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Your baby is due soon: getting you off to a good start

Last Updated 2:35pm, 11 August 2021

Welcome to Devon Public Health Nursing

Our Public Health Nursing Service provides health visiting and school nursing services across Devon. We deliver universal child and family health services, also providing ongoing additional services for vulnerable children and families, and working to safeguard and protect children.

The team is made up of health visitors, school nurses, staff nurses and community health workers.

Health visitors and school nurses are qualified nurses or midwives with post-registration qualifications with additional experience and training and education in child health, health promotion, public health and education.

Public Health Nursing Hubs

Our Public Health Nursing Hubs are a single point of contact for families and professionals for all Public Health Nursing Services across a specified geographical area. They bring together clinicians and administrative processes for phone advice, scheduling appointments, and triaging referrals and information received.

How can a Health Visitor or School Nurse help?

When you first meet your health visitor or school nurse, you will be invited to complete an assessment of your family’s needs. This will help us to plan the level of service you need.

  • Community – the Public Health Nursing Service will provide information about local services for families and support you to access these.
  • Universal – in addition to community assistance, all families are offered a range of health-enhancing activities through the Healthy Child Programme including advice and health reviews. Priorities include breastfeeding and the promotion of children’s emotional and physical health.
  • Targeted – responding to any specific concern such as post-natal depression, domestic abuse, child behavioural difficulties. The Public Health Nurse Team can provide individual help appropriate to your circumstances.
  • Specialist – for families who may have more complex issues. The Public Health Nurse Team will work with other agencies and organisations to provide additional more focused support.

What does a Health Visitor do?

Until your baby is around ten days old you and your baby’s care remains under the care of your midwife. Your Health Visitor will arrange to meet you when your baby is around two weeks old, often after your midwife has discharged you and your baby from their care. At this contact they will undertake an assessment of both yourself and your baby to ensure that our service gives you the appropriate support for your needs.

Your Health Visitors are part of a wider Public Health Nursing service that includes community health workers and school nurses. Devon Public Health Nursing provides a 0-19 service for children across Devon County Council area.

In this video Health visitor Maggie Fisher explains the role of health visitors and the support they offer to new parents

When will the Health Visiting service contact me?

Where possible you will be invited to meet a member of our Public Health Nursing team whilst still pregnant.

If we are not able to meet with you whilst pregnant, we will contact you a few days after your baby is born to arrange for a member of our team to visit you. This visit usually takes place when your baby is around 10 to 20 days old.

Connecting with your baby before they arrive

This video looks at how talking to your baby bump and making sounds during pregnancy can help with your baby’s brain development before birth.

A pregnant woman sitting with her hand resting on her bump

Communicating with your unborn baby

The benefits of communicating with your baby before they are born are really clear.

  • Why not try responding to your baby’s kicks with a stroke or a gentle push to see if your baby responds?
  • Why not encourage a lovely conversation between Dad and baby or sibling and baby – remember singing is amazing to connect with unborn babies?
  • Remember your baby can see light towards the end of pregnancy and will remember certain sounds.

Building close and loving relationships from birth

This video looks at how important it is to develop close, loving relationships with babies in their early days and weeks

Supporting relationships with your baby

Some ideas to consider before your baby arrives

  • How do you feel about holding your baby so that their skin is right next to yours with no clothing between?
  • How does Dad feel about holding your baby so that their skin is right next to yours with no clothing between?
  • Have you thought about how to manage visitors in the early days?
  • Have you discussed your upbringings – what was good? What was bad? Was your and your partner’s upbringing similar or different? How do you want to bring your baby up – what are the absolute ‘I wills’, the ‘I mights’ and the ‘we are not doing thats’?

Supporting relationships with your partner

This video explores ways to deal with arguments with your partner after your baby is born

Changing relationships

There’s no doubt that babies have a big impact on relationships. Talking about some key points before baby arrives can be really useful.

  • Have you considered how you both respond when you are tired?
  • Have you considered how you respond when you are stressed?
  • Have you spoken about sex once you have recovered postnatally?
  • Have you talked about how you might remain connected after your baby arrives?

Connecting with your baby through play

Watch this video for tips on using play to help your baby develop and learn

Safe sleep

Many parents spend the time before their baby arrives preparing their home environment. Thinking about safe sleeping is really important as part of this preparation.

The Lullaby Trust provide key safety information for you to consider in this preparation time. Watch this video from them about safer sleep for babies

Feeding your baby: Considering breastfeeding


What if I'm not planning to breastfeed?

Things to consider

  • Have you read the NHS guidance on sterilising?
  • Do you understand how to make up formula?
  • Do you understand paced feeding and the benefits of this?
  • Do you understand different formula milks and recognise you should only ever give your baby first stage milk in the first year, unless recommended by a medical practitioner?
  • Do you understand feeding cues?

Unicef have produced this useful guide on Infant formula and responsive bottle feeding

Newborn hearing tests

You may have heard that your baby might have a hearing test at my Health visitor appointment.

In Devon for most babies we undertake the Newborn Hearing Screen at home during your first Health Visiting appointment.

This video shows a baby having their hearing screen.

Coping with crying

Babies cry for a variety of reasons. Many parents worry that they might not understand what their baby wants. Parents sometimes describe a crying baby as being completely and utterly overwhelming.

This website gives you lots of ideas about how to cope with crying: ICON – Babies cry you can cope – Advice and Support | ICON.

If you are a parent with a young baby that won’t stop crying please watch this video. It is from the perspective of the dad and shows how to use the ICON resources.

Further help and support

We have a duty health visitor working from our Public Health Nursing hub Monday to Friday 9 – 4.30. Please do contact them if you have any additional questions.

Contacting your Health Visitor

  • email your local Public Health Nursing Hub where a Health Visitor will respond to your query
  • Text us for health-based advice via our Chat health number; 07520 631721 and receive a response back via text. (This number cannot be used to book or rearrange appointment time)s.
  • phone your local Public Health Nursing Hub to discuss any queries with a Health Visitor.

Virtual Family Focus sessions

Devon Public Health Nursing are offering digital group sessions for parents to attend, covering a range of experiences that parents might face during the early days. These friendly virtual parent sessions are undertaken via Microsoft Teams and facilitated usually by one of our Community Health Workers.  We call this Virtual Family Focus.

You may want to consider attending the following virtual family focus sessions whilst still pregnant:

  • Focus on: Early feeding: getting off to a good start with breastfeeding
  • Focus on: Responsive parenting sessions – however you plan to feed your baby

To book your place email your Public Health Nursing hub stating your name, your due date, your email address, and your telephone number and which session/s you would like to attend. We will then send you an invite link.

We also work very closely with our partners and Children’s Centres.

Children’s Centres

Children’s centres offer families targeted support for a variety of situations. Children’s centres in Devon provide Early Help services to the whole family, from pregnancy through to age 19, when families most need support using the ‘team around the family’ approach.

Action for Children run the Children’s Centres in the Devon County Council area

There’s also a fantastic online option where you can talk to a family practitioner about a range of questions that you may have

There is also an online resource that supports parents in the preparation of becoming a parent, once baby has arrived and as your child grows right up to teenage years. It is free to all Devon families.

Solihull Approach Parenting Course

You can also access an online course that supports you in understanding your baby at a variety of different points in their life.

Solihull approach parenting courses graphic

What will I need to complete the online course?

All you need to get started is your access code, an up-to-date internet browser on a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone (the local libraries or your school may be able to provide access to this), and an email address. Go to the website and apply the code Tamar when prompted. You will be asked for your email address and a password of your choice. This is so that you can return to the site, sign in and your account will remember that you have access to the course(s) and will resume from where you last left the course.

Other sources of information and advice that you may find useful

A signpost with 2 signs on against a blue sky


If you would like to provide us with any feedback on any part of our service at this time, we would be delighted to receive it.

Please use the QR code or follow the link to complete our simple feedback form QR code