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Postnatal period

Congratulations on the birth of your baby! Now it is time to enjoy, recover from pregnancy and delivery, learn to look after your baby and to get used to being a parent.

The first weeks after the birth of your baby are also called postnatal period. Your Central Otago Midwife will continue to guide and support your during the following 4-6 weeks. Initially this will be within the hospital, setting up a care plan and instructions for the team of nurses/midwives to follow. Then, the care will continue at your home. What can you expect from your midwife?

  • Guidance in the recovery of your pregnancy and delivery, physically and emotionally: Reflecting on your pregnancy and delivery experience, monitoring and discussing physical changes. Your midwife will take time for any questions you may have or anything you would like to discuss
  • Support with your baby’s nutrition
  • Monitoring of the well being of you and your baby; its growth and development
  • Enrolments and registrations
  • Organizing and performing screening tests
  • Contraception discussion and advice
  • Referral to your GP and Well Child Provider
  • Information on social (support) groups

During this period it is important to us that your confidence in the care of your baby is growing so that at 6 weeks postnatal you feel ready and equipped enough for discharge of our care. When feeling concerned you can ring us any time as we continue to carry the medical responsibility. We’ll discuss your concerns and advise you further. Sometimes it may be indicated to refer to your general practitioner or pediatrician. Any referral will be discussed and done timely.

From about 4 weeks you can expect your first Plunket home visit. For more information on Plunket click on the following link: www.plunket.org.nz

When your baby is 6 weeks of age the first visit with your GP starts for a medical check up and immunization. We will help to remind you about these appointments in the first 6 weeks to make sure everything is covered for you and your baby.

To support our clients in the best possible way, Central Otago Midwives have hospital grade Medela breast pumps available if the indication does arise. This is one of our additional free and voluntary services to which there is no entitlement.

Nutrition of your baby

During your pregnancy we will look into the options you have in feeding your baby. We ask what wishes you may have and what your previous experiences were. We will talk openly about any influencing factors such as lifestyle, work, family, baby’s health, your physical and emotional health and previous breastfeeding experiences. With information given and knowledge gained during pregnancy you will feel a little more empowered and supported in regards to nutrition of your baby. Our care in regards to the feeding of your baby is in a gentle and non-pressuring manner so that optimal outcomes can be achieved.


It is recommended to exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. It’s all your baby needs to eat and drink – it is warm, clean safe, nutritious and free. With the right help almost all mothers can breastfeed. It can take time for you and your baby to learn how to breastfeed so this is something we will prepare you for during your pregnancy. Our support will continue once baby is born and sometimes when breastfeeding is not going well, easily or pleasurably we involve skilled assistance to help you achieve your goals. When involving a lactation consultant we will work together in a team.

Formula feeding

There are many reasons why some mother’s choose not to breastfeed. You can expect our full support using alternatives. We understand that you may feel some pressure, sadness or disappointment when you are not fully breastfeeding and we will address these issues openly as there is nothing to feel ashamed of. Sometimes you can do a combination of breastfeeding and using formula. Together we will look into the possibilities that are present.

Babies that aren’t breastfed must only have formula up to 6 months of age. Other drinks can make them feel sick. It doesn’t really matter what brand of formula you choose to use as food laws warrant the composition of formula. There is a whole range on offer in bottles, teats and sterilizing equipment. We will help you find your way through formula feeding.


Once your baby is born the paperwork continues, but luckily we will do most of it for you. The one thing that you need to do is registering your baby’s birth. We will supply you with the information and instructions once your baby is born.

Registration of birth

Once your baby is delivered your midwife will send a ‘notification of birth’ to Internal Affairs. We will give you a ‘Registration of Birth’ form on which you can read instructions in regards to registering your baby.

Registration is the first official recognition of a baby born in New Zealand. By law, both parents of a child born in New Zealand must jointly notify the birth, as soon as reasonably practicable after the birth (within 2 months of the birth). This registration can be done online and is free: www.bdm.govt.nz/birth-registration

Registering your baby gives your baby rights, privileges and official status under the law. Generally, babies born in New Zealand will be citizens by birth if one of their parents is a citizen or is entitled to live in New Zealand indefinitely. Registering the birth gives your baby full and official recognition of their status as a New Zealander and the rights to:

  • Live in New Zealand
  • Travel on a New Zealand passport; and, later in life:
    • Have full access to education and economic rights
    • Stand for parliament and or local government, and/or
    • Represent New Zealand internationally in a variety of fields.

From the time your baby arrives, you may be entitled to payments from Inland Revenue to help with the costs.

The National Immunisation Register

The National Immunisation Register (NIR) is a computerized private information system that has been developed to hold immunization details of New Zealand children. During your pregnancy and after the birth of your baby we will inform you about NIR. Once your baby is born we will enroll him/her on the NIR, and you will be sent a ‘Welcome to the NIR’ letter, confirming enrolment and contact details. Some parents may ‘opt off’ putting any of details of their child’s immunisations on the NIR.

Authorized health professionals such as your family doctor, can use the NIR to check your child’s immunization status to ensure the appropriate immunization is given at the scheduled time.

Parents may also choose not to immunize their children and this will be recorded on the NIR as a declined immunization event to prevent recalls.

The National Health Index (NHI)

The NHI is a system used by public hospitals and other health and disability support services to assign a letter/number code to people who use their services. As our client you may have noticed this number on the first page of your maternity notes and/or hospital identity bracelets.

When your baby is born we organize a NHI number for your baby as well. It doesn’t matter whether your baby was born at home or in the hospital. We proceed to use this number for clinical and administrative purposes. The main purposes of this number are to identify your baby and to ensure that information is correctly associated with your baby’s record, so that there are no mix ups.

We will write your baby’s NHI number on the front cover of the Plunket Well- Child book as wellas in your maternity notes.

Screening tests for newborn babies

During your pregnancy we will also talk about newborn screening tests available to your baby. This information will be supported with pamphlets once your baby is born and verbally we will remind you about it. Don’t worry you are going to forget these things as we will make sure everything gets covered for you!

Heel prick

Participation in the heel prick is voluntary and completely cost-free. Your permission for performance of this test will therefor be requested. The heel prick can be important for the health of your child, which is why participation in the screening is strongly recommended. If you are sure during your pregnancy that you don’t want to take part in this screening, you can inform us of this before your baby is born.

The heel prick is done in the first week after birth. We can perform this at your home, or a hospital midwife will do this if you are staying in hospital. A small amount of blood from baby’s heel is collected on a special card (Guthrie card) and send of to the laboratory. At the laboratory they will test the blood for a number of rare diseases:

  • a disease of the thyroid gland,
  • a disease of the adrenal gland,
  • a type of anaemia (sickle cell disease),
  • a disease of the lungs (cystic fibrosis),
  • a number of metabolic diseases.

Early detection and treatment of these diseases can prevent or limit serious impairment of the physical and mental development of your child.

The result of the test is received within 2 weeks and we will always inform you.

Hearing test

This is also referred to as neonatal or newborn hearing screening. We will organize for your baby to be given a hearing test in the first month after birth to check whether his or her hearing is good enough to learn to talk. Good haring is important to your baby’s development. The sooner hearing problems are detected the sooner treatment can begin. This screening takes place at either Dunedin Hospital, during your postnatal stay or at the Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital in Alexandra. If you wish to organize the appointment yourself you can ring 0800 885544.

This test is quick and cost free. There are no special preparations to it, but it works best if your baby is calm and asleep. Your baby can remain in the cot or in your arms whilst the test is carried out.

The result of the test will be discussed straight away. If the baby has failed the test it will be repeated about a week later. This does not necessarily mean that your child cannot hear properly and more information will be provided.


For months there was no need to think about using contraception. But once your baby is born and you are ready for intercourse there will be definitely a need to get this sorted, as you are fertile. It is a misunderstanding thinking that you are not fertile whilst breastfeeding. Whether you feel your family is complete or you would like to have more children, we would like to help prevent an unplanned pregnancy. So before we discharge you, we will discuss with you your contraceptive options and needs as no woman is the same. For some options we are able to provide you with a script, whereas others would require the input of your family doctor.