Kids Health Info

Maternal and Child Health Services

  • The arrival of a new baby makes a big difference to family life, bringing both new joys and new challenges. Even if it is not your first baby, a new baby will mean some changes to your family lifestyle. The Maternal and Child Health Service can help you with these changes by providing information and support.

    The Maternal and Child Health Service is a free service available to all families with children from birth to school age. There are Maternal and Child Health Centres located in each local council area.

    The service is run by Maternal and Child Health Nurses (MCHNs) who are registered nurses with extra qualifications in midwifery and maternal and child health. These nurses have the knowledge and experience to deal with child and family health issues and problems.

    What your Maternal and Child Health Nurse can do for you

    Your MCHN offers information, guidance and support on issues including:

    • breastfeeding
    • child health and development
    • infant and child nutrition
    • maternal health (including emotional health)
    • parenting skills
    • home safety for children
    • immunisation
    • relationships (including your relationship with your baby)
    • local support services.

    Most Maternal and Child Health Centres run some additional sessions, such as baby-settling seminars, new parent groups, breastfeeding assessment and enhanced MCHN services for particular needs. Ask your MCHN about the services that are provided in your local area.

    MCHNs will put you in touch with other mothers in your area and give you the chance to form a new mother's group.

    How to access a Maternal and Child Health Service

    • After you have given birth to your baby, the hospital will contact your local Maternal and Child Health Service. A MCHN will call you a few days after you get home and arrange to visit you at home. You can contact them before this time if you have any concerns.
    • If you have not had contact with your local MCHN, e.g. if you have moved, or your baby has been in hospital for a significant time, contact your local council for details of the nearest Maternal and Child Health Service. Call them to make an appointment and let them know what it is for (e.g. development check, health concerns).
    • If you have your child's yellow or blue book (Child Health Record) that you were given when your baby was born, take it to each appointment so that your MCHN can record relevant information about your child's health and development.

    When do you need to visit your MCHN?

    There are certain times of development that are known as key ages and stages, and visits to your MCHN are scheduled to correspond with these stages. These key visits are outlined in the Child Health Record (yellow or blue book) and your MCHN should fill in the book at these visits.

    At these visits the MCHN will discuss:

    • The health and development of your child.
    • Physical and emotional effects on the family.
    • Your own health and wellbeing.
    • Any concerns you may have.

    You can call your MCHN at other times for advice or make an appointment to visit them if necessary.

    After hours help

    The Maternal and Child Health Line is a 24 hour telephone service (phone 13 22 29). Qualified MCHNs offer information, advice and referral to all families with young children.

    An interpreter service is also available.

    Key points to remember

    • The Maternal and Child Health Service is a free service available to all families with children from birth to school age.
    • Your MCHN offers information, guidance and support on issues about parenthood and child health and development.
    • There are key times when it is helpful for your child to visit the MCHN for assessment of their health and development.

    For more information



    Produced by the RCH Primary Care Liaison Unit (Kids Connect and MCHNs. First published March 2006. Reviewed in September, 2008.

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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.