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Going home

Depending on the type of birth you have and if both you and your baby are well, you can go home between 2 and 24 hours after the birth.

So that you can get home with the least amount of delay, please make sure that you plan ahead: 

  • arrange for someone to pick you up from the hospital by car (make sure you have a car seat for the baby)
  • where possible have help available to you at home
  • ensure that you have everything ready for you and your baby
  • make sure you have some paracetamol and/or ibuprofen in your medicine cabinet at home

Planning ahead will give you more time to rest and care for your baby once home.

You will be given a set of postnatal notes to take home, with information about your labour, delivery and postnatal care in hospital. The midwife who visits you at home after you leave the hospital will refer to them when planning your care.

You will also be given two envelopes containing copies of your delivery and discharge information. One is for your GP; we ask that you hand deliver this to your GP surgery within 24 hours. The other is for your health visitor; please keep this letter at home until your health visitor visits. They will be in contact with you in the next week to ten days.

The hospital staff will let your community midwife know when you are going home.

The following list of symptoms has been written to guide you; this will be discussed with you by your midwife within 24 hours of your baby’s birth.

Immediate action required: Emergency action

See a doctor urgently (consider calling 999 for an ambulance).

If you experience any of the following:

  • sudden or profuse blood loss, particularly if feeling dizzy as well
  • fever, shivering and abdominal pain especially if combined with offensive vaginal loss
  • severe or persistent headache
  • shortness of breath or chest pain
  • calf pain with redness or swelling
  • widespread rash
  • severe depression, severe anxiety and panic, restlessness, disorientation, confused and disturbed thoughts, suicidal thoughts or desire to hurt others (particularly if you have a history of mental illness) 

Or you are concerned that your baby:

  • is limp and lethargic
  • is unresponsive
  • is floppy
  • has abnormal breathing (faster than usual or grunting)
  • has blue lips
  • has a fit
  • has got visible jaundice (orange-yellow colour of the skin) in the first 24 hours of life, or severe jaundice after 24 hours
  • has not passed meconium (baby's first stool) or urine in the first 24 hours of life
  • has a rash that does not fade when pressed with a glass
  • vomits green fluid
  • has a bulging or very depressed fontanelle
  • ​has a temperature higher than 38°C
  • has passed blood in the stools
  • feeding less than usual / nappies much less wet than usual
  • with the exception of hands and feet, feels cold when dressed appropriately for the environment temperature

Urgent advice: Urgent action

Call your community midwife, Clinic 23, or NHS Direct for advice, or see your GP within 24 hours

If you experience any of the following:

  • fever, shivering, abdominal pain and/or vaginal discharge that looks or smells unpleasant
  • severe perineal pain (area between vagina and anus)
  • severe haemorrhoid (piles) pain
  • problems passing urine or faeces, particularly if you are unable to get to the toilet in time or have incontinence
  • unable to pass any urine within six hours of the birth
  • 'baby blues' not resolving after two weeks
  • mastitis lasting more than a few hours
  • severe breastfeeding difficulties

Or you are concerned that your baby:

  • is sleepy and not feeding well
  • has jaundice starting after 7 days or lasting longer than 14 days
  • has constipation (if bottle fed) or diarrhoea
  • has got redness around the umbilicus (cord area)
  • is excessively and inconsolably crying

It is important that these problems are discussed with your midwife or GP and that your baby is seen on the same day. 

Non-urgent advice: Non-urgent action

Call your community midwife for advice, ‘wait and see’ whilst taking simple measures, or see your GP

If you experience any of the following:

  • painful sex
  • perineal pain/discomfort
  • haemorrhoids
  • headache or backache
  • persistent fatigue
  • constipation
  • cracked or painful nipples
  • engorged breasts or inadequate breast milk supply

Or you are concerned that your baby:

  • has mild jaundice (orange-yellow skin) when the baby is feeding well and not sleepy
  • has any jaundice after 14 days of age if a term baby (delivered after 37 weeks) or 21 days if a preterm baby (delivered before 37 weeks)
  • has got thrush
  • has blood in the nappy
  • has nappy rash