If you have a child or children under the age of 5, you will have a named Health Visitor. The main role of a Health Visitor is ‘to offer support and encouragement to families’. The Health Visitor often works alongside your midwife during your pregnancy and then normally first meets you and your baby when your midwife signs you off her register shortly after the birth. (In some areas this may happen just before you are due). Your health visitor will then be there for you through the early years and right through to entry into primary school.
Health Visitors work closely with many other areas of the NHS, including doctors, district nurses, speech and language therapists, social workers and school nurses.
Your Health Visitor should be very helpful and caring. They do many useful things in the community and are able to offer advice and help in many different areas including:
• Advice on groups to attend with your child
• Help finding support groups including breastfeeding support, Parent support, Parenting courses
• Information on feeding, weaning, healthy eating, hygiene, safety and exercise
• Help with Post Natal depression, bereavement and domestic violence
• They can help with behaviour difficulties such as sleeping, eating, tantrums, teething, toilet training, cradle cap, rashes, reflux and constipation (to name a few)
• Help with the child’s growth and general development
• Referring your child for assistance in areas such as speech and language development, hearing problems etc.
In some areas your Health Visitor will visit you and your child to ‘check’ that you are both okay. These are sometimes referred to as the 9-12month check and the 2 and a half year check. These checks are nothing to be worried about and do not need and preparation. The HV will check your baby, weigh your baby, ask about their feeding and possibly check some skills that your baby might have. They may also ask you a few questions regarding how you feel and whether you need any information.
If you do not have a health visitor or wish to gain help from your HV, you can contact your doctors surgery, visit your local baby weigh clinic or ask at your local children’s or Sure start Centre.