For many women the post-natal period is the Cinderella part of pregnancy. Much of the focus is on the care during pregnancy and labour and sometimes there are less resources put into looking after a mother after delivery, when many problems can occur.
Post-natal care is now mostly provided in the community rather than in the hospital so it is important that your doctors and community midwife are kept in touch with developments. In this country, a community midwife will visit you the day after you get home from hospital and will also make some follow up visits to make sure that you are healing properly if you have had any stitches and to make sure the baby is feeding well and putting on weight. After the midwife has seen that you and the baby are progressing well and has signed you off, a Health Visitor will pay a series of visits to continue to monitor you both.
The post natal check is usually done at about 6 weeks. This is to check on not only baby’s condition but also mother’s physical and psychological health. It is an important time to screen for the one in ten women who will have developed Postnatal Depression. This can usually be picked up by some general questioning or a formal questionnaire.
The physical condition of the mother can be assessed by taking her history, examination and sometimes some investigations if needed. By this time your blood loss, or lochia as it is known, should have changed from red to brown to straw coloured to almost nothing. Any anaemia should have returned to normal and any trauma to perineum or c section scar should be healing nicely. If you have had a Caesarean Section you may still experience blood loss after the birth, although not all women do.
It should be routine to enquire about bladder and bowel function and to pick up any possible problems with breasts such as cracked nipples and mastitis. See our section on Postnatal Infection
It is also an opportunity to debrief the mother about the progress in pregnancy, delivery and afterwards. There will be an opportunity to talk about contraception and spacing of any subsequent babies.
At this time you should be able to return to a normal diet and resume some form of exercise if you wish.
All women should be instructed in the importance of pelvic floor exercises to prevent incontinence and prolapse of the uterus and vagina. See our section on Pelvic Floor Exercises.
Click here to read about Sex after having a baby.
Click here to read about Rips and Tears.
Click here to read about Blood Clots.
Click here to read about Perineum and Prolapse.