Your health after having your baby is of vital importance and the postnatal checks at around six weeks are a necessary part of being a new mum. You will either make an appointment with your GP, or you can go back to your own midwife.
This is the perfect time to ask any questions or ask for advice on certain things. The postnatal checks are very straightforward and usually non-invasive. Your doctor or midwife will check your weight, blood pressure and general condition. They may also check to see how your stitches have healed, if you had any, and the progress of any other healing in your vagina or perineum if you had any problems during the birth.
They will also check to see if you have had a period since giving birth, and if your breastfeeding is going well, if this is the route you have chosen for your baby. It will also be important for the doctor or midwife to check that your bladder and bowel movements are normal. Remember that they have asked these questions many times to many different women, and however embarrassing it is to talk to people about, it is extremely important to ensure that you are fit and healthy.
You will also be asked questions about how you are coping, and how you are feeling as the health professional will try to ascertain if you are suffering from postnatal depression. It is not uncommon to feel low, irritable and tired as this is understandable following the birth of your baby but if these feelings linger or worsen, then you should confide in your doctor or midwife as they will be able to help you. Similarly, they will check to see if you are receiving support at home either from your partner and family and friends as a strong support network is very important. You are not expected to raise your baby completely on your own, as there are always mother and baby groups in your community and classes to ensure mothers are given as much assistance and encouragement as possible.
Your doctor or midwife will also ask about how much rest and sleep you are getting and will suggest ways of making sure you are not over-tired, which can lead to exhaustion. Again, this is where your support network comes into play and, if appropriate, expressing milk and allowing your partner to bottlefeed your baby at night sometimes so that you can sleep, may be an option. They will probably encourage you to accept help from others so that you can rest, even if this is as simple as having the laundry and vacuuming done once a week.
This health check is often the last routine check you will have after having your baby, so take this opportunity to ask lots of questions and set your mind at rest if you have been worrying about anything. They can also give you hints and tips about coping mechanisms, weight loss and exercise so it is a worthwhile appointment. You can still ask questions at any time by visiting your GP so do not worry if you think of other things that you may need to know at a later date.