In most areas, your midwife will give you a letter to deliver to your doctor’s surgery. Once this has been delivered, your baby will be put onto the system at your surgery and you should be contacted to arrange a six-week check-up appointment for both you and your baby. If your baby is six weeks old and you have not heard from your doctor or received information, it is advisable to contact them and ask for a postnatal check-up. You could ask your health visitor who should also be able to advise you of what should happen in your area.
The main aim of the check-up is to make sure that you are well and are recovering from your baby’s birth. It is also a time where you can ask any questions that you have about you, your body and your baby.
All areas may have different ways of carrying out the postnatal check but for most areas, you will visit your doctor and:
- You may be weighed and you can ask advice about losing your baby weight, starting diets and exercise, if this is something you would like to do.
- Your urine may be tested
- Your blood pressure will be checked
- You may receive an examination to check your stitches, the size of your uterus and that your muscles have all returned to normal.
- If you have a smear test due, your doctor may arrange an appointment for you to return.
- You may be asked about any vaginal discharge
- You may be asked if your periods have returned
- You will be asked about your contraception method
- You may be asked if you carry out home examinations of your breasts and be given information on how to do this
- You may be asked about bladder control
- If you are not immune to rubella, you may be offered an immunisation
- Your emotions should be discussed, whether you feel very tired or unhappy
- You may discuss your support network of family and friends who can support you
Most doctors will also carry out a check on your baby at the same time, although in some areas you may have to make a separate appointment for your baby.
There is no need to worry or prepare for your baby’s check-up although you will need to take your baby’s ‘personal child health record’ with you (this is often a red book) as your doctor will record all the results and comments in this book.
During the appointment, the doctor will ask you how baby is being fed, sleeping and coping on a daily basis. This is your chance to ask questions if you are worried about sleepless nights, extreme crying, colic, milk and anything else worrying you about your baby.
Your doctor will check your baby to ensure she is growing well and healthily. Your baby’s heart, lungs, genitals and spine will all be checked to ensure they are growing and developing without cause for concern. If your baby is a boy, the doctor will also check that both his testicles have descended. Your doctor will also make sure that your baby does not have a heart murmur and that the heart is beating as it should. Your doctor will also check your baby’s naval area to ensure your baby does not have an umbilical hernia.
Your doctor will also listen to your baby to see if she can gurgle, coo and cry, will check her grimace and smile and will check to make sure she can focus on objects with her eyes and move her eyes to follow the object move.
A hip check will also be carried out, which involves moving your baby’s legs around and check to make sure the legs are the same length and that the creases on each leg are symmetrical to each other.
Your doctor will also make sure that your baby has had a newborn hearing check and will advise you on which immunisations your baby is due.
If your doctor is concerned about your baby’s health or development, you will be asked to return for another appointment or referred to a specialist. Your doctor will explain his findings and you will be able to ask any questions that you may have.
by Jenny, mum to William and James