Bringing your baby home from hospital
When you and your baby (or babies) arrive home from hospital or the birth centre it’s a happy and exciting time, but you may also feel tired and overwhelmed.
You may have already started to prepare for life with a newborn, by setting up the nursery.
If you are first-time parents, it can be a big challenge at first. It can also be a big change if you have other children in your family. But there is support and services available to help you during this special time.
It’s important to be kind to yourself as you recover from birth and get to know your baby. This article will provide you with advice and resources to help you.
You can also ask for help from your family and friends.
How will we survive without round-the-clock care?
Many people spend a couple of days in hospital where the midwives and hospital staff can help you with feeding, settling, bathing and nappy changing. This may also give you a chance to get some sleep and help in your recovery.
Sometimes you may be discharged from hospital early. In some cases on the same day that you have your baby. You will need some time to recover from giving birth, and you may feel sore and tired. Make sure you rest as much as you can.
If you are on your own, ask a close relative or friend to spend a few days with you to help out while you find your feet.
If you have a partner, make sure you support each other as much as possible. Partners can help by doing nappy changes, settling baby and preparing meals.
Some people like lots of family and friends around in the first few days others prefer to limit visits until they feel comfortable. Remember that your needs and your baby’s needs are the priority. Don’t worry if the house is a mess!
Your baby will also be adapting to their new environment and this is sometimes referred to as the ‘fourth trimester‘.
Remember that you and your baby are in this together and will learn along the way. It’s ok to take it one day at a time.
Newborn babies mainly just want to be fed, kept warm, have their nappy changed and spend lots of time close to you. This will help them adjust and feel secure.
From birth your baby needs to be breastfed or formula fed regularly to have good weight gains. Most newborns feed every 2 to 4 hours (8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period). Newborns have little tummies, so they need to wake often including during the night to feed. Read more about breastfeeding and feeding with formula.
If you are having trouble breastfeeding, get support early. Talk to your midwife and child health nurse. You may like to organise a visit with a lactation consultant if you’d like extra support.
What is an at-home visit?
Before you leave the hospital, your midwife may organise a time to come and visit you to provide care for you and your baby, including breastfeeding advice.
The hospital will then hand you over to community care, such as your child health nurse. You will have your first appointment with your local child health nurse at home after about a week. They will check on the health and wellbeing of both you and your baby. You should use this time to ask lots of questions.
Your baby’s weight and other measurements will be recorded in their baby’s health record book. This helps check your baby’s health, growth and development against what is expected.
Listen to Dianne Zalitis, midwife, on the podcast Feed Play Love with Shevonne Hunt about what to expect when you bring your baby home.
How do I look after myself?
As hard as it may sound, you need to make sure to look after your own health and mental wellbeing when you get home from the hospital with your baby.
Getting some sleep, healthy eating and gentle exercise will help your body and mind recover from birth.
Your diet is important to help you stay healthy and keep up with the demands of caring for a newborn. You should try to eat a nutritious diet and drink enough water to satisfy your thirst.
The best time for you to try to catch up on sleep is when your baby is sleeping. Ask your partner, a close family member or a friend to look after your baby for a couple of hours if you need some rest. It’s ok to ask for help.
Some parents prepare and freeze a few meals before their baby is due. This helps you to have some quick meals ready to go. Or ask a friend to make some freezer-friendly meals for you.
It’s a good idea to set up your home so you have easy access to spare clothes, nappies, wipes and feeding equipment.
How emotional should I feel?
Emotional ups and down can be normal after giving birth. However, if you have feelings of being down, inadequate, anxious, have trouble sleeping, or find yourself worrying excessively about your baby, you may have postnatal depression. There is plenty of help available from these trusted resources:
- PANDA — 1300 726 306
- Beyond Blue — 1300 224 636
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby — 1800 882 436
By speaking to a medical professional early, it can help prevent things from becoming more serious.
Where can I read more information?
Remember, you can always ask your doctor, midwife or child health nurse for advice.
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby has lots of other articles to support you in this transition.
- Baby's first few hours
- Mum's first 24 hours after birth
- Your baby in the first few days
- First few days after giving birth
- Dad's guide to bringing home baby
- A day in the life of a newborn
- Baby sleep and settling
- Settling a crying baby
- Feeding your baby — what are the options?
- Getting your baby to sleep
- Washing you baby
- Swaddling your baby
- All about nappies
- Baby poo guide (infographic)
- How to dress a newborn
- Support for parents
- Adding your newborn to Medicare
Where can I go for help?
If you find yourself home from hospital and not sure what to do, there are online and phone services to give you advice and support.
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby — speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436.
- Australian Breastfeeding Association on 1800 686 268.
- COPE — online support for new parents.
- Parentline ACT: (02) 6287 3833, 9am — 5pm AEST.
- Parent Line NSW: 1300 1300 52, Mon to Fri: 9am — 9pm / weekends: 4pm — 9pm.
- Parentline Queensland and Northern Territory: 1300 30 1300, 7 days, 8am — 10pm.
- Parent Helpline South Australia: 1300 364 100, 7 days, 7.15am — 9.15pm.
- Parent Line Tasmania: 1300 808 178, 7 days, 24 hours.
- Parentline Victoria: 13 22 89, Mon to Fri: 8am — 12am / weekends: 10am — 10pm.
- Ngala Parenting line Western Australia: (08) 9368 9368 (1800 111 546), 7 days, 8am — 8pm.
- Karitane Careline: 1300 227 464. Education and support.
- Tresillian Parent Helpline: 1300 272 736 (1300 2Parent), 7 days, From 7am.
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Last reviewed: September 2022