Your Newborn’s 6-Week Checkup
What happens when I arrive? The doctor will start by asking you about the general well-being of baby, and doctor will have notes from your pregnancy.
All babies, and new moms, are brought for a 6-week postnatal checkup to ensure he or she is healthy and thriving.
What happens when I arrive?
The doctor will start by asking you about the general well-being of your baby – how he is sleeping, feeding, etc. The doctor will have notes from your pregnancy and birth to review any health issues that may have occurred. The results of any blood tests, such as the Guthrie (heel prick) test, will be recorded and the doctor will also check your baby’s weight, length, breathing, heart, reflexes, and perform a hip check, among other things.
What do I take with me?
Dress baby in clothes that are easy to take off and put back on, and then bring your normal nappy changing bag and a clean sleepsuit. Bring along a list of any questions you may have, and if you are unsure about anything during the examination, ask your doctor and note the answers in writing, so that you can re-read when you get home.
What does the doctor look for?
From head to toe, there are various things that the doctor will examine. Doctors are well practised in examining young babies and the check-up should only take a short time.
The checklist includes:
Head: the size and shape of a baby’s head varies – however, very large or very small heads can signify other things. The circumference of baby’s head will be noted, and the head checked for the two fontanelles (soft spots); the first, at the back, should be closed at six weeks, while the second at the front should be closed by 18 months.
shape and position of the ears will be checked for genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, which has characteristically low-set ears. You will be asked if baby responds to loud noises, and the ear canal will also be examined. Don’t get worried if baby doesn’t respond to the doctor’s clap immediately, as some babies take their time to respond and hearing will be checked again at a later stage.
you will be asked if your baby turns his head to bright objects or lights, and if he follows your face with his eyes. Tear ducts will be examined and the eyes checked for any visible abnormalities.
the mouth should be pink and moist. The doctor will check for tongue-tie or cleft lip/palate. White patches on the tongue may indicate thrush, which will need treatment. Appearance of any early teeth will be noted.
Heart and lungs:
the doctor will listen to baby’s breathing. If you have noticed your baby is particularly pale or has difficulty breathing while sleeping, let your doctor know.
Hands: fingers will be counted and creases on the palms checked. Creases should be pink when pulled flat. Your baby’s tightly clenched fists, typical in newborns, should be starting to unfurl.
Arms and legs: these will be examined for symmetry, good muscle tone and movement.
the size, shape and appearance will be checked. The umbilical cord stump should have fallen off and the wound site examined for any signs of infection. If you have noticed oozing from the site, let your doctor know.
the labia will be examined for signs of fusing or abnormalities on girls, while the boy’s penis is checked to ensure that the urethra opens at the tip. The testes will be examined to see if they are descending. The anus on both sexes will be examined.
the doctor will move the hips in a running motion to check for a condition called congenital dislocating hips. The same test would have been performed before you left the hospital.
the doctor will examine baby for signs of talipes (club foot).
colour, elasticity and texture are checked. Notes are made of birthmarks, such as Mongolian spots or strawberry birthmarks.
Weight and height:
both will be recorded.
automatic responses to movement and the tightening of fingers around the doctor’s hands will be checked to ensure the central nervous system is operating well.