound dry. You can moisturize your body but again, we advise that you avoid actively applying anything on the wound.

It is a good idea to allow air to get to the wound by lying in bed and exposing the wound at least once a day.

You may find it comfortable to wear big supportive underwear that goes over the wound to avoid any friction from elastic waists rubbing along the incision. 

Regular pain relief in very important especially in the first few weeks to enable you to mobilize and care for your baby. Pain relief such as Ibuprofen can be useful as it is an anti-inflammatory medication. Taking pain relief should be subject to individualized medical advice and allergy requirements.

We strongly recommend that you contact your maternity unit as soon as possible if you notice:

- Any redness around around the wound

- Bleeding or oozing of pus

- It appears the wound is opening

- Increased pain around the wound or abdomen

For any perineal wounds, the advice is similar to caring for C-section wounds:

- Avoid soaps and creams on the perineum - just keep it clean by using warm water

- Change your pads regularly to reduce infection (remember that all bacteria likes damp, warm and dark places!)

- Use a jug or bottle of warm water whenever you pass urine or open your bowels to clean down the perineum

- Following using the toilet, gently pat your perineum down dry

- Regular use of pain relief such as paracetamol and ibuprofen - remember that this should be subject to medical advice and allergy requirements

- Regular daily pelvic floor exercises to increase muscle tone and blood supply to the perineum

- Wash hands before and after using the toilet to prevent transmitting bacteria to the perineum

4. Should I be on a special diet after I give birth to my baby?

No - we usually just advise to go back to eating like you did pre-pregnancy and keep very well hydrated. You may find that you experience constipation and we would recommended that you eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as having some prune juice to help soften your stools.

5. When can I start exercising?

The recommendation is that you wait until your 6 week check up with your GP before you commence any regular exercise however, you can do gentle exercise such as going out for a stroll with your baby as soon as you feel able to. It's important to remember to listen to you body and accept that your fitness levels may not be anywhere near to what they were pre-pregnancy.

Baby Care

1. Why is my baby more unsettled at night and more settled during the day?

This is a very common thing that parents will note about their newborn. This is because the hormone responsible for making breastmilk is highest at night and your baby is very clever and knows this. The reason she is very alert and awake at night is to increase her mother's milk supply and will want to be on and off the breast often. Therefore, after a busy night of breastfeeding and increasing your milk, the baby is more settled during the day.

2. Do I need to burp my baby?

All babies are different and some babies may be more 'windier' then others therefore will require burping. Generally speaking, because breastfeeding babies create good suction on the breast and take in less air, they as less likely to need regular burping compared to babies who are bottle fed.

3. My baby hasn't pooed for a few days - is this normal?

Yes , it can be normal for some babies to not have a bowel movements for a few days. It is important that your baby continues to feed well and pass urine frequently and is not irritable. If you baby is not irritable/unsettled and the abdomen is not distended, this is something you should not be worried about. 

However, if you are concerned, please contact your GP, midwife or health visitor for advice.

4. What temperature should my baby sleep in?

Safe sleeping recommendations advise that room temperature should be between 16-20 degrees Celsius. If you do not have a thermometer, you can judge the temperature by how comfortable you feel in the room.

5. How many layers of clothing should my baby wear?

Ideally one more layer than you. However, if you are starting to feel warm, take a layer of clothing off of your baby. Whilst it is important to keep babies warm, it is equally important to not overheat them.