The day after you leave hospital you’ll get a visit from a community midwife. She
will probably turn up unannounced, but don’t worry about tidying the house or even
getting dressed - she’s there to help and won’t judge you.
The midwife will feel your tummy to make sure that your womb is contracting, and
then take your pulse, blood pressure and temperature to rule out infection and problems
from the birth.
She will ask how you are feeling both physically and emotionally and make sure there
are no problems with your breasts, whether or not you are breastfeeding. The midwife
will also check your pad to make sure that any blood loss is normal and look at your
legs to rule out blood clots, and finally she will check your stitches if you had
them. She’ll also answer all your questions and give any baby care help that she
can – for example with breastfeeding.
As well as making sure that you are ok, your midwife will check your baby. She’ll
weigh him, look at his cord stump, check the colour of his skin to rule out jaundice,
and take his temperature.
Your midwife will also give your baby a heel prick (Guthrie) test. This involves
taking a blood sample from his heel which makes him cry briefly. The blood is tested
for phenylketonuria - a rare, serious metabolic disorder - and hypothyroidism, which
happens when there are low levels of thyroid hormone.
Both of these conditions are straightforward to treat, but lead to serious developmental
problems if treated late or left untreated. If you don't hear the results of this
test within a couple of weeks don't worry, it means your baby is clear – some areas
only notify mums if there is a problem.
If you had a home birth, then your midwife will disappear a few hours after the birth.
But she’ll be back again later that day or the next when you’ll also get a visit
from your GP to check your baby over.
Whether you had a home or hospital birth, your midwife will continue to visit for
the next 10 days, probably every other day. And she’ll leave you a 24-hour telephone
number so that you never feel completely on your own. It’s natural to have dozens
of worries this week, so don’t hold back in speaking to your midwife however petty
you think your concern may sound.