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Now you've had your baby, what's next?

The first six weeks

Congratulations, your parenting journey is beginning!  It is very important that you and your baby continue to receive the health care you need, to get off to the best start in life.

Before leaving the birthing unit you will be asked to confirm two things that your midwife LMC will have discussed with you in the third trimester:

  • the GP baby will be enrolled with;
  • which WellChild Tamariki or provider you want baby to be enrolled with;

You stay under the care of your LMC midwife for the first 6 weeks after birth.

Find out about getting your baby's vision and hearing checked.

If your baby has a hearing loss, finding it early will help their language, learning and social development. The Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Programme aims to identify newborn babies with hearing loss early so they can access appropriate assistance as soon as possible. Screening is usually done before you and your baby go home from the hospital.  Find more information at Newborn Hearing Screening on the Ministry of Health website 

Registering your baby’s birth is important and required by law. It is easy to complete online – just follow the prompts and it is free unless you want to order a birth certificate.

For advice and assistance on any financial help that you may be entitled to go to Smart Start and Best Start

Find useful information about coping with a crying baby 


More information

Becoming a mother

It will probably be the biggest change of your life. New mothers often say that nobody prepared them for motherhood. It is hard to recognise that our mothers prepared us by their example, and we have learned by absorption. Recent years have brought changes in thinking and actions.

This booklet is a guide for today’s new mothers to help us all understand our baby’s needs and be the mother our baby wants.

Kōpūtanga - Pregnancy and Parenting

Pregnancy and parenting in the Southern district is to support first time parents and others by providing a range of information and facilitation of discussions around pregnancy and childbirth and parenting of a new-born.

Enrolment on a course is free and is encouraged as soon as your pregnancy has been confirmed.  You are encouraged to bring your partner or another support person with you if possible, however, if this is not possible you are welcome to come on your own. 

Plunket deliver pregnancy and parenting across the Southern district.  They a work with a number of health providers to deliver sessions, which are culturally acceptable and in settings where women are comfortable.  This includes involving both Maori and Pacific providers. 

Most pregnancy and parenting sessions are delivered to groups of women but in the Southern district we also provide one-on-one sessions for women who may not wish or may not be able to attend group sessions. 

Find out more about the Plunket  pregnancy and parenting programme

Enrol in the Plunket pregnancy and parenting

Plunket contact details:

Breastfeeding

Once at home there is community breastfeeding support available – this includes face-to-face and phone support from breastfeeding mothers with experience and special training to support you. Check out the following link for breastfeeding support in your area:

Breastfeeding information online
If you are looking online for breastfeeding information, it is important to use evidence-based information. Some good reliable websites are:

Be mindful on social media, influencers are often not a great source of reliable information!

These free apps are great breastfeeding buddies!

  • BURP (Breastfeeding’s Ultimate Refuel Place) is a mobile phone app/website directing mums to breastfeeding friendly venues in Southland, Otago and Central Otago. You can be assured when going to one of the 400+ venues listed that staff are supportive of breastfeeding! There is also an opportunity to provide feedback on your breastfeeding experience. www.burpapp.co.nz
  • BreastfedNZ is an excellent evidence-based app to support you throughout your breastfeeding journey, helping you to navigate changes and know what to expect.

Community Breast Pump Hire
If you require a breast pump, there are some for hire, for a small charge, throughout the region.  To find a pump call your local breastfeeding drop-in clinic – use this PDF get the contact details.

Breastfeeding in public
You have the right to breastfeeding anywhere at any time in any place. If someone tells you otherwise, they are wrong. Some mums can be shy about breastfeeding in public and if you are worried about it look for these “He waahi whaangai u tenei. Breastfeeding welcome” stickers. The stickers indicate that the venue is a baby and breastfeeding friendly BURP venue and that means the staff has received training on how to support you when you are breastfeeding in public.  

Breastfeeding welcome

Breastfeeding in the workplace
Before you go back to work it is a good idea to meet with your manager and develop a plan for your return to work. This will give your manager time to make appropriate arrangements and allow you to be confident that you can breastfeed/express when you return to work. In order to breastfeed/express breastmilk successfully at work you will need:

  • time (breastfeeding breaks, flexible working hours) 
  • a place to breastfeed/express breastmilk (that is not a toilet!)
  • facilities to wash equipment and store expressed breastmilk if necessary 
  • arrangements for someone to cover your duties while you are on breastfeeding breaks (if necessary)
  • support from your work colleagues (your fellow staff should be aware of the workplace breastfeeding policy)

Utilising the “Keeping in Touch’ days where an employee can work for a total of 64 hours while on paid parental leave can be a good way to trial the breastfeeding/expressing breaks and facilities. Find out more here.

Talking to other employees who have combined breastfeeding and working can also help with feeling supported. When you are back at work remember that it will take time to adjust to your new routine. Be patient with yourself and your baby and make sure you provide feedback to your employer about your progress. If things go wrong and you don’t get the workplace support you need talk to your manager, their superior, Human Resources or your union rep. 

For more information on working and breastfeeding the following are useful:

Safe sleep

To find out information on keeping your baby safe while sleeping:

Coping with a crying baby

All babies cry. Crying can mean hunger or a dirty or wet nappy, or they may just need a cuddle, a song, a walk or a ride to soothe them. Ministry of Health has advice on coping with a crying baby

Smokefree home and car

Cigarette smoke is very harmful to your baby, both during pregnancy and after birth. Read the Ministry of Health information about having a smokefree home and car

Southern Stop Smoking Service – provides a free Southern wide service offering one on one support to help you stop smoking.  There is a Pregnant Women Stop Smoking Incentive Programme to support and encourage pregnant women to become smoke free.  There is also Smoke Free Families Incentive Programme, which is offered to parents and family members who smoke in the primary home of a child who has recently been admitted to hospital for a tobacco associated health issues (ie respiratory infection or glue ear). Find out about the Kaitahu Southern Stop Smoking service.

Drug and Alcohol

Stop smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs if you could be pregnant, are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant as this affects your baby and can cause health problems. Read the Ministry of Health information about stopping smoking, drinking alcohol and using drugs during pregnancy

Car Seat Advice

Find out from Plunket about their car seats service.

Immunisation

Your Midwife, GP and Well Child Tamariki Ora provider will discuss with you immunisations for your baby, which start at six weeks of age.  Immunisations are detailed in baby’s Well Child Tamariki Ora book.

Newborn hearing screening

Newborn hearing screening, which is offered to all babies born in New Zealand, checks whether your baby is hearing well.  The test, which is non-invasive is undertaken as soon as possible after birth.  If this check occurs early, then baby can get any help needed as soon as possible.  This can help baby’s language, learning and social development.

Postnatal depression

You may feel down after having a baby – known as the ‘baby blues’. These feelings usually only last a day or two. If the blues don’t go away, you may be developing postnatal depression. Ask for help. Postnatal depression can be treated. Find out more about postnatal depression on the Ministry of Health website.

Choosing your Well Child Tamariki Ora Provider

Baby is entitled to receive free Well Child Tamariki Ora services.  This is a screening, education, development and support service offered to all New Zealand babies and their whanau/family from around six weeks to five years of age.  Your LMC will discuss this with you.  Well Child Tamariki Ora services help to ensure baby grows and develops to their full potential.  

You can choose a Well Child Tamariki Ora provider from the list below:

Oranga Pepi

Oranga Pepi is a Southern DHB initiative to provide you with a friendly source of information about new-born services that baby is entitled to receive when born. 

Your LMC will discuss this information with you in the third trimester.  This gives you time to make decisions on a couple of things when baby is born.  You will be asked to advise who baby’s GP will be and which Well Child Tamariki Ora provider you wish to register with.

Baby’s new-born entitlements include:

  • Baby’s hearing

You will be offered new-born hearing screening to check whether baby can hear well.  Screening is usually done before you go home from the birthing unit, or, if you birth at home, we will arrange and appointment.

  • Baby’s immunisation

Immunisation helps protect baby against a number of serious diseases.  Having all the immunisations is important to fully protect your child.  Baby will automatically registered with the National Immunisation Register (NIR) which is a computerised record of your baby’s immunisations.

  • Baby’s doctor

Baby is entitled to free family doctor visits under the age of 13 years.  You will be asked to advise which GP you have chosen for baby before you leave the birthing unit.  Your chosen medical centre will ask you to complete an enrolment form when your first visit to ensure baby gets the care he or she is entitled to.

  • Baby’s teeth

Healthy teeth are essential to a healthy childhood.  Baby is entitled to free oral health care from birth to 17 years of age and will automatically be enrolled with the Community Oral Health Service (COHS).  COHS will contact you for the first check when baby reaches six months of age, even if you can’t see baby’s teeth. 

  • Baby’s Well Child Tamariki Ora Nurse

Baby is entitled to receive free Baby’s Well Child Tamariki Ora services from around six weeks to five years of age. These include:

  • Health and development assessments
  • Care and support for families and whanau
  • Health education

Pepi pods

What is the Southern District Health Board Sleep Space Programme?

The Southern District Health Board (DHB) Sleep Space Programme is a coordinated approach to delivering infant public health services, including safe sleep, smokefree, breastfeeding, immunisation and gentle handling, to those most at risk of experiencing Sudden Unexpected Death of an Infant (SUDI). There are three core elements to delivery:

  1. Infant health education
  2. Portable sleep space
  3. Spread of the following safe sleep awareness messages:
    • Babies sleep on their back
    • With airways clear
    • In their own bed
    • With carer near

The three programme components are essential. They facilitate engagement with priority families, offer a safe sleep space and promote a partnership relationship and shared responsibility for protecting the region’s more vulnerable infants.

The Southern DHB Sleep Space Programme is co-ordinated by Public Health South and supported by the national coordination group, Change for our Children.

Local agencies with contracts to support pregnancy and/or new-borns distribute the pods and collect programme data. Their staff undergo programme-specific distributor training.

If your organisation would be interested in becoming a Sleep Space distributor, please email us 

For more information on Pēpi-Pods, visit Change for our children website

Southern DHB is also working on a providing wahakura, which are unique, lovingly hand-woven safe sleep spaces for baby made out of harakeke.  Wahakura also support Māori cultural values of co-sleeping, promote bonding and breastfeeding, and allow parents to respond instantly to baby during the first few weeks of life. 

Who is Eligible for a Southern DHB Pēpi-Pod?

Eligibility for the Southern DHB Sleep Space Programme is based on evidence of increased risk of SUDI. Referrals are encouraged for mothers and babies who meet these criteria.

Sleep Space

Who can Refer a Mother or Baby for a Pēpi-Pod?

Any agency or individual may refer mothers and infants for pods if they meet the Southern DHB Sleep Space Programme criteria. It is also possible for families to refer themselves for a pod.

How to Make a Referral?

To Make a referral please fill in the Sleep Space Assessment section (grey half) of the form below and send through to pepi-pods@southerndhb.govt.nz.

Sleep Space Programme Referral

What is Available for Families who do not Meet the Pēpi-Pod Criteria?

Where families do not meet programme criteria there is the option of buying a pod using TradeMe (under listing # 819955005). Otherwise, bassinets are available to Dunedin and Invercargill residents from Pregnancy Help Dunedin and Invercargill at no cost.

For further information: