After birth your baby will be examined by a midwife, neonatal nurse or paediatrician. They will be weighed, measured and given a wrist or ankle band with your name on.
If you have had a vaginal birth, you may need stitches. This can usually be done while you cuddle your baby.
Your midwife or maternity support worker will help you to wash and freshen up before you go to the postnatal ward.
If you have had a caesarean section or had an instrumental birth in theatre you will go to a recovery area first.
What to expect
Your recovery will depend on the type of birth you had.
After a vaginal birth it is likely that you will feel sore for a few days, but you should feel able to resume normal activity quickly. You may choose to stay on the postnatal ward to recover and have additional support after your baby is born. Some people only stay a few hours before they feel ready to go home, others stay for a day or two.
If you have had a caesarean, you will need to recover from the anaesthetic and may still have a catheter for the first few hours. We will encourage you to get up and move around as early as you possible after your anaesthetic has worn off. Most people will have a straightforward recovery following their C-section and can go home within 48 hours. If you have had an emergency caesarean, you will usually stay on the ward for at least 2 days.
Changes to your body
You’ll bleed from your vagina after the birth, even if you had a C-section. It will be quite heavy at first, and you’ll need to use super-absorbent sanitary towels. It may also hurt to go to the toilet. It’s important to drink lots of water to keep your urine diluted and to stop you getting constipated.
Your breasts will start to produce milk and may feel tender as your milk ‘comes in’.
Having a new baby can feel overwhelming, especially when you are already tired from the birth. It’s normal to suffer the ‘baby blues’ 3-4 days after birth. Please talk to us if you are worried.
We will look after you and help you to bond with your baby and get feeding started. We will also give you pain relief if needed.
Our postnatal wards
- Royal Sussex County Hospital: Level 12, Postnatal ward
- Princess Royal Hospital: Bolney ward
- Worthing Hospital: Bramber ward
- St Richard’s Hospital: Tangmere ward
We allow visitors once you are on the postnatal ward. Please ensure that your relatives are aware of the visiting times, so they don’t have a wasted journey to the hospital.
We are currently unable to allow partners to stay overnight.
We serve three meals a day.
Breakfast is usually buffet style so you can help yourself. If you are unable to get out of bed someone will bring your breakfast to you.
We will come round before lunch and dinner to share your food choices. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements.
We also have snack boxes and fruit available if you feel hungry between meals or if you miss your hot meal. Please just ask one of the midwifery team.
Hot drinks are served mid-afternoon and mid-evening. There is a hot drinks trolley if you would like to help yourself at any other time. Please note that the drinks are free for our patients, but we ask that visitors make a small contribution.
We have wi-fi in our hospitals and you are welcome to use your mobile phone. Please respect other people on the ward, who may be trying to sleep and turn the ring tone to silent.
Discharge from hospital
Your length of stay on the postnatal ward will be dependent on the type of birth you had and how well you and your baby are.
All babies need a newborn check before going home. This is done by a paediatrician, a senior nurse or midwife who is qualified to perform the check.
We also advise that all babies have their hearing screened on the ward before going home.
Once you and your baby are ready to go home from hospital the midwife will arrange your discharge. This process may take some time depending on your needs and the workload on the ward. We will do our best to get you home as soon as possible, but it is likely that this will be in the afternoon.
Remember to bring in a car seat to take your baby home!
If you have any concerns about your health or that of your baby, please speak to a member of your healthcare team. We are here to help!