Public health nurses in Ireland are employed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to provide a range of healthcare services free of charge in the community. They are usually based in your local health centre and are assigned to cover specific geographical areas.
If you have had your baby in hospital in Ireland, you will be contacted by the Public Health Nurse (PHN), who will visit you shortly after you come home. They will have been informed of your baby’s birth, the type of birth and any problems you may have experienced during your stay in hospital. The PHN will normally visit your house within 24-72 hours to check how you and your baby are getting along and the number of subsequent visits she makes will depend on how well things are progressing with you and your baby. A PHN is qualified in nursing and has also completed specialist training in Public Health Nursing.
The PHN plays a major role in the care of a woman and her baby in the postnatal period following discharge from hospital and through the pre-school years.
Public health nurses can:
- Offer advice and support based on their extensive experience of babies and children.
- Help with any difficulties you are having with feeding your baby and run a breastfeeding support group at your local health centre.
- Check your baby’s general condition, take weight, etc. and observe for any signs of jaundice.
- Guide you on weaning your baby onto solid food.
- Run checks on your baby’s development including eyesight and hearing, motor development, speech development and general growth.
- Perform postnatal checks on you.
- Offer advice regarding your baby’s immunisation schedule.
How often are checks carried out?
The checks are generally carried out at three months, seven to nine months,18 to 24 months and three to four years. You will receive a reminder call from your PHN. If you do not, call your local health centre to make an appointment. The checks are not mandatory. The PHN is also a good first point of contact should you have any concerns about your baby’s development.
Your PHN is there to support you and will answer any other queries you may have about your own wellbeing or your baby’s. For more information on the role of the Public Health Nurse contact your local HSE office.
You will be automatically contacted by your Public Health Nurse following the birth of your baby. Contact information for your local health centre is available at www.hse.ie or in your public telephone directory.
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