After a recent poll showed that half of new mums find their post-birth check up inadequate, we’ve looked into exactly what you are entitled to from your six-week postnatal check up – and how to make sure you get the support you need.
Called the six-week check up, your first post-birth doctor’s appointment might actually take place anytime between six and eight weeks after your baby’s birth.
It’s a great way for your GP to make sure you’re coping OK with parenthood and recovering from the birth well – and the perfect opportunity for your GP and your baby to meet.
Keep in mind that every doctor will handle this check-up differently and time limitations can mean you’ll feel all of your issues haven’t been addressed. So get any questions you have ready for him – don’t be afraid to get out a long list of issues when you get there.
How to book your 6-week check up
You may be offered an appointment at the hospital or midwifery unit where you had your baby, but you’ll probably need to book an appointment with your doctor. While a 10-minute appointment is the normal length you’ll be given, you can ask for a longer session if you think that isn’t long enough for all your concerns.
‘GPs want to ensure that the six week check is a positive experience but we have a long checklist to get through and it can be difficult to do this within the standard 10 minute appointment so we would always encourage new mums to request a longer slot if possible,’ says Royal College of GP’s Chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker.
‘It is also important the six week check is not seen as a one off, but as part of the ongoing relationship that the GP builds up with the new mum and her baby over time,’ she says.
What happens at your post-baby check up
The NHS website explains all of the physical checks that will be done to test your health and recovery – don’t feel badly about asking if you think your GP’s missed anything.
• You’ll be weighed
• Your urine will be tested to make sure your kidneys are working as they should and that you haven’t got an infection
• You’ll have your blood pressure taken
• If you had stitches during your baby’s birth, either vaginally or following a C-section, these may be examined to check they’ve healed
• Your GP may talk to you about booking a smear test if you haven’t had one in the last three years
• If you aren’t immune to rubella and you weren’t given an immunisation after your baby’s birth, you will be offered one
• You’ll be asked if you’ve had a period since your baby’s birth and if you’re having an vaginal discharge
What you should tell your GP
As well as a physical exam, your GP should talk to you about your emotional wellbeing – and your contraception options. Be honest with him about any problems you’re having, whether you’re feeling really low and overwhelmed, aren’t sure about something or you constantly need the loo.
The more he knows, the more he’ll be able to help you – or let you know if you need to book an appointment with a specialist.
Before you leave, give your list a quick once over to check that you and your GP haven’t missed anything.