6-8 weeks mother and baby check

The 6-8 week check is important for looking after both you and your baby. However, as you know, COVID-19 has placed a huge challenge on the on the NHS and, if this screening opportunity has been missed due to current circumstance, here is some advice about what you should look out for.

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Your baby

Your baby should have had a full physical examination soon after birth. This will have picked up many, but not all, of the problems which we look for during the 6-week postnatal check.

If your baby does not have a 6-8 week check, you should ask yourself the following questions. If the answer to any is “yes”, you should contact your health visitor or GP.

Eyes

  • Do you think your baby can’t ever fully open both eyes?
  • Do you think your baby doesn’t make good eye contact and hold his/her gaze at you?
  • Do you think that your baby doesn’t follow your face if you move your head from side to side when standing near him/her (less than 1 metre)?
  • Do you think that your baby’s eyes shake/flicker/ wobble?
  • Do you think there is something unusual about, or in, your baby’s eyes, for example, the dark central area (pupil) looks cloudy or the eyeball is an unusual shape or size?
  • If the whites of your baby’s eyes are yellow, contact your health visitor or GP.

Hips

  • When you change your baby’s nappy, do you find that one leg cannot be moved out sideways as far as the other?
  • Does one leg seem to be longer than the other?
  • Do you have any other concerns about your baby’s hips?
  • Heart (If the answer to either of these is “yes”, you should speak to someone the same day)
  • Does your baby seem breathless or sweaty, at any time, especially when feeding?
  • Does your baby have blue, pale, blotchy, or ashen (grey) skin at any time?
  • Remember: If the answer to any of the questions above is “yes”, you should contact your health visitor or GP.

You

During the 6 week postnatal check:

  • You'll be asked how you're feeling as part of a general discussion about your mental health and wellbeing.
  • You'll be asked if you still have any vaginal discharge and whether you have had a period since the birth.
  • Your blood pressure will be checked if you had problems during pregnancy or immediately after the birth.
  • You may be offered an examination to see if your stitches have healed if you had an episiotomy or caesarean section.
  • If you were due for a cervical screening test while pregnant, this should be rescheduled for 12 weeks after the birth.
  • You'll be asked about contraception.
  • If you're overweight or obese, with a BMI of 30 or more, you may be weighed. Your doctor should give you weight loss advice and guidance on healthy eating and physical activity.

If this screening opportunity has been missed due to current circumstance, it’s really important to contact your health visitor or GP if:

  • you're feeling sad or anxious – looking after a baby can sometimes feel overwhelming. Do not feel you have to struggle alone or put on a brave face. It's not a sign that you're a bad mother. You need to get help, as you may have postnatal depression. Your doctor or health visitor can provide help and support.
  • you're having trouble holding in your pee or wind, or you're soiling yourself with poo
  • having sex is painful
  • you're not sure if you have had 2 doses of the MMR vaccination – if you have not had these, your practice nurse will offer them with a gap of at least 1 month between doses. You should avoid becoming pregnant for 1 month after having the MMR vaccination.

Further information regarding the 6-week postnatal review can be found on the NHS website.

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