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.
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
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.
Plunket contact details:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone 0800 291 658 or
- Phone/text: 027 275 8477
You will be supported by all the midwives working in the birthing suite, maternity ward, neo natal unit to begin breast feeding. All Southern district birthing units are baby-friendly accredited sites. This means the aim is to give every baby the best start in life by creating health care spaces where breastfeeding is the norm as are practices known to promote the health and wellbeing of all women and babies.
Additional support for breastfeeding is available from a lactation consultant for those who need it. Your LMC midwife will advise on this.
Once at home there is community breastfeeding support available – this includes face-to-face support including La Leche League Breast Feeding Support Groups and Breastfeeding Peer Supporters, apps and websites, phone support, books and videos via this link:
Breastfeeding apps available to download include:
Breastfeeding has positive physical and mental health implications for both mums and little ones, and helps lay the foundations of a healthy life for babies. Breastmilk is the perfect food for infants and exclusive breastfeeding is recommended until babies are around six months. Breastmilk has the unique ability to adapt hour-to-hour, day-to-day and week-to-week to your child's needs depending on the stage of growth and development, and even the weather!
We know that although breastfeeding is natural it sometimes doesn't come naturally so it's important that mothers know what to expect and have support from their partners, families, and whanau. Successful breastfeeding makes a positive contribution to the health and wider wellbeing of mothers and families/whanau.
Much of the work done to promote breastfeeding within the region is driven by the Breastfeeding Networks in both Otago and Southland . The networks consist of a range of providers like Plunket, La Leche League, hospitals, midwives, peer counsellors and consumers like parents that work together to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.
Free Antenatal Breastfeeding Classes now running in Dunedin
These FREE classes from the Southern Primary Health Organisation will help parents gain confidence with breastfeeding. They are available to all prospective parents and their supporters, not only first-time parents. They are designed to complement and extend the information provided by antenatal education classes. This flyer has contact details for more information.
Baby and Breastfeeding Friendly Venues in Otago & Southland
BURP (Breastfeeding’s Ultimate Refuel Place) is a website and a mobile phone app / website directing mums to breastfeeding friendly venues such as cafes, libraries, museums, retail stores to name a few in Southland, Otago and Central Otago. You can be assured when going to one of the 250 venues listed (and growing) that staff are supportive of breastfeeding! There is also an opportunity to provide feedback on your breastfeeding experience. A breastfeeding sticker indicates that a venue is baby and breastfeeding friendly.
Check BURP out at www.burpapp.co.nzor more information on this BURP Poster
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.
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.
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:
- Plunket Otago, phone 03 474 0490, web www.plunket.org.nz
- Plunket Southland, phone 03 218 4764, web: www.plunket.org.nz
- Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora, Dunedin, coverage area from Balclutha to Palmerston (includes all of Dunedin) phone 03 471 9960, web www.araiteuru.co.nz
- Awarua Whānau Services, Invercargill, coverage area from Bluff, Invercargill, Gore district, Stewart Island, phone 03 218 6668, web www.awaruashs.maori.nz
- Pacific Trust Otago, Dunedin, coverage – Dunedin, phone 03 455 1722, web www.pto.nz
- Maniototo Health Services, coverage – Ranfurly/Maniototo, phone 03 4449420
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
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:
- Infant health education
- Portable sleep space
- 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.
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 email@example.com.
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:
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone Otago on 03 476 9800
- Phone Southland on 03 211 8500