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Post Partum After-Birth Unit (Family Newborn Care Unit)

The Family Newborn Care Unit helps by providing a safe and comfortable environment for staff to assess and care for families and babies after birth. This care includes teaching about normal changes in the body (including physical and emotional changes), baby care, breastfeeding, and transition to home. 

How we help

This is a very important time for you and your family to get to know your baby. Your baby has been very close to you during pregnancy and birth, and it’s natural and important for this to continue. As you get to know your baby through cuddling, touching and talking, you will see how quickly you will learn what your baby is telling you. Your health care team is here to support you and provide you with the best possible care for you and your baby. 

What to bring to the Family Newborn Care Unit for yourself:

  • Comfortable clothing for you to wear (slippers, pyjamas, nursing gown, housecoat)
  • Comfortable bra
  • At least five pairs of underwear
  • Water bottle. Filtered water is available on the unit
  • Sanitary napkins (super absorbent are required)
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, soap, shampoo, deodorant, brush, comb, chap stick, hair elastics)
  • Two pens and some paper (we need you to keep track of your babies eating, urine and bowel movements
  • Small amount of money (for snacks/miscellaneous items)
  • Camera/video camera
  • Any medications you are taking 
  • Your watch or a small travel clock
  • Phone charger
  • Health card, credit card

PLEASE NO SCENTS OR AROMATHERAPY: some patients and staff have serious allergies to scents
PLEASE ALSO NOTE: Your support person must bring their own supplies—including pyjamas—for their stay as well.

What to bring to the Family Newborn Care Unit for your baby:

  • Two to three dozen diapers (newborns use about 12-14 per day)
  • Newborn emery board/nail file
  • Clothing for baby to wear in the IWK (two to three sleepers and undershirts)
  • Clothing for your baby to wear home
  • One receiving blanket
  • One heavy blanket
  • One CMVSS (Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) infant car seat removed from the box and assembled. 

What to expect

When you arrive on the Family Newborn Care Unit, you'll be supported by nurses who will monitor the well-being of both you and your new baby. The nurses are also there to offer support, guidance, and information to help you learn about baby care, newborn feeding, as well as your own care. Your physician or midwife will check in on you daily to see how you're doing. They'll work with you to determine when you and your baby are ready to go home. In many cases, you and your baby will be ready to go home safely in one day (if you’ve had a vaginal birth) or two days (if you’ve had a caesarean birth).

A Public Health nurse will visit you during your stay. Public Health nurses are available for continued support and guidance in the days and weeks that follow discharge from the IWK. A Public Health Nurse will contact you after you have arrived home. You can also contact a Public Health Nurse if you have questions or need extra support. The Public Health contact numbers are available on the Community Resource pamphlet that you will receive while in hospital. If you don’t receive a pamphlet, ask your nurse for a copy, or read it here

IWK Health promotes and supports breastfeeding. We'll help you make informed decisions about your choice of infant feeding. No matter how you choose to feed your baby, your decision will be respected and your health care team will offer you education and resources to support your decision.

Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech staff will visit you during your stay on Family Newborn Care Unit. They’ll ask to do a painless simple hearing screening with your baby. Good hearing is important for speech and language development. If your baby is not screened prior to discharge the Newborn Screening program will contact you to arrange an outpatient hearing screening appointment for your baby. 

Read to Me! is a non-profit province-wide reading promotion program. A Read to Me! representative will deliver a “Read to Me!” bag to your bedside. The bag includes FREE books and reading resources for your new baby. The books are high quality and available in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, or Mi’kmaq. Special materials are available for families who are hearing impaired or visually impaired. If you're discharged before receiving your bag, please visit their website with your name, address, and baby’s birth date, and a bag will be mailed to you.

Prior to discharge you'll be shown (and receive to take home) a DVD or an app on the Period of Purple Crying. The purpose of this DVD or app is to provide new parents with information on what normal infant crying is and teach coping skills to deal with crying. The intent is to prevent incidents of Shaken Baby.

Your nurse will highlight a series of teaching videos that will offer you information on your own care as well as care of your new baby. These videos provide a wealth of information and can be viewed by going to the IWK Website. You can also find the videos on YouTube. Links to the videos are also available in the Community Resource Pamphlet.

Room choices
There are three types of rooms available: private, semi-private (two families per room) and ward (four families per room). The Nova Scotia Department of Health (MSI) covers the cost of a ward room, so there is no direct charge to you. There will be a charge for private or semi-private rooms, and this may be covered by your private insurance. Please ensure that you check your insurance plan and know your coverage. 

Many women choose to have a partner or support person stay with them. We encourage this support. 
Rooms are provided based upon booking as well as availability. We will attempt to give you your first choice of room when you arrive, however we cannot guarantee that your specific request can be accommodated.

TV and telephone
The payment for TV and telephone use is covered by private insurance if your insurance pays for the cost of a semi-private or private room. If you do not have private insurance that pays for the cost of a semi private or private room, then you are responsible for any TV or telephone charges. Please know that you do not have to order the TV or telephone service. If you choose not to order telephone services you will still be able to order your meals through the Dial-For-Dining program and receive incoming calls. 

Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the IWK.

Patients may order from a Dial-for-Dining menu during their stay at the IWK. You can order three delicious meals per day. There will be a menu in every room, if not, your nurse will offer you one. If you have a special diet or any dietary restrictions, talk to your nurse to make sure you get the right menu for you. Support people may also order from the Dial-for-Dining Menu but they must pay for their meal using a credit card.

Cots for support people
One cot is offered for the comfort of the support person who stays with a new mother. For safety reasons, please fold up when not in use.

Car seats
IWK Health does not rent or lend car seats. When leaving to go home, your baby needs to be placed in a CMVSS (Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) rear-facing infant car seat. Please also bring the car seat manual with you, as it may be needed if you are having difficulties. You nurse will review any questions you have about car seats in an effort to help you position your baby safely in the car seat. You are expected to have attempted to put the car seat in to your car yourself as staff cannot go to the car with you. Snowsuits and bunting bags are not recommended to be used for taking babies in car seats as the straps do not get snug enough—using them is not safe. See videos on the use of car seats.

Child tax benefit, MSI, and birth registration

You're able to apply for for MSI, Child Tax Benefits and Birth Registration at a kiosk right on the unit. The Provincial Vital Statistics Act requires that all children born in Nova Scotia be registered. You are responsible for registration of your birth. You have 30 days to complete the “Birth Registration”, however you are encouraged to complete the birth registration before you leave the IWK. If you complete the information via the kiosk, it is forwarded to Vital Statistics who then prepare a birth certificate. Please note, the IWK does NOT issue birth certificates.

If parents are not legally married and you wish to register the baby in the father’s last name you must fill out an additional form called the Joint Request Form. This form can be completed while you are here, however both parents must be present. This form should be completed within 30 days of the baby’s birth. This form can be completed by going to admitting, taking a number and any registration clerk can complete the joint request form. If you have any questions you can email the staff at

Accessing this Clinic, Program or Service

Women's/Adult Building -IWK Health Centre

5850/5980 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia