4 mins to read
Don’t worry this isn’t a test you pass or fail so nothing to get worked up about, just a general check-up on how you’re doing.
There’s no set time you’ll feel “normal” again – you won’t necessarily be having sex, going to the gym yet or wearing your pre-pregnancy clothes again yet either.
This is the ideal opportunity to ask questions if you have any concerns though – so don’t keep quiet if you have something you’d like to talk through. Whatever it is from bladder weakness and coping with fatigue to painful sex – remember your own health is very important and your doctor is there to help.
What to expect
Your doctor will just chat to you about how well you’re coping with your baby, how you are feeling physically and ask how well your body has recovered after the birth.
Your doctor will conduct a physical examination. How long it takes varies on what you have to say – if everything is fine you could be in and out pretty quickly. If on the other hand you are struggling emotionally or a physical problem connected to the birth it could take longer.
The overall aim of these checks is to see whether your body is recovering from giving birth, healing as expected and getting back to normal.
- Your urine may be tested to check your kidney function or an infection.
- Blood pressure will be measured.
- You’ll be weighed and given advice about healthy eating to help you lose any baby weight if you request it.
- You doctor may offer to examine your vagina to see if any stitches have healed and that muscles used in labour have sprung back into the correction position.
- You may also be offered a cervical smear test if you are due one.
- If you’ve had a caesarean your doctor may offer to inspect your scar or stitches if you’ve had an episiotomy (a cut in the perineum to make the vagina wider during delivery).
- You’ll be asked if you have any vaginal discharge and whether you have had your first period yet (if you are fully breastfeeding you won’t have had one yet).
- You may be offered additional vaccinations such as whooping cough or rubella if you are due for the shot.
- You might be asked about any bladder or bowel continence problems too which can be quite common after giving birth. If you are having problems don’t be embarrassed as your doctor can refer you for physiotherapy, prescribe drugs or to a specialist for repair surgery. Physiotherapists can give you one to one instruction on the exercises needed to improve the strength of your pelvic floor so that you can practise them regularly.
Your doctor may also ask about how you are feeling and whether you are feeling tired, if you are feeling down, upset or overwhelmed with your new responsibilities and if they do - don’t be afraid to mention it. This is a chance to get help if you are adjusting to new life as a Mum. Your GP is a good resource to discuss any issues you are having with parenting your baby, including sleep or feeding difficulties, they see a lot of new mums and could be parents themselves too – so could be a valuable person to share your thoughts and feelings with.
Sex and Contraception
- Sex: The 6 week check up is a good opportunity to discuss with your doctor about initiating sexual activity post pregnancy and address any concerns that you or your partner may have about this. The doctor will be able to let you know when it is safe for you and any precautions that you may need to follow.
- Contraception: Your GP will ask you what contraception you are using and be able to prescribe or recommend an appropriate product based on your needs. Remember as soon as you start ovulating again it’s possible to become pregnant so don’t get caught out – if you are only partially breastfeeding for instance you may start ovulating again and could conceive. And don’t think if you are breastfeeding that you are covered from falling pregnant, you can still fall pregnant even if you haven’t had a period yet.
I had a stress incontinence problem after Oliver was born but I was too embarrassed to mention it to midwife or health visitor. When I saw my GP for the six week check though I'd had enough and was desperate for help so plucked up courage to mention it. She was so nice about it and explained how common it was and referred me to physiotherapist, who has taught me exercises to tone my pelvic floor which have really helped.
Nicky, 29, mum to Oliver nine months.