This guideline covers the routine postnatal care that women and their babies should receive in the first 8 weeks after the birth. It includes the organisation and delivery of postnatal care, identifying and managing common and serious health problems in women and their babies, how to help parents form strong relationships with their babies, and baby feeding. The recommendations on emotional attachment and baby feeding also cover the antenatal period.

The guideline uses the terms 'woman' or 'mother' throughout. These should be taken to include people who do not identify as women but are pregnant or have given birth. Similarly, where the term 'parents' is used, this should be taken to include anyone who has main responsibility for caring for a baby.

 The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has produced guidance on COVID-19 and postnatal care for all midwifery and obstetric services.

Recommendations

This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Healthcare professionals
  • Commissioners and providers
  • Women having routine postnatal care, and their families

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

This guideline was commissioned by NICE and developed in partnership with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

This guideline updates and replaces NICE guideline CG37 (published July 2006).

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals and practitioners are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service. It is not mandatory to apply the recommendations, and the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and their families and carers or guardian. 

All problems (adverse events) related to a medicine or medical device used for treatment or in a procedure should be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency using the Yellow Card Scheme.

Local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with complying with those duties.


Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)