After you give birth in one of our birth centres or labour wards, you will move to a postnatal ward to recover before you go home.

Patient information

How long will I stay in hospital?

Most women stay in the postnatal ward for one night and then return home. Women who have had a caesarean section can expect to stay in hospital for two to three days. If you have just had your second or a subsequent baby and you had a healthy birth with no complications, you may be able to return home within six hours of giving birth.

What will happen on the postnatal ward?

Within 72 hours of giving birth a midwife, doctor or nurse will offer you a newborn and infant physical examination (NIPE). This will include screening tests designed to identify potential health problems as early as possible. In most cases, the examination won’t find anything of concern. If a potential problem is identified, your baby may be referred for further tests.

Can my partner stay with me?

While you are recovering in the postnatal ward, you and your partner will have an opportunity to get to know your new baby. While we encourage your partner to stay with you as you recover, we cannot offer beds for partners. We suggest that your partner brings a pillow and blanket, as well as food and some books, or a computer or tablet. Because there will be other women recovering there, we will ask your partner to sign a code of conduct to affirm that they will respect all patients and staff on the ward throughout your stay.

What is transitional care?

Some babies require additional support after birth. This is called transitional care and includes carefully monitoring your baby and may involve giving your baby intravenous (into the vein – IV) treatment or phototherapy if appropriate while you are recovering on the postnatal ward. If your baby requires transitional care, we will often provide this care at your bedside so you can keep your baby close.

What if my baby requires care in the neonatal unit?

Some babies require more specialised care and may be transferred to the neonatal unit. If this happens, we will take a photo of your baby to give to you and once your baby is settled in the neonatal unit, your partner will be able to visit them. Once you are well enough to move around, you will also be able to visit your baby.

What happens after I leave hospital?

Once you are ready to go home, we will transfer your care to your community midwife and your GP. As soon as you leave hospital, your care will be overseen by your community midwife – you will not need to return to hospital unless your care team specifically asks you to.

At one day, five days and 10 days after you give birth, your community midwife will check on you and your baby. If all is well and your midwife has no concerns about your health or the health of your baby, you will be discharged from midwife care. From then on, you will liaise with a health visitor to discuss your child’s care or return to your GP with general issues.

What if I need help with breastfeeding?

We have a team of breastfeeding support volunteers on Edith Dare postnatal ward who can give mother-to-mother support to new mothers at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea.

The team, who are volunteers with Imperial Health Charity, all have invaluable experience having breastfed their own babies. They have also undergone NCT peer support training in breastfeeding. If you are on the ward and need extra support and someone to talk to about feeding, they will come around and ask if you need any support or advice. If you need help with breastfeeding, please ask for one of the volunteers to come and see you.

Patient information leaflets