You will usually be discharged from the labour ward or birthing suite within a few hours of birth. Some mums will be advised to remain in hospital for a bit longer after their baby is born. You and / or your baby may require more care if you have had a more complicated birth experience, or if you have any health issues. The maternity team work together with you to get you and your baby well enough to go home as soon as possible.

Discussion between you and the health professionals will be carried out regularly to agree and update a personalised plan of care for you and your baby. Your postnatal stay will be appropriate to you and your baby’s individual needs.

After you have given birth you can usually go home after a few hours. However, you may wish to stay in overnight for some support, or we might recommend staying a little longer if you or your baby need any additional monitoring. Partners are welcome to stay overnight with you and we normally have a pulldown bed / mattress for them. Partners will be responsible for their own food and drink.

We have open visiting hours during the day. Visitors will need to park in the main carpark and walk over to the Birth Centre, as we have limited parking available which is reserved for women attending the Birthing Centre.

More information about the Birthing Centre at Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals.

If you are allocated a single room during your stay, your partner will be allowed and encouraged to stay overnight after your baby has been born. A recliner chair is provided. Partners need to bring in their own pillows, bedding and towels. Partners may use the en-suite facilities in single rooms. Partners will be responsible for their own food and drinks whilst staying on the Maternity Unit. There is free Wi-Fi available for all women and visitors.

If the unit is very busy and you are well enough, you will be moved to a shared room with up to four mums. Your partner will not be able to stay overnight if you are moved to a shared room.

If your baby requires care in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), you may be given a parents’ room on the SCBU so you can be close to your baby.

More information about the Maternity Unit at Dorset County Hospital.

The postnatal ward has 16 beds: there are 3 bays, each containing 4 beds. There are also 4 single rooms that are allocated to mums who have a high clinical need.

Single rooms may be available for private use for a charge of £75 per 24-hour period.

Chamomile Room, with an ensuite, may be available for a charge £175 per 24 hours.

Rooms cannot be booked in advance, but you can express your interest during pregnancy. Alternatively, you can ask about availability of our amenity rooms following the birth of your baby. Mums who have the clinical need for a single room will take priority.

Transitional Care is an 8-bed ward for babies who require some extra help and support, but who don’t need to be care for in the NNU (Neonatal Unit). Mums remain in hospital with their babies. The main care for these babies is carried out by the mums, with professional support.

If your baby requires additional care, they will go to the NNU. Mums with babies in the NNU will usually have a single room. Occasionally, when the unit is busy, we will try to place mums whose babies are in the NNU together in a 4-bed bay. You can visit your baby in the NNU whenever you like, there are no visiting restrictions for parents.

Find out more information about the labour ward at Poole Hospital.

Caring for you and your baby

The postnatal wards are staffed by midwives and maternity support workers. Obstetric doctors, neonatologists (doctors who specialise in babies), advanced neonatal practitioners, anaesthetists and physiotherapists visit the wards regularly to review you and your baby. They will explain and keep you up-to-date with you and your baby’s care.

Each day, whilst you are in hospital, a midwife will discuss your plan of care with you and examine you when necessary. They will be looking after your physical and emotional health. The midwife will be assessing things such as your blood loss, checking your stitches or caesarean wound. Your dressing will be removed after 24-48 hours.

You will be asked how you are feeling emotionally. This is a good time to discuss any worries you have about you or your baby, or if you are feeling low in mood. It is really important to let the staff know how you are feeling so that you can be given the best possible care and the most appropriate support.

Medicines on the ward

We provide pain relief regularly for you depending on your needs. Some women may require more pain relief than others, and it’s very important that you tell your midwife if you are not coping well with the pain as this will make your recovery more difficult.

The midwives will need to know if you are taking any regular prescription medications. Please bring these with you when you come into hospital. Dorset County Hospital ask women to bring in their own paracetamol and ibuprofen for pain relief, which you will then be able to self-administer once your baby is born, ensuring you stay in control of your pain relief needs. Please hand these medications to the midwife on arrival to the Maternity Unit so they can be recorded.

Some women are advised to have a 10-day course of anti-coagulants (drugs that prevent blood clots). We will give this to you by injection and show you how to continue the injections when you go home. Any other medicines that are prescribed during your stay, such as antibiotics, will be given to you to take home.

Support with feeding your new baby

We will help you to care for your baby and give you the information you need so that you feel confident when you take your baby home. Care will include things like showing you how to care for your baby’s skin, check their colour and tone, look after the cord, how to change nappies and how to dress your baby.

We practice keeping your baby close to you as this will help you both get to know each other, promote bonding, and help you to recognise feeding “cues” when your baby is hungry.

All staff in all the Maternity Units are trained to support mums with breastfeeding and formula feeding. Support will be given with your chosen type of feeding, to make sure you feel confident about feeding your baby when you go home. If you are struggling with this and need more help, ask your midwife for extra support.

If you choose to formula feed your baby, you need to bring in a starter pack of your chosen milk with you as we don’t provide it. If you need a longer stay in hospital, ask staff about sterilising facilities so that you can use powdered formula and your own bottles.

Newborn and infant physical examination (NIPE)

All babies have a full examination within 72 hours of birth to make sure they are adapting to their new life. This will be carried out by either a doctor, advanced neonatal practitioner or midwife trained in this examination. You can be present for the examination and are welcome to ask any questions or raise concerns you may have about your baby. The best time to complete the check is when your baby is quiet or asleep.

The examiner will pay particular attention to the skin, head, eyes, ears, heart, tummy, hips, spine and genitalia.

It is helpful if you can get your red child health book ready for the examiner to complete. Your health visitor will give this to you when they visit you towards the end of your pregnancy, but don’t worry if you don’t have it yet as it can be filled in later if necessary.

Occasionally babies will need to be separated from mums for medical procedures such as x-rays or specific tests. We will minimise this time as much as possible and keep you fully informed.

Keep us all healthy

All hospital staff are trained in infection prevention and control, so we ask that you and your visitors regularly use the hand gels on the wards, especially when entering and leaving areas.

Flowers and plants are not permitted on the Maternity Ward.

Soap and water should be used before handling food, preparing feeding equipment, after changing your baby’s nappy and after going to the toilet.

We ask that friends and family don’t visit for at least 48 hours if they have had diarrhoea and/or vomiting.


The maternity units are locked to maintain safety for everyone. We ask that you don’t let anyone in and out of the units. University Hospitals Dorset Maternity Unit have an electronic security tag system, which is attached to your baby’s ankle. This remains in place until you are discharged.