New Mums: Once The Baby Arrives | DETTOL® Health For More
Breadcrumbs

Once the baby arrives

Your Stay in Hospital

Although ‘superbugs‘ (germs that are resistant to antibiotics), viruses and bacteria are present in many environments, you are more vulnerable whilst in hospital. Pregnant women and babies have a higher risk as their immune systems are generally less able to fight germs.

The first step in protecting yourself and your new baby is to be aware of and follow good hygiene practices. The simplest method is frequent and thorough handwashing, for you, the staff, and any visitors. Also ensure that you and any visitors use a hand sanitiser when entering or leaving the ward. Staff should also wear protective gloves or use a hand sanitiser before touching you.

Below is a list of other tips to help reduce the risk of picking up an infection during your stay:

  • Have a shower or bath and wash your hair before going into hospital.
  • Bring only the essential possessions you will need for you and your baby and use disposable items (e.g. toiletries) where possible.
  • Have freshly washed pyjamas or other sleeping wear and something for your feet, such as slippers.
  • Mention to staff any illness you, or someone you have come into contact with, have recently had.
  • Always wash your hands before eating or touching the baby, and after using the toilet.
  • Safely dispose of any medical waste in the correct bin.
  • When returning home, make sure that you wash clothes at a high temperature (at least 60°C), or with a laundry disinfectant at 40°C, especially underwear. For your baby’s clothes, don't use washing powders with enzymes (bio powders) or fabric conditioner, as they may irritate your baby's skin. Always rinse clothes thoroughly. Frequently wash bed linen, towels and dish cloths. You should continue to follow handwashing procedures and general surface cleanliness.

Home Birth Tips

Many women now choose to have their baby at home, rather than in hospital. If this is your chosen place of birth, it is important to ensure your home is clean – not just visibly clean, but hygienically clean too, which means disinfecting as well as removing surface dirt:

  • Ensure that you, your partner and the midwife regularly and thoroughly wash hands or use a hand sanitiser.
  • Always wash your hands before eating or touching the baby, and after using the toilet.
  • Have a shower or bath and wash your hair.
  • Have freshly washed clothing.
  • Ensure that surfaces you and the baby may come into contact with are cleaned and disinfected.

Preparing For a Home Birth

  • Let your midwife know you’re planning a home birth and discuss it with her.
  • A month before your due date, arrange the room you plan to give birth in so it’s comfortable. Ensure there’s plenty of room either side of the bed for your midwife to reach you. Make sure the room where your baby will be born is warm.
  • Try and be reasonably near the bathroom. This makes life much easier.
  • Make sure you’ve bought or hired a TENs machine if you plan to use one.
  • Hire or buy a birth pool if you’re hoping for a water birth.
  • A week or so before you’re due, your midwife will bring you a home birth medical pack – the contents will be sterile so don’t open this.
  • Have some clean towels to hand and prepare a table for your midwife’s equipment. Most home births cause very little mess – nothing that a waterproof sheet on the floor and bed can’t cope with. Midwives bring supplies of large absorbent pads to protect surfaces and they will clear up after the birth.
  • Try and arrange some extra help for a few days after the baby is born.
  • Have access to a telephone.
  • Pack a bag just in case you do need to be transferred to hospital.

Protecting Your Baby From Germs

One of the keys to keeping your baby healthy is to protect them from germs. This is so important for your new baby, as their immune system isn't fully developed yet and they may not yet have received their appropriate vaccinations.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are a quick, safe and extremely effective way to help protect your baby from infectious diseases like tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and polio. Once baby has been vaccinated against a disease, their body will be able to fight it off much more effectively.

Although it can seem early, babies born prematurely also need to start their vaccinations at two months of age so they are not left vulnerable to infection. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor.

Umbilical Cord Care

Immediately after birth, the umbilical cord is clamped close to your baby’s naval with a plastic clip and then the cord is cut. A small piece of umbilical cord is left in place which takes up to a week to dry out and fall off. You should keep the area clean and dry, and allow air to get to it. Make sure that baby’s nappy is below the navel to keep it from getting soiled; if it does get dirty, wash the area with fresh cotton wool and water and dry gently with a clean towel. Avoid touching the cord but if you do, wash your hands thoroughly before and afterwards.

Strategies for Reducing the Spread of Germs to Your Baby

There are simple ways that you can help protect your baby – you just need to be careful and diligent in making these routines a standard part of your day. It's important to keep the nursery as clean and germ-free as possible now that your new baby is home. The following strategies can help.

Handwashing

  • Make sure that you wash your hands before you touch your baby. This will help prevent you from spreading germs like those that can cause cold and flu, and food-borne illness on your hands.
  • It's important that anyone else who touches the baby – family members, visitors and baby sitters – follow this strict policy, too.
  • Always have hand sanitiser on hand in case soap and water are not available.
  • Always wash your hands again as soon as you are done caring for baby, such as after feeding or changing their nappy.

Cleaning and disinfecting the nursery

Cleaning and disinfecting the nursery safely is important. Cleaning means physically reducing the dirt and germs on surfaces – using soap or detergent and water – in combination with physical action such as scrubbing. When you disinfect with a sanitising wipe or disinfectant spray, however, you are actually killing germs present on surfaces.

  • In the nursery, disinfecting includes changing tables, mats, and other surfaces or implements that could have become contaminated through changing nappies or been exposed to other bodily fluids. Often this can include floors and walls.
  • If the surface, toy or other item that you are disinfecting will come in direct contact with your baby, be sure to rinse it well with clean water after you have finished disinfecting it.
  • Keep surfaces, toys and clothing clean and dry, as germs can survive and multiply more rapidly on damp surfaces.

Baby changing

Take special care to protect your family against germs when changing your baby’s nappy:

  • Use a clean changing mat and disinfect it with an appropriate disinfectant or antibacterial cleanser after use.
  • Seal disposable nappies in a plastic bag. If using a nappy bin, empty, clean and disinfect regularly.
  • Put solid waste from washable nappies in the toilet, not in the sink.
  • Launder emptied washable nappies separately on a hot wash (at least 60ºC) using a non-biological detergent and laundry disinfectant.
  • Don’t change nappies in the kitchen or eating areas.

Preventing cross-contamination

Cross-contamination happens via indirect contact, for example, a person can pick up germs from a surface, rather than directly from raw food or a person who might be ill.

That means that even if you've just cleaned your hands, if you touch a surface that is contaminated – like a cutting board with raw meat juices or dirty nappy bin – your hands are immediately contaminated again, which can then spread to your baby when you touch them. Cold and flu germs from surfaces can easily be spread this way, too.

You can help prevent this type of situation by cleaning and disinfecting any surfaces that have been exposed to potential contamination, so that these don't become a source of cross-contamination.

In addition, always make sure that cleaning your hands is the last thing you do before you touch your baby.

Strategies for visitors

There are two primary things to consider when visitors drop by to see your baby.

  • They must wash their hands thoroughly before touching the baby.
  • The visitor cannot see the baby if they (the visitor) have a cold or other illness/symptoms, or if they could be contagious (for example, if someone in their own home is ill). Don't be afraid to ask that they postpone their visit.

Following these two guidelines will go a long way in protecting your baby from outside germs that could make them ill.

Breast and Bottle feeding

Breastfeeding has important health benefits for both you and your baby. Nutrients and antibodies in breast milk protect your baby from infections, which is particularly important while their immune system is developing. Breastfeeding also helps your womb return to its normal size, aids loss of weight gained during pregnancy, and can reduce the risk of breast cancer. If you have difficulties breastfeeding, ask your midwife for guidance. Make sure you wash your hands prior to breast feeding.

Bottle feeding with formula milk may be necessary if you are unable to breastfeed or choose not to do so.

Food Safety for Your Baby

Good food safety protects your baby from food-borne illness or ‘food poisoning’. Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable to diseases that can be spread in food, usually caused by unsafe handling practices. That's because their immune systems are not developed enough to fight off the disease-causing germs.

Bottles, Jars and Utensils

  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for preparing bottles before filling them with formula or milk. Observe use-by dates on formula cans.
  • Always clean and sterilise feeding equipment (e.g. bottles, teats, breast pumps) and teething rings.
  • Clean bottles with hot soapy water and a bottle brush before sterilising.
  • Make formula milk just before you need it; boil fresh tap water, allowing it to cool for no more than 30 minutes before adding formula.
  • Discard any left-over milk (expressed or formula) after feeding, don’t put it back in the fridge.
  • Expressed breast milk and prepared formula milk can be stored in sterilised bottles in the fridge for up to 24 hours, after which it has to be discarded.
  • Once you baby is trying jarred food, don't feed baby directly from a jar and then refrigerate it. Saliva on the spoon may contaminate the remaining food in the jar.
  • Ensure that the safety button on the lid of commercial baby food jars is down. If the jar lid doesn't pop when opened, don't use the product.
  • Discard any jars with chipped glass or rusty lids.
  • Use detergent and hot water to wash all blenders, food processors, and utensils (including the can opener) that come in contact with a baby's foods. Rinse well after washing.
  • Continue sterilising your baby’s bottles until they are at least a year old. Babies are vulnerable to the germs that cause diarrhoea and vomiting. These germs can develop very easily in milk. Bottles and teats have nooks and crannies that milk can collect in. Sterilising is the only way to ensure your baby's bottles are free from bacteria.

Bathing Baby

Cleansing your baby’s skin is important to keep it healthy and protected against infections and irritations.

  • Use cotton wool dipped in plain water to clean baby’s skin during the first few weeks. You may also use a mild liquid baby cleanser applied with bare hands or diluted to the bath water. Avoid using a wash cloth which can irritate the skin.
  • After bathing, pat dry your baby’s skin without rubbing.
  • You should only need to bath baby twice a week, until they start to crawl, but you should clean their face and neck, hands and bottom (in that order) every day.

Room Temperature

Take care that your baby is neither too hot nor too cold. A comfortable room temperature for the room your baby sleeps in is 16-20ºC.

Pets and Your New Baby

  • As soon as your baby is born (or comes home), give your pet a garment the baby has worn in to acclimate him/her to the new smell.
  • If your pet usually jumps up on you or is bonded to you, let an ‘unbonded‘ person hold the baby when entering the house.
  • Begin a gradual introduction, using a lead, two people, the baby, and a lot of praise.
  • Be watchful of protective signs from the pet, such as guarding food and water bowls, or guarding toys.
  • Never leave the pet alone with the baby initially.
  • Keep claws trimmed to reduce the risk of scratches.
  • Contact your doctor if your baby is bitten or scratched by any animal.

Sun Safety Tips for Babies

When venturing outdoors, take extra care to protect your baby between 11 am and 3 pm, when the sun is particularly strong. Dress your baby in lightweight clothing and a broad-brimmed hat, and use a sunscreen of at least factor 30. Babies under six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight.

Travelling with Baby: Controlling Germs

When you are ready to take your baby out to see family and friends, it is still important to keep the baby protected from germs. Here are some specific things you can do to help keep your baby safe.

  • Wash or clean your hands after touching public surfaces and before touching your baby. Ask others to wash/clean their hands before touching your baby, too. Always have hand sanitiser available.
  • Do not let someone who is ill touch or breathe on your baby. Don't hesitate to say no if someone asks to see or hold your baby and you'd prefer them not to.
  • Clean, disinfect and rinse any surfaces that will come in contact with your baby, such as a borrowed stroller.
  • Pack your changing bag to include the tools you will need for on-the-go feedings and nappy changes.

Storage of Cleaning Products

The following guidelines are recommended to ensure safe storage of cleaning products and other adult-use products throughout your home.

  • Store cleaning products in a locked cupboard or cabinet, away from food, and not accessible to young children.
  • Store products in their original containers and never remove product labels. Product information, precautions, and first aid instructions vary according to the product's ingredients.
  • Try to schedule routine cleaning of surfaces and dishwashing when there is a lull in activities, such as nap time. This prevents you from getting distracted when open products are nearby.
  • Put each product away immediately after removing the amount needed for the cleaning job at hand.
  • Rinse measuring cups after each use to avoid accidentally mixing products.
  • Dispose of empty cleaning product containers carefully and promptly.
    • Follow label instructions for disposal.
    • Replace the cap to protect children, pets and waste handlers.
    • Discard containers in a bin (or recycling bin, if applicable) that has a lid.
  • Never mix cleaning products. Products which are safe when used alone can sometimes become dangerous if mixed with other products, and can emit dangerous gases or fumes into your home.

Keeping Your Newborn Baby Healthy

Having a new baby and bringing them home is one of the most important times in many people’s lives. There are lots of things to think about to make sure that you and the baby stay as healthy as possible. This may sometimes mean being quite strict with friends and family with regards to good hygiene practice, but don’t worry, hopefully they will understand!

Quick Tips

  • Wash your hands before and after touching your baby. This will prevent you from spreading any germs that may be on your hands.
  • It's important that anyone else who touches the baby – family members, visitors and baby sitters – also follows this strict policy, too.
  • Ask any visitors who are ill, or who have come into contact with an ill person, to postpone their visit until they are better.
  • Always have hand sanitiser with you in case soap and water are not available.
  • Keep surfaces, toys and clothing clean and dry, as germs can survive and multiply more rapidly on damp surfaces.

Why is Good Hygiene Important? During the first few months of a new baby’s life, their immune system is still developing, which makes them vulnerable to germs and infection. Good hygiene practice will help protect them and you. What You Should Know The birth of your baby most usually takes place in the hospital or at home, and both environments need to be kept as visibly and hygienically clean as possible. This includes ensuring that any healthcare professionals, family and visitors follow some basic principles of good hygiene. Although ‘superbugs’ (germs that are resistant to antibiotics), other bacteria and viruses are present in many environments, you are more vulnerable whilst in hospital and so you need to take extra care. How Good Hygiene Can Help In the Hospital The most effective way to protect yourself and your baby from infection is through frequent and thorough handwashing (click here for more detail). This means you, the staff and any visitors. In addition you and any visitors should use a hand sanitiser when entering or leaving the ward. Staff should also wear protective gloves or use a hand sanitiser before touching you. Other things that you can do include making sure that you and your clothes are clean before going into hospital. Also, bring only the essential possessions that you will need, so that you reduce the risk of taking any germs home with you. It helps if you can use disposable items such as toiletries for the same reason. You should wear something on your feet, such as slippers, and make sure that you mention to staff any contact that you may have had with illness before coming into hospital. When you bring your baby home from hospital, make sure that you wash all clothes at a high temperature (at least 60ºC or at 40ºC with a suitable laundry disinfectant), especially underwear. For your baby’s clothes, don't use washing powders with enzymes (bio powders) or fabric conditioner, as they may irritate your baby's skin. Always rinse baby clothes thoroughly to remove any traces of detergent. At Home If you have given birth at home, you will need to make sure that your home is hygienically as well as visibly clean for the birth.

When your baby is home, you will need to clean and disinfect any surfaces that the baby will come into contact with, including preparing the nursery. Disinfect changing tables and mats, and other surfaces or implements that could have become contaminated through changing nappies or been exposed to other bodily fluids. This can include floors and walls as well.

It is essential that breastfeeding mothers practise good hygiene, including washing your hands before and after you feed the baby or use a breast pump. A daily shower or bath provides sufficient cleansing for your breasts and nipples. You should also wear a clean nursing bra every day, as long as you are leaking milk. You will probably need to wash or change your bra daily because it inevitably becomes soiled with milk. If you wear breast pads, change them frequently, as moist pads can harbour germs.

If expressing milk, wash your hands and ensure all equipment used to store breast milk is properly cleaned. Breast milk can be stored in glass bottles, hard plastic bottles or freezer bags. If using plastic freezer bags, use the bags that are designed specifically for storing breast milk. For breast milk stored in the refrigerator, use plastic bottles. Remember to store the expressed breast milk in small amounts, and date it so you can then use a rotating system of first-in, first-out. Frozen breast milk can be thawed in the refrigerator, under warm running tap water, or in a bowl of warm water. Before feeding the breast milk, gently shake the container to ensure an even temperature and to mix the layers. Use the breast milk within 24 hours and never refreeze it. Because bacteria from the baby's mouth can get into the milk, never store and reuse a bottle of breast milk once your baby has been fed from that bottle.

Good food safety will protect your baby from food-borne illness or ‘food poisoning’. When using baby food from a jar, make sure it is in date, the safety button on the lid is down, and you prepare it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t feed baby directly from a jar and then refrigerate the jar, as bacteria can grow even when refrigerated. Don’t put an unfinished bottle back in the fridge either, for the same reason. Continue sterilising your baby’s bottles until they are at least a year old to prevent contamination from germs that cause diarrhoea and vomiting.

Vaccinations are a quick, safe and extremely effective way to help protect your baby from infectious diseases, like tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and polio. Once baby has been vaccinated against a disease, their body will be able to fight it off much more effectively.

Although it can seem early, babies born prematurely also need to start their vaccinations at two months of age so they are not left vulnerable to infection. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor.

More information

Categories