Your 6-Week Postnatal Checkup
Around six weeks after the birth of your baby, you will have a postnatal check-up.
This can be done either at the hospital or by your GP. This examination is to check that you are recovering from your pregnancy and the birth, particularly if you have had a difficult delivery or a C-section. It also gives you a chance to discuss any problems you may be having and to have your questions answered.
What to expect
Your doctor will most likely ask you questions about your labour, how it progressed and how the delivery went. S/he will ask you about post-birth bleeding, how long it lasted and any discomfort or pains you have experienced. If you are concerned about anything, do ask for advice or air your concerns.
In some cases, your doctor may conduct a physical examination by feeling your abdomen (palpating) to check for any tenderness, checking your blood pressure and checking your stitches, if you had any. If you had a pregnancy condition, such as gestational diabetes, your doctor may look to test your blood sugar and offer advice on maintaining a dietary changes. If you had a C-section, your doctor will check the incision is healing correctly.
Some women may have already had post-baby sex by the time their six-week check comes around – others may be too nervous, sore or exhausted to even think about it. If you are worried about how sex will feel after giving birth, or whether there will be any discomfort, speak to your doctor. Even if you haven't had sex yet, but plan to use birth control when the time comes, use this appointment to speak to your doctor about the most suitable contraception option for you.
"Some women may have already had post-baby sex – others may be too nervous, sore or exhausted to even think about it"
Motherhood is hard, particularly in the early weeks and months, so if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, take the time to discuss these feelings with your doctor. Many new moms expect a little 'baby blues' at the beginning as their hormones adjust and all the new life changes become reality, however it is important not to downplay or ignore how you are feeling. Your emotional and mental health is just as important as your physical health. Your doctor will be able to advise and help you – and if you do have postnatal depression, s/he will be able to offer support.
If you were pregnant when you received notification from CervicalCheck for a smear test, then the smear test can be delayed until three months after you give birth. A woman does not need a smear test after having a baby unless she is due to have a smear test (i.e. if it has been three years or more since her last test).
Women aged 25 to 44 should have a smear test every three years, and after two consecutive normal results women aged 45 to 60 should have a smear test every five years.
To arrange a smear test you can contact a registered medical professional of your choice to make an appointment. Thousands of GPs, practice nurses, women's health, family planning and Well Woman clinics all over Ireland are registered, and you can see a full list in the 'Find a Smeartaker' section of the CervicalCheck site.
CervicalCheck also sends invitation letters to women who are on the CervicalCheck register. You can check that you are on the register in the 'Check Your Registration/Eligibility' section of the site. If you are not on the register you can add or update your personal details.
If you have any questions you can call CervicalCheck on Freephone 1800 45 45 55.