What Happens At The Six Week Postnatal Check Up?

Postnatal care is an extremely important part of the experience of becoming a mother.

Postnatal care is an extremely important part of the experience of becoming a mother. You will receive a huge amount of support during the pregnancy but when the baby arrives you may be feeling extremely vulnerable as you adjust to life with a baby.
There are two things at play during this time. On the one hand, you have just met a tiny baby who now relies on you for everything. On the other hand, you are recovering physically, mentally and emotionally from the life-altering experience of giving birth.
Regardless of how your birth panned out, there is a period of time where the body and mind must heal and make sense of it all. For this reason, postnatal care is extremely important.
As part of your postnatal care you and the baby will have a six-week check-up. In some cases, this check-up is carried out at the maternity hospital and for others, it is with their family GP.

After you have made the appointment with your GP (or with the hospital) you simply need to show up. It sounds easy in theory but getting out of the house with a six week old can be a case of military precision.
Give yourself plenty of time and ask for any help you might need to make this visit as stress-free as possible. For example, in poor weather conditions, a friend or family member may be willing to take you to the appointment by car. Arriving flustered and stressed may lead to you to forgetting to ask some of the questions you have been wanting to ask.
Those questions may be about your own body or the care of your baby and it is important that you have this time to air your concerns or queries with a professional.
At the appointment, your doctor will give you and your baby a checkup. They will most likely weigh the baby, remove their clothing and give them an overall check-up as well as asking questions about how they are feeding and settling into life outside of the womb. If you have any concerns such as colic or reflux this is a good time to air your concerns as they may be able to offer valuable advice or a prescription that could help.

Your GP will more than likely ask about your birth. They may physically examine your abdomen and check on your sutures if you had any. They may be from a Caesarian incision or from a tear/episiotomy site during vaginal birth. They will also ask you about your feelings towards the birthing experience.
Many women can experience post-traumatic stress or anxiety associated with the experience of giving birth. Your GP will be able to offer advice and any relevant referrals that could help you to heal in this regard.
Some basic health checks may also be carried out. The doctor may ask for a urine sample as well as checking your blood pressure. In cases where a woman had a disorder during the pregnancy (such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes), the various levels may be discussed, monitored and explored to ensure everything is as it should be or at least on the right path.

If you have already participated in postpartum sexual intercourse your GP may discuss contraception with you. This may seem a little bit odd but many women are extremely fertile around this time, even before their first postpartum period has arrived. They may also explore the area of your cervical smear to ensure you are up to date with the screening programme.

Apart from the physical checks, the GP has a duty of care when it comes to your emotional well-being. Many women experience the “baby blues” on some level but if you are feeling quite down or overwhelmed it is important to discuss this with your doctor. Managing and caring for postnatal depression is really important and there are so many helpful resources available to you. Discussing your emotional state with the GP is very important at this appointment.

Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveoflifing.ie.


Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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