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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Congratulations and welcome to parenthood. Adjusting to life with a newborn can be overwhelming and it is normal to experience moments of doubt as you learn and adapt in the first few weeks. Here is some information to help you during this special time.​

On this page:

Staying in hospital

During your hospital stay the midwives will support you and your baby as you transition to parenthood. This includes support with feeding, bathing, changing nappies, settling or anything else you need. We are also here to help you rest and recover from the labour and birth.​

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 Length of stay

​If mother and baby are both healthy and well after birth, they can go home directly from the birth unit a few hours after the baby is born. Most women, however, choose to have a short postnatal stay. If you have a vaginal birth, you can expect stay in hospital for 1 to 2 nights. If you have a caesarean birth, it is usual to stay 2 to 3 nights.
Midwives and medical staff will ensure both you and your baby are well prior to discharge. Following discharge from hospital, midwifery care can continue when you are at home with a combination of phone calls and home visits for up to 14 days after the birth of your baby. This is called PDF icon Midwifery in the Home. Following 14 days your care is transferred to your local Child and Family Health team and your GP.

 Single rooms

​While we are fortunate in this health district to have many single rooms available on the postnatal ward, they cannot be guaranteed for everyone and are allocated based on clinical needs. Single rooms also cannot be pre-arranged, they are allocated at the time of transfer from birth unit. We understand this is important to you and will try to accommodate this whenever we can.

 Can my partner stay?

​This depends on the room you are allocated which cannot be predicted or pre arranged. If you are in a single room with fold out couch your partner can stay with you overnight if you wish. Linen is provided for your partner however meals are not. Often, it is a sensible idea for your partner to go home overnight to have a good rest so they can be a better support for you in the day. You will have a midwife allocated to you at all times, to help you and your baby.

 Visiting hours

​Visiting hours differ between hospitals. Maternity wards can be noisy places and are popular with visitors. Each service tries to allocate quiet times, without visiting, at some stage of the day to ensure the mums get some rest. As you are likely to have a short stay, we recommend minimising visitors to enable you to get the most out of your postnatal stay. Partners are welcome anytime.

Royal North Shore Maternity Unit visiting hours: 10am to 1pm / 3pm to 8pm

Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Maternity unit visiting hours: 10am to 12pm / 2pm to 8pm

 Education sessions

​Each Maternity Unit offers education sessions during week days, topics include feeding and settling. Partners are welcome to attend also.

 Baby’s hearing check

​All babies are offered aExternal Linkhearing check in the first few days while in hospital. If this is not able to be done an appointment will be arranged for your baby.

 Newborn bloodspot screening

External LinkNewborn Bloodspot Screening is a free blood test offered to all babies within two to three days after birth. This test checks for 25 different medical disorders such as cystic fibrosis, primary congenital hypothyroidism and other rare diseases.

 I do not wish to breastfeed and I plan to bottle feed my baby, do I need to bring anything?

​Royal North Shore Hospital:

No. Formula, bottles & teats will be provided for your baby while you are in hospital. Prior to the your baby’s birth we do recommend that you purchase the formula, bottle & teats you wish to use

Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital:

Yes. Please bring the formula you plan to use, bottles and teats, so we can support you preparing your baby’s feeds for when you go home

 Postnatal bladder, bowel, and pelvic floor care

 Immediate care of your perineum

​Many women will have stitches in their perineum after birth. Maintaining regular hygiene is important for healing.

Here are some recommendations for a good recovery:

  • Change pads regularly
  • Wash perineum regularly with soap and water and gently pat dry
  • Ice packs can assist in pain relief
  • Rest in elevated positions – lying flat on stomach with pelvis on a pillow
  • Speak to your doctor or midwife if you are concerned or would like some further information

 Recovering from a forceps birth

​Many women find it beneficial to engage with a women’s health physiotherapist following a birth assisted by forceps. Where possible this can occur during your inpatient stay. There are several women’s health physiotherapists in the community who you may wish to follow up with at 6-8 weeks post birth.

 Bladder care

​Reduced bladder sensation is common in the early days after birth. This means you may not notice if your bladder is full as easily as you did before the baby was born.

The following tips are recommended to help with this:

  • Drink to thirst, approximately 1 – 2 litres per day
  • Empty your bladder at least every 3 hours during the day and once overnight until your bladder sensation has returned to normal
  • If you have any concerns, let your midwife or doctor know

External Link Urinary and bowel incontinence in the first few months after birth can be of concern. It takes time for healing after birth. If you are experiencing any loss of urine or bowels, please speak with your midwife or doctor.

 Pelvic muscle care

  • ​Squeeze yourExternal Linkpelvic floor muscles prior to coughing, sneezing, or lifting to protect against increases in pressure
  • Perform regular pelvic floor exercises

TheExternal LinkContinence Foundation of Australia have educational videos and resources for pregnancy and after birth.

 Recovering from a caesarean

  • Recovery is different for every woman. We encourage gentle movement following surgery.
  • The midwives and medical staff are here to help, and you will be offered regular pain relief.
  • It may be worth considering reducing visitors when you are in hospital and when at home to help you rest.
  • More information onExternal Linkrecovery after a caesarean can be found here

​Midwifery in the home

The Northern Sydney Local Health District cares for women and their babies in the home up to 14 days from the day of birth. There is good evidence to show that returning home as soon as you are able, with ongoing support from professionals, is beneficial for mothers and babies.

Midwifes will provide a combination of home visits or tele-health depending on your individual needs.​

PDF icon​​Midwifery in the Home​

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​Normal newborn behaviour

Just like labour and birth it is a sensible idea to do some preparation for caring for your baby. Understanding normal newborn behaviour before they arrive can help you and your support people to manage expectations, particularly around feeding. Breastfeeding can also be challenging while you and your baby are both learning how to feed, but there is lots of resources and support available to you. 

PDF icon​​Normal Newborn Behaviour and Breastfeeding 

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Breastfeeding gives your baby the best start in life! Breastfeeding has many health and practical benefits for women and their babies.

Being informed is a good place to start, even before your baby is born. External LinkThere are breastfeeding classes and lots of External Linkresources available.

Early skin to skin helps with bonding with your baby and leads to better feeding outcomes. Following baby's feeding cues is key to establishing breastfeeding and your milk supply. Your breastmilk is the only food and water your baby needs for the first 6 months.

These early days of learning to breastfeed and establishing your milk supply can be overwhelming. It is a learned skill for both you and your baby. While you are in hospital you will have support from midwives and lactation consultants, as well as the postnatal breastfeeding classes. There is lots of help in the community too, including theExternal Linkchild and family health service and theExternal LinkAustralian Breastfeeding Association.​

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First few months

When you are discharged from hospital you will be referred to your local child and family health service for follow up. 

External Link NSLHD Child Youth and Family Health

Newborn babies rely on their parents and other caregivers to give them what they need for healthy development.

As you spend time with your baby and get to know them, you’ll find it easier to understand your baby's behaviour and what it's telling you.

When you respond consistently, gently and lovingly to your baby’s behaviour, it builds your relationship and lays the foundation for your child’s development and wellbeing.

For more information on newborn behaviour and what to expect in the first few weeks at home we recommendExternal Linkthe Raising Children website​​​​

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 Looking after yourself

​Looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally is good for you, and it’s good for your baby. When you’re well, you can give your baby the loving attention they need to grow and thrive. You can also cope better if your baby is crying a lot.

Remember that part of looking after yourself is asking for help, especially if you’re feeling tired, stressed, anxious or angry. There are many people who can support you and your baby, including your partner, friends, relatives, child and family health nurse and GP.

If you need assistance with any aspect of parenting or care of your newborn your local Child, Youth and Family Health service is available. For more information or to find the nearest centre to you seeExternal Linkhere

 Newborn behaviour

​As new parents you will learn to understand your baby's  cues and become more confident in caring for your baby. 

For more information on newborn behaviour and what to expect in the first few weeks at home we recommend the

External LinkRaising Children website


External LinkCrying​ is how your newborn baby communicates their needs. Such as:

  • hunger
  • tiredness
  • discomfort
  • sickness or in pain
  • they need a change of scenery or
  • they need to know you’re there

Babies cry on average for almost 3 hours a day however some cry for a lot longer than this. Crying peaks at about 6-8 weeks. And as babies get older, they spend less time crying. The crying is also more likely to be spread throughout the day. And it’s easier to understand what babies need when they cry.

It is sometimes hard to work out what your baby needs when they cry. But even if your crying baby isn’t sick, hurt, uncomfortable or hungry, it’s still important to comfort them. For example, you could try cuddling or rocking them, taking them for a walk, or giving them aExternal Linkbaby massage


​Newborn babies needExternal Linksleep to grow and develop well. For newborns this is usually 14-17 hours in every 24 hours.

Newborns usually sleep in short bursts of 2-3 hours each. Some newborns sleep for up to 4 hours at a time. Newborns wake frequently to feed because they have tiny tummies. Your baby might go straight back to sleep after feeding, or they might stay awake long enough for a short play.


​In the early days, newborns typically need to feed every 2-4 hours.

It might help to know that most babies establish a manageable pattern of feeding over the first few weeks of life. They learn to do most of their feeds during the day and have fewer at night, so it will get easier.

 When to seek help

​If you suspect your baby is sick, if it’s difficult to comfort your baby or you’re not sure why they’re crying, make an appointment with your GP or call yourExternal Linkchild and family health nurse. You can also talk to your GP or child and family health nurse if you’re worried or unsure about other aspects of your baby’s behaviour.
For more information go to theExternal LinkRaising Children website​

Parenting resources

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