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The Midwife

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.