logo
Parent education at Bradford

This section is all about becoming a family and life after birth. Have a look at the links below for some useful information.

We offer virtual antenatal classes that cover all the topics below and more.

midwife
Caroline Lamb, Midwife
midwife
Gina Melia, Midwife

Building a happy baby – responding to your baby and brain development

During pregnancy, your baby’s brain is growing very quickly and you can help this growth by taking some time out to relax and talk to baby, to stroke your bump and maybe play music. Encourage other close family members to do the same.

New babies have a strong need to be close to their parents, as this helps them to feel secure and loved. When babies feel secure they release a hormone called oxytocin, which acts like a fertiliser for their growing brain, helping them to be happy babies and more confident children and adults.

Holding, smiling and talking to your baby also releases oxytocin in you, which helps you to feel calm and happy. We cannot spoil babies by giving them too much attention, when babies’ needs for love and comfort are met; they will be calmer and grow up to be more confident. Babies don’t benefit from lots of toys, looking at your face is the best way for babies to learn. Talking, listening and smiling triggers oxytocin and helps your baby’s brain to grow.

Skin-to-skin contact – meeting baby for the first time

After your baby is born, hold him against your skin as soon as possible, and for as long as you want. Skin to skin contact reduces baby’s stress level by 75%. This will calm him and give you both the chance to rest, keep warm and get to know each other. If you want to breastfeed, this is a great time to start as your baby might move towards the breast and work out the best way to suckle for himself. Breastfeeding also releases lots of oxytocin in baby and mother, which will help you to feel close and connected. If you choose to bottle feed, giving the first feed in skin contact while holding your baby close and looking into his eyes will also help you bond.

Your baby after the birth

First feed, weight gain and nappies

Some babies feed immediately after birth and others take a little longer. Your midwife will support you with feeding your baby however you choose to feed. We encourage the first feed to be in skin to skin contact.

A children’s doctor (paediatrician), midwife or newborn (neonatal) nurse will check your baby is well, and will offer him or her a newborn physical examination within 72 hours of birth.

It’s normal for babies to lose some weight in the first few days after birth. Putting on weight steadily after this is a sign your baby is healthy and feeding well.

Tests and checks for your baby

You’ll be offered 2 screening tests for your baby:

  • newborn hearing screening test
  • blood spot (heel prick) test ( usually on day 5 )

In the early days, the midwife will check your baby for signs of:

  • jaundice
  • infection of the umbilical cord or eyes
  • thrush in the mouth

2 weeks and beyond

You don’t need to give your baby a bath every day. You may prefer to wash their face, neck, hands and bottom carefully instead.

Most babies will regain their birthweight in the first 2 weeks. Around this time their care will move from a midwife to a health visitor.

The health visitor will check your baby’s growth and development at regular appointments, and record this in your baby’s red book.

Your body after the birth

Stitches

If you’ve had stitches after tearing or an episiotomy (cut), bathe them every day to help prevent infection. Have a bath or shower with plain warm water then carefully pat yourself dry. If your stitches are sore or uncomfortable, tell your midwife.

Painkillers can help. If you’re breastfeeding, check with your pharmacist, midwife or GP before you buy over-the-counter painkillers.

Stitches usually dissolve by the time the cut or tear has healed, but sometimes they have to be taken out.

Going to the toilet

At first, the thought of peeing can be a bit frightening – because of the soreness. Drinking lots of water dilutes your urine, which may make it sting less.

You probably won’t have a poo for a few days after the birth, but it’s important not to let yourself get constipated.

Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, salad, wholegrain cereals and wholemeal bread, and drink plenty of water.

If you’ve had stitches, it’s very unlikely you’ll break them, or open up the cut or tear again.

It might feel better if you hold a pad of clean tissue over the stitches when pooing. Try not to strain. Tell your midwife or GP if poo is leaking or you’re pooing when you don’t mean to.

Bladder control

After having a baby, it’s quite common to leak a bit of pee if you laugh, cough or move suddenly. Pelvic floor exercises can help with this but tell your GP at your postnatal check if they aren’t. They may refer you to a physiotherapist.

Piles

Piles are very common after birth but usually disappear within a few days. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, salad, wholegrain cereals and wholemeal bread, and drink plenty of water. This should make pooing easier and less painful. Try not to push or strain – this will make the piles worse.

Bleeding after birth (lochia)

You’ll bleed from your vagina after the birth. It will be quite heavy at first, and you’ll need super-absorbent sanitary towels. Change them regularly, washing your hands before and afterwards.

It isn’t a good idea to use tampons until after your 6-week postnatal check because they could increase your chance of getting an infection.

You may notice the bleeding is redder and heavier when you breastfeed. This happens because breastfeeding makes your womb contract. You may also feel cramps similar to period pains.

The bleeding will carry on for a few weeks. It will gradually turn a brownish colour and decrease until it finally stops.If you’re losing blood in large clots, tell your midwife. You may need some treatment.

Breasts

To begin with, your breasts will produce a yellowish liquid called colostrum for your baby. On the third or fourth day, they may feel tight and tender as they start to produce milk. Wearing a supportive nursing bra may help. Speak to your midwife if you’re very uncomfortable.

Tummy

After delivery, your tummy will probably still be a lot bigger than before pregnancy. This is partly because your muscles have stretched. If you eat a balanced diet and get some exercise, your shape should gradually return.

Breastfeeding helps because it makes your womb contract. You may feel quite painful period-like cramps while you’re feeding. You could also try these gentle postnatal tummy exercises.

Contraception

It’s possible to become pregnant again very soon after the birth of a baby, even if you’re breastfeeding and even if your periods have not returned.

You usually release an egg (ovulate) about 2 weeks before your period starts, so it’s possible to get pregnant before you have a period.

Find out about your options

It’s important to plan contraception in advance. If you have your baby in hospital, you’ll probably discuss contraception with a midwife before you go home.

You’ll also be asked about contraception at your postnatal check, which happens 6 to 8 weeks after the birth. But you can discuss it at any time (including while you’re still pregnant) with a:

  • health visitor
  • midwife
  • GP
  • doctor or nurse at a contraception or sexual health clinic

Not all methods of contraception are safe for all women. You can discuss with your doctor or nurse which methods are suitable for you.

Mental health and emotional wellbeing

While coping with the physical changes in pregnancy, birth and beyond, your emotional wellbeing is important too. Many women feel anxious, unhappy, mentally distressed, depressed or even more severely mentally unwell during this time, which can be unexpected.

A ‘perinatal’ mental health problem is one that you experience any time from becoming pregnant up to a year after you give birth.

Having a baby is a big life event. It’s natural to experience a range of emotions during pregnancy and after giving birth. But if any difficult feelings start to have a big effect on your day-to-day life, you might be experiencing a perinatal mental health problem.

This may be new mental health problem, or an episode of a problem you’ve experienced in the past.

How can I look after myself?

Becoming a new parent can be a very stressful experience. Finding ways to look after yourself that fit in with your responsibilities and needs can make a big difference to your mental health. Here are some ideas: building a support network, managing daily tasks and looking after yourself.

What support and services are there?

There are various organisations, support services and health professionals who can support your mental health during pregnancy and after having a baby. These may include general health and pregnancy support services like:

  • your GP
  • antenatal care (with your midwife or obstetrician)
  • your health visitor

There are also more specialist services to support you if you are at risk of becoming more unwell, or if you become more unwell. These include:

  • perinatal mental health services
  • community mental health teams (CMHTs) and crisis teams
  • hospitals, and mother and baby units (MBUs)

Or you can access support and services through voluntary organisations and charities.

Coping with infant crying

Infant crying is normal and it will stop! Babies start to cry more frequently from around 2 weeks of age.

Comfort methods can sometimes soothe the baby and the crying will stop. Is the baby hungry, tired or in need of a nappy change? Comfort methods to try include:

  • Talk calmly to your baby.
  • Stroke them gently.
  • Try placing your baby face down on your lap, or hold them against you and try stroking their back rhythmically.
  • Hum or sing to your baby.
  • Let them hear a repeating, constant and soothing sound.
  • Classical music, including piano and guitar, can sometimes soothe some babies.
  • Hold them close – skin to skin.
  • Go outside with your baby and walk them in a pram or in a baby sling.
  • The rocking motion can be very soothing for a baby.
  • Try giving them a warm bath.

It’s okay to walk away if you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you. After a few minutes when you are feeling calm, go back and check on the baby.

Never, ever shake or hurt a baby. It can cause lasting brain damage and death.

Life as a parent

You’ve just had a baby and everyone is focused on your little one. But how about you?

Tips and support about your body, dads and partners and lifestyle