Your baby and the first few weeks
When you bring your baby home, you may not know what to do next, especially if you are a new parent. It might be difficult, but there is always someone to help. This article has information to help you during those early weeks – covering health checks for your baby, support and services, and government paperwork you need to do.
DISCLAIMER: Please note the Department of Human Services is now called Services Australia. Go to servicesaustralia.gov.au to learn more.
Bringing your newborn home
Bringing your baby home is exciting, but it can also be daunting to leave the support of the hospital or birthing centre behind.
Some women also find that breastfeeding is difficult or that they feel isolated, especially if they don’t have friends and family nearby.
Whatever the problem, there are services to help in those early days and weeks at home.
In the first few days, a midwife might visit you every day at home. There are also telephone services that you can call night and day, such as parent helplines in your state or territory and the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
Your local child health clinic is also a great source of information about feeding and health. Clinics provide support and run groups for new mothers, sometimes in languages other than English.
Most women feel teary, overwhelmed and/or anxious 3 to 5 days after the birth. This is called the baby blues and is due to rapidly changing hormone levels after the birth. If these feelings last longer than a few days and they get more intense, talk to your doctor or child health nurse. These feelings might be a sign that you have postnatal depression.
What paperwork will you have to do?
A new baby means lots of paperwork and filling in forms. You will need to register your baby’s birth and name, add your baby to Medicare, and arrange government payments if you are eligible.
The hospital or midwife will give you a Parent Pack, which includes most of the forms you need to fill in. An important form in this pack is the Newborn Child Declaration. You will need this form to register your child with Medicare and to complete your application for Parental Leave Pay or other government payments.
A form to register your baby for My Health Record is also included in the Parent Pack. My Health Record is a digital health record that allows you to share your health information with health service providers if you want to.
Health services and support are available for families who have migrated to Australia or arrived in Australia as refugees. If you need help with Medicare services in your language, call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450.
What is an infant health record?
You will be given a book called an infant health record just after your baby is born.
This book records important information about your baby, including their growth, vaccinations and any health issues. The book might be blue, purple, red, green or yellow, depending on which state or territory you live in.
What health checks will your baby need?
Your baby will need regular health checks in the first few months.
The child health nurse at your local child health centre, or your doctor (GP), can do these check-ups for your baby, usually at 2, 4 and 6 weeks after birth. The nurse will ask you how your child is going and if you have any concerns.
In most states and territories, your baby’s first child health appointment will be at your home. Your hospital or birth centre will organise this visit.
You can also ask either the nurses at the child health centre or your doctor about anything else that may be worrying you. It’s a good idea to write down your questions before the check-ups so you don't forget to ask anything.
Child health nurse services are free for families with children up to the age at which they start school.
Your baby will need a full health check with a GP or paediatrician when they are 6 weeks old. They may also have their first immunisations at this check.
Support and advice
There are many sources of information and support, often available 7 days a week, including:
- You can talk to your GP or early childhood health nurse.
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby provides information and support. You can talk with a maternal child health nurse by phone on 1800 882 436 or via video call.
- healthdirect Service Finder – can help you find health services and hospitals near you.
- You can call the Australian Breastfeeding Association National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268.
- Call PANDA on 1300 726 306 for support if you think you have post or antenatal depression and anxiety.
- You can contact the parent helpline in your state or territory.
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Last reviewed: May 2021