Emergency: 911
Telecare: 811
Poison: 1-800-565-8161
5850/5980 University Ave., Halifax, NS B3K 6R8

What to Bring to the Post Partum Unit

What to Bring

For Yourself, we suggest:

  • 2 pens and some paper (we need you to keep track of your babies eating, urine and bowel movements, and you will also need to complete papers regarding your baby’s birth.)
  • Two nursing bras or good support bras
  • 12 breast pads
  • 24 sanitary napkins (super absorbent are required)
  • At least five pairs of underwear – no thongs as it is difficult to wear a peri-pad with a thong 
  • Shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant
  • Brush, comb, tissues
  • Slippers, nightgown/pajamas, nursing gown, housecoat
  • Special diet instructions (if any)
  • Small amount of money (for snacks/miscellaneous items)
  • Calling card number (if you have one)
  • Camera/video camera and film (and extra batteries)
  • Any medications you are taking 
  • Your watch or a small travel clock

Please note, your support person must bring his/her own supplies – including pyjamas – for their stay as well.

For Your Baby:

  • Two to three dozen diapers (approximately 12-14 used per day)
  • Diaper cream (i.e. Vaseline, Zincofax, Penaten)
  • Two undershirts
  • One or two take-home outfits
  • One receiving blanket
  • One heavy blanket
  • One CMVSS (Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) infant car seat removed from the box and assembled.  Please also bring the car seat manual with you, as it may be needed if you are having difficulties.  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.
  • If you choose to formula feed your baby, please bring your own READY TO FEED formula in small bottles, as we no longer routinely provide formula.  Single sized bottles can be purchased at most grocery or drug stores. Any bottles and nipples brought from home must be sterilized at home as there is no ability to sterilize them at the Health Centre.

Please Note, Pacifiers and nail clippers are not provided.  If you do bring a pacifier, you must sterilize it at home as there is no ability to sterilize it at the Health Centre. 


Infant Feeding

The IWK Health Centre promotes and supports breastfeeding. We will help you make informed decisions about your choice of infant feeding. Your health care team is here to support you and provide you with the best possible care for you and your baby.


Room Choices - Post-Partum Unit

There are three types of rooms available: private, semi-private (two patients per room) and ward (four patients 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 unless it is covered by your private insurance. It is important to understand that many women choose to have a partner or support person stay with them, so it can become very crowded in a semi-private or ward room.

Please consider what type of room you would like as it is very difficult to move patients around after they have been admitted, due to a large patient volume and increased birth rate.  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.  

Caring for You and Your Baby - Post-Partum Unit

You and your baby will be cared for by many members of your health care team using something called a ‘care path.’ A care path accurately records all care provided to you and your baby from the time of birth to when you go home and eventual discharge from postpartum care in your home. After you give birth, your health care team will work together with you and your baby to help determine when you are ready to go home – this means when you are able to care for both yourself and your baby. 

In many cases, you and your baby  will be ready to go home safely in one day (if you’ve had a vaginal delivery) or within  two to three days (if you’ve had a caesarean section) of giving birth. Before you leave the Health Centre, if you live within the HRM, you will have a pre-dis¬charge consultation with a Public Health nurse, who will provide follow-up care and support (including breastfeeding support) for post-partum moms. The nurse will check both you and your baby, answering any questions or concerns you may have. Your family doctor, Public Health nurse or nurses at the Health Centre are available for continued support and guidance in the days and weeks to follow.  If you live outside of the HRM, Public Health will make contact when you are at home regarding your follow up.  Public Health contact numbers are available on the Resource pamphlet that you will receive while in hospital.  If you don’t receive a pamphlet, just ask your nurse for a copy.  

Prior to discharge you will be shown (and receive to take home) a DVD on the Period of Purple Crying.  The purpose of this DVD 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 Syndrome.  

As well, your nurse will also show you a discharge teaching DVD – which will provide information regarding what to expect upon your return home.  You may also watch the discharge teaching DVD on line at:  http://youtu.be/vyZRvEbtDhY

In some cases, the care team may decide, based on your care path that you and/or your baby are not ready for home. If you are ready for home, but your baby must remain at the Health Centre for further treatment, you will need to be prepared to find accommodations outside of the health centre.  The nursing staff will provide information on local accommodations, like the Ronald McDonald House. 

Car Seats

At this time, the IWK Health Centre does not rent car seats.

When leaving the Health Centre to go home, your baby needs to be placed in a rear-facing car seat.

You can visit www.childsafetylink.ca or call 1-866-288-1388 or 470-6496 for a car seat clinic near you or for additional information.

Please note: Infants must remain in a rear-facing car seat until they reach 22 lbs and one year of age. Children should never be turned forward before age one, even if they weigh 22 lbs or more.  All car seats and booster seats must have a sticker with a maple leaf on it to be legal for use in Canada.  This sticker is called the National Safety Mark.  If a seat is only for children less than 22 lbs, the sticker will have CMVSS 213.1 on the outer edge.  If it is a seat for children from infants up to 30 or 40 lbs, it will have CMVSS 213.1 and 213.  If it is a seat for an older child over 40 lbs (a booster seat), it will have CMVSS 213.2.

A word of caution: Before using your car seat, make sure there are no missing parts and that it fits properly in your car.  Your car seat must be a CSA approved car seat and it is important that you learn to put the car seat into your vehicle before you have your baby. 


Child Tax Benefit, MSI & Birth Registration

You are now 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. 

Together, you and the IWK Health Centre are responsible for registration of your birth. You are encouraged to complete the birth registration documentation before you leave the Health Centre. 

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.

You have 30 days to complete the “birth registration." Joint request forms are required if parents are not legally married and you wish to register the baby in the father’s last name. This form can be completed while you are here, however both parents must be present.  Forms can also be completed within 30 days of the baby’s birth.  This form can be completed when you are discharged 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 divisionregistrar@iwk.nshealth.ca

Going Home

On the day you and your baby leave the Health Centre, please make arrangements to depart before 11:00 a.m. Small carts are available to help you move your suitcase and other personal belongings. If you must wait for a drive/pick-up later in the day, you will have to wait in the patient lounge.




breast health consultation

Approximately 375 breast surgeries will be performed annually at the IWK, with approximately 3,000 visits to the Breast Health Clinic.

Find out more about our Breast Health Clinic