Your six-week postnatal check-up is one appointment you definitely shouldn't miss.

When is the postnatal check-up?

Your doctor will normally schedule a postnatal check-up four to six weeks after you have your baby. This may be earlier if you have other medical issues during the pregnancy. He will check on your physical recovery from pregnancy and delivery, see how you're doing emotionally and address other problems you may be facing.

What should I discuss with the doctor?

You may have questions about your labour and delivery, postnatal issues like breastfeeding, birth control, exercise and sex. It helps to note down beforehand the questions and issues you want to discuss.

What usually happens during the physical exam?

  • Your weight and blood pressure will be taken.
  • Your abdomen will be checked to ensure there's no tenderness. If you've had a Caesarean section, the incision will be examined.
  • Your doctor will ask if you have any breast-related problems like engorgement or infections.
  • You will be examined to make sure you're healing well.
  • A pap smear will also be performed to detect abnormal cell changes in your cervix if it's at least six weeks after delivery.
  • If you suffered from gestational diabetes mellitus during your pregnancy, an oral glucose tolerance test will be performed to ensure that your glucose levels have gone back to normal.
  • You will be asked about your mood as part of a general discussion about your mental health and wellbeing.
  • The various options of birth control available may be discussed to help you decide which is most suitable for you. Do note that your fertility can return surprisingly fast, especially if you're bottle-feeding your baby. Even women who are solely breastfeeding can sometimes start ovulating again within a few months. Waiting for your first period may be too late to start birth control as you may have started ovulating before this — which means you may get pregnant before you even realise you're fertile again. It's advisable to wait one and a half years between pregnancies to allow your body to recover sufficiently and be ready for your next baby.

What else should I take note of?

Don't feel like you have to wait for your appointment date if you have any physical (heavy bleeding, worsening abdominal pains, fever, wound swelling or discharge) or emotional issues like depression. If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your obstetrician or return to the hospital as soon as possible.

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By Associate Professor TAN Thiam Chye Head & Senior Consultant, Dr Janice TUNG 
Senior O&G Resident, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific
Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore

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