During the first week
You will usually meet your public health nurse during your first 3 days at home with the baby.
Visit from the public health nurse
You will be visited at home by your public health nurse (PHN) during your first 3 days at home with the baby. If you had your baby in a hospital, they will let the PHN know when you have been discharged.
If you are on a Domino scheme (midwife-led antenatal care), your first visits at home will be from a midwife. They will then hand over your care to your PHN.
Your community midwife will notify the PHN if you had a home birth provided by the HSE. You will be visited by the PHN after you have been discharged from your midwife's care.
This is the first time you will meet your PHN. They are there to support you and your family. The PHN will usually weigh and examine your baby. They will carry out a neonatal examination (examination of your newborn baby) and also a maternal health assessment (a check-up for you).
The PHN will give advice on feeding, parenting and safe sleep for your baby. They will also give you general tips about child safety. They will answer any queries that you may have.
The PHN will provide information and support on parenting and on local resources available. Ask the PHN if they provide 'well baby' clinics. You can have your baby weighed and discuss their progress at these clinics.
The PHN may visit you again if needed. The PHN is available at your local health centre and will continue to see you and your baby at intervals over the next 3 and a half years. The PHN is there to offer you and your baby support. Ask them questions about any concerns you may have.
Heel prick test (newborn bloodspot screening)
During your baby's first week, you will be offered newborn bloodspot screening. This is known as the 'heel prick test'.
You will be asked for your consent. It usually takes place in your home. However, if you remain in hospital longer than 72 hours after the birth of your baby, it may take place in the hospital.
Your baby will be screened to see if they are at risk of a number of rare conditions. These are:
- cystic fibrosis
- congenital hypothyroidism
- phenylketonuria (PKU)
- maple syrup urine disease
If these conditions are identified early it means that babies can be treated as soon as possible.
It begins with the midwife or public health nurse gently pricking your baby’s heel to collect some drops of blood onto a special card. Your baby may feel a little discomfort. You can help by making sure your baby is warm and comfortable, and being ready to feed and cuddle them afterwards.
If your baby does not have any of the conditions tested for, you will not be contacted. If you wish to find out the result of your baby's test, you can contact your public health nurse. A repeat sample may be needed if the results are unclear.
If your baby is at risk of having one of these conditions, you will be referred to a healthcare team.