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University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust

Postnatal care

Mothers and babies who have had a more complicated birth experience and who have not been able to go home directly from the Haven birthing suite or central delivery suite, will remain on the postnatal ward until they are fit to go home.

The ward is staffed by two midwives and two maternity support workers, who provide support for newly delivered mothers.

The length of stay on the postnatal ward will be dependent on the type of delivery the mother had and any postnatal complications. Where there are no complications, mothers may not spend any time on the postnatal ward and will be discharged directly from the Haven birthing suite or central delivery suite.

The ward is arranged in three bays which each contain four beds. There are five single side rooms which are allocated to mothers who have a high risk clinical need. (Single rooms may be available for private use for a small charge, however mothers with a clinical need will take priority.)

Mothers and babies who have had a more complicated birth experience will remain on the postnatal ward until they are fit to go home and we are here to help you to get fit and ready to go home as soon as possible.

Within 72 hours of birth your baby will have a full neonatal examination by a neonatologist or appropriately trained midwife either whilst you are in hospital, in the postnatal clinic or at home.

What to bring in

Each bed space on the postnatal ward has a small bedside locker with room for a change of clothes and toiletries. A cot is provided for your baby. This has cupboard space for baby clothing and changing items.

Only one small, cabin sized hold-all of essentials may be brought onto the ward. There are no facilities for storing large cases/excess luggage. You will be asked to take these home.

You will need:

For you

  • Hand-held notes
  • Any medication you are taking
  • Comfortable clothing – loose t-shirts with room for baby to be tucked in and held in skin-to-skin contact
  • Dressing gown
  • Slippers
  • Night wear
  • Nursing bra and breast pads
  • Ordinary or disposable pants
  • Two packs of maternity-size sanitary towels
  • Toiletries
  • Bath towel
  • A pen

For your baby

  • Nappies
  • Vest and babygro
  • If you have made an informed decision to formula feed, you will need to bring in a  starter pack of ready made infant formula milk (stage one or first milk).
  • Cotton wool

Please do not bring in a car seat for your baby until you are ready to go home.

Infant feeding

The St Mary’s maternity unit at Poole is committed to encouraging mums to breastfeed their babies and we would like you to be successful with this.

We believe that breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby, and we recognise the important benefits that breastfeeding provides for both you and your child. Our staff will offer support and guidance in the early days. Ask your midwife about the information and support available, and our parent education classes.

If you have made an informed decision to bottle feed your baby, you will be given the appropriate care and support, but the hospital does not provide formula milk, unless your baby requires it for medical reasons. In all other cases you will be expected to provide formula milk yourself. If you choose to bottle feed, please ensure that you bring in your own supplies of ready made infant formula milk for the newborn (starter pack). On average, your baby will require 6-8 feeds per 24 hour period so please ensure that you bring in sufficient supplies.

We want you to know that we are here to support you in whatever method of feeding you have chosen. Please check out the following links that may be useful to you.


Visiting Times on the postnatal ward are as follows:

  • Open visiting -  maximum two visitors at a time: 2-4pm, 7-8pm
  • One birthing partner and mother's own children: 10am-11pm
  • Facemasks are required in ward areas, if tolerable
  • Please observe 1m social distancing between you and any neighbouring bed wherever possible.

Please do not visit the postnatal ward if you have symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting or any other illness.

We do not allow children who are not baby’s brother or sister to visit.

We ask that there be no more than two people visiting at the bedside at any time for patient safety as well as to keep noise and disruption to a minimum.

We understand that an admission to the postnatal ward after your baby is born can be an emotional time for you and recognize that you may wish your partner or relative to stay overnight to support you .

Please note that the following rules apply to ensure the privacy, dignity, wellbeing and safety of all women and babies on the ward

  • Only one adult family member or partner may stay at any one time for support
  • Please ensure your partner has signed in and out at the ward reception desk
  • Curtains must remain open in order that staff can observe that you and your baby are well.
  • No alcohol or take-away food is permitted on the ward area
  • For reasons of infection control, please ensure that you and your partner wash hands regularly and use the alcohol gel provided
  • Please ensure that your partner remains fully dressed at all times
  • For infection control reasons, please do not share a bed with your partner and do not sit on other clean beds, similarly partners may not sleep on the floor.
  • All partners in shared bays must respect the privacy and dignity of other women, partners and babies and keep noise to a minimum overnight so that all mothers can get as much well-needed rest as possible.
  • Switch mobile phones off or to silent.
  • The security doors to the front doors are locked from 8.30pm. If your partner leaves the building he/she will not be re-admitted.
  • Facilities on the postnatal ward are limited to a reclining chair for partners who stay overnight; curtains provide the only privacy in four bedded shared bays. Please remember, you are there to support your partner and it is unlikely that you will have much opportunity to sleep.
  • Visitors' toilets are located on the ground floor and Partners will need to go home for wash facilities
  • Partners will have access to hot drinks but meals are not provided.

In accordance with the hospital visiting policy this privilege may be removed at any time for the safety and security of patients and staff

Respecting our staff and patients

The trust operates a zero tolerance policy on abuse towards staff or patients. If you are asked to leave, please do so.

Patient information

Please click on the links below to download information leaflets:

Caring for your wound after a caesarean section

Advice on third and fourth degree perineal tears during childbirth

Advice of third and fourth degree tears - advice for opening your bowels

Enhanced recovery programme following caesarean section


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