Postnatal care for you and your baby

Introduction

Postnatal care involves medical check-ups for you and your baby, after your baby is born. Your postnatal check and your baby's 6-week check can be done by your GP during the same appointment.

There are many physical and emotional symptoms you may experience after giving birth. It is important you allow your body time to recover.

However, you should contact your GP, midwife or public health nurse if you feel worried about any of these symptoms or that something is not right.

If your new lifestyle with a young baby is making you feel low, you can get help and support.

Get help in an emergency

If you have any thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, contact your GP or your local GP out-of-hours service immediately. You can also call the emergency services on 112 or 999.

Postnatal check-up for you

If you have had a normal delivery, you will have a postnatal check-up after 6 weeks. This is usually carried out either by your GP or your obstetrician. Your GP or obstetrician will discuss any health problems with you. They may also examine your wound if you had a caesarean section or a tear.

Your postnatal check may also include:

  • Checking your blood pressure, particularly if you had high blood pressure during or after your pregnancy
  • Weighing you – if your body mass index (BMI) is high, your doctor will give you some advice on ways to reduce this

You may also want to ask your doctor for advice on breastfeeding.

Your GP or obstetrician can advise you on options for contraception. If you are due a cervical screening, they may schedule a screening for 3 months after the birth.

Protecting your mental health

You may experience emotional symptoms after giving birth. This is quite normal after having a baby and is sometimes called ‘the baby blues’. You can discuss your feelings with your doctor during your post-natal check.

You can also contact your GP, midwife or public health nurse before your postnatal check if you feel worried about your mental health or that something is not right. Postnatal depression affects 10 to 15% of women within the first year of giving birth. Whether you have mild or severe symptoms, there are postnatal supports available to help.

Postnatal check-ups for your baby

Under the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme (the scheme that provides free antenatal and postnatal care), your GP will examine:

  • your baby at 2 weeks, and
  • both mother and baby at 6 weeks

The 2-week check

The visit at 2 weeks is primarily to re-establish contact with your GP and to check how you and your baby are getting on.

The 6-week check

You can either go to your GP or your maternity hospital for the 6-week check.

Your GP or hospital paediatrician will examine your baby to check their development. They will check your baby's weight, length, head circumference and hips. They will also discuss your baby's feeding patterns and general health with you, and allow you to discuss any concerns you might have.

Your public health nurse (PHN) will continue to carry out developmental checks on your child at different stages:

Developmental checks find out if your child is growing properly. They also check if your child is able to do things that children of the same age are able to do.

These checks are sometimes called examinations. Your PHN will contact you to arrange a time for each of these appointments.

Further information

The HSE has more information and advice on pregnancy and birth and caring for babies and children, including guides on feeding, sleeping and common health conditions.

Page edited: 9 December 2021