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Safety for maternity patients: Safety guide for maternity patients and their family and friends

Safety for Maternity Patients

Safety guide for maternity patients and their family and friends

Everyone—patients, their families and friends, healthcare providers, and healthcare leaders— has an important part in making healthcare safe. Be aware, be informed, and be involved. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions or want to know more about what you read in this handout.

It’s Your Baby!

  • Don’t give your baby to anyone who doesn’t have hospital identification.
  • You have the right to say “no” if you’re not comfortable with a request to take your baby for a test or to be examined by a doctor or nurse.
  • When hospital staff bring your baby back to you, they will check your arm band and your baby’s arm band to make sure they match. Hospital staff will only give your baby back if the arm bands match.

Caring for New Mothers

Tell your nurse, doctor, or midwife right away if you have:

  • pain in your chest or trouble breathing
  • bleeding that is soaking a pad in 1 hour or less
  • a very bad headache that won’t go away
  • vision that is blurry or you’re dizzy
  • pain, redness, or swelling in your legs
  • breasts that are overfull, hard, or painful
  • C-section incision pain that is getting worse
  • trouble passing stool or urine (using the toilet)

Washing Your Hands

Clean hands are the best way to stop spreading germs and to keep your family healthy. Make sure everyone who holds your baby washes their hands first.

Other times to wash your hands are:

  • if they look dirty
  • after using the washroom
  • after changing a diaper
  • before feeding your baby
  • after sneezing or coughing
  • before making or eating food

Keeping Your Baby Safe

There are many things you can do to keep your baby safe. If you have concerns about your baby such as choking, your baby’s breathing, colour, or feeding, speak with your nurse, doctor, or midwife.

Safe Sleep

The safest place for your baby to sleep is in the cot or crib. Always put your baby to sleep on their back. Don’t put anything in the cot or crib, including loose blankets and toys.

Never Shake Your Baby

Never shake your baby for any reason. Babies have weak neck muscles and heavy heads. Even a few shakes can cause serious damage or death.

Use a Car Seat

Always use a car safety seat, starting with your baby’s first ride home from the hospital. Car seats should be the right size for your baby and have a Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) sticker.

Keep Sick People Away

Keep people who feel sick away (e.g., a runny nose, cough, fever, or upset stomach) from your baby. They shouldn’t be near your baby until they’re well.


If your baby has yellow skin, tell your nurse, doctor, or midwife. Jaundice can sometimes make your baby very sick.

Preventing a Fall

New mothers sometimes feel dizzy or faint—use your call bell to call for help. Have someone help you the first time you get out of bed after the birth—don’t get up alone.

In hospital, don’t carry baby in your arms if you leave your room—put baby in the cot.

Newborn babies kick and wiggle, and can fall. It can happen very fast, even if you think your baby is too young to move much. Always stay with your baby when they’re on a high place like a change table or bed. Keep one hand on your baby the whole time.

To see this information online and learn more, visit


For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.

Current as of: September 4, 2019

Author: Maternal, Newborn, Child and Youth Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services

This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.