Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

6-week postnatal check

7-minute read

Key facts

  • Most women recover physically from pregnancy and their baby’s birth within 6 weeks.
  • Your GP or maternity care provider can do your 6-week postnatal check.
  • At your 6-week postnatal check you'll be asked a range of questions about your physical and mental health.
  • The 6-week check is an opportunity to talk about any concerns you might have.

What is the 6-week postnatal check?

Generally, women are advised to have a postnatal check 6 weeks after having their baby. This is normally with either their maternity care provider or doctor. Sometimes there are benefits to being checked earlier than 6 weeks.

The 6-week postpartum check is a comprehensive check to assess how your body has recovered after your pregnancy and baby's birth. By 6 weeks after birth, most women have recovered from labour and childbirth.

It is also an opportunity to review your general health and wellbeing. Your physical and emotional health are equally as important.

The 6-week postnatal check is also a chance to see if any conditions relating to your pregnancy have resolved, for example, hypertension or gestational diabetes.

Why do I need to have a check at 6 weeks?

The postpartum check is a good opportunity to talk about your baby's birth, especially if this did not progress as you would have liked it to. Understanding why interventions took place and if they are likely to happen again, can help to heal birth trauma and disappointment. If your labour and baby's birth were different to how you had planned, you may have also been offered an opportunity to 'debrief' shortly after their birth.

For many women, the 6-week postnatal check is the first time they've had an opportunity to talk about how they have recovered after their baby's birth and how they are adjusting to caring for a new baby. The first few months of life can be particularly challenging and the reality of caring for a baby can be very different from what you might expect.

Who will I have the check with?

This will depend on who supported you through your pregnancy. Most maternity care providers recommend the postnatal check is done with them. If this isn't possible, it may be more convenient to see your GP.

  • If you had your baby in a public maternity hospital, it is likely you'll be advised to see your GP.
  • If you were supported by a private obstetrician or midwife during your pregnancy, they will do your check.

What physical checks will be done?

Before you have a physical check, your healthcare provider will ask you a series of questions relating to how you are feeling.

  • Your GP or maternity care provider will check your blood pressure and weight and may listen to your heart and chest.
  • If you're breastfeeding, you may have your breasts and nipples checked.
  • Your tummy will be felt to check your uterus has returned to its pre-pregnancy position in your pelvis.
  • You may have a vaginal examination, and if you’re due, you may have a cervical screening.
  • You will also be checked for any signs of bladder or bowel prolapse.
  • If your baby is also seen, they will be examined and weighed and their head circumference and length will be checked. It will help to take your baby's Personal Health Record book along with you to the appointment. You'll also have the opportunity to talk about any concerns you may have with your baby.

You will be asked if you are:

  • feeling well and healthy
  • how your baby is going and if you have any concerns about them — you're likely to be asked about your baby's feeding and sleep too
  • how you're managing caring for yourself and your baby
  • if you have any concerns about yourself or your baby
  • if you're experiencing any pain or discomfort — this can be more common after a caesarean or instrumental (forceps or vacuum extraction) birth
  • if you're having any problems weeing or pooing — constipation is a common issue in the first few weeks after childbirth and the postnatal check is an opportunity to discuss solutions
  • recovering from stitches if you had a tear or episiotomy — your healthcare provider will also check your perinium, and by 6 weeks after birth, the tear or episiotomy should be healed and not painful
  • still bleeding and if so, how much
  • back to having sex again — most women are advised to wait until they are fully healed and feel comfortable before resuming sex

What tests and investigations might I have?

You may be advised to have a blood test to check your iron count. This is recommended for women who have lost more than the average amount of blood during birth and afterwards.

You may also have blood tests to check your thyroid function. It's not uncommon for women who've had a baby to develop hypothyroidism — an underactive thyroid.

Will my baby also have a health check?

Depending on the length of your appointment, your baby may also be checked. It can help to book a longer appointment so you can both be checked. Many GP clinics book 'back-to-back' appointments so the baby can also be checked and have their first vaccination as well if they’re 6 weeks of age.

What else will be discussed at my 6-week check?

You will have the opportunity to discuss any concerns you are having about yourself and your baby. it can help to write a list as a reminder of what you want to discuss.

It’s likely your GP will ask if you have thought about having sex again and discuss contraceptive options.

What resources and support are available?

After having a baby, it can be helpful to know where to go for extra support and help. Here is a list of support services.

  • Your local health service, particularly Child Health Services.
  • The Continence Foundation of Australia has a list of continence resources. Some women have problems with incontinence in the early weeks and months of having their baby.
  • PANDA is a service which supplies support for parents experiencing issues with mental health and wellbeing. One in five new mums and up to 1 in 10 new dads will experience postnatal depression and anxiety.
  • The Australasian Birth Trauma Association assists women who need support with emotionally healing after a traumatic birth.
  • ForWhen is a mental health support service for expecting and new parents.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Back To Top

Need more information?

After Having A Baby | Family Planning NSW

Your body goes through lots of changes in the weeks after giving birth. You may have heard the terms postpartum and postnatal used to describe the time after birth. Postpartum is the time right after you give birth. Postnatal describes the 6 weeks after you give birth.

Read more on Family Planning Australia website

Your physical and emotional wellbeing

Bringing your baby home can be a wonderful time, but it can also be chaotic and exhausting. Life with a new baby is demanding and unpredictable.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Looking after your body after having a baby

Over the last 9 months, your body has had to change to accommodate your growing baby and preparing to give birth.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Mum's first few days after giving birth

A lot happens in the first few days after the birth of your child. Find out what you can expect to happen.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

What is the fourth trimester?

The fourth trimester is the first 3 months after having your baby. Learn how to prepare yourself and your baby for the physical and emotional changes.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Postnatal depression

Many women experience the 'baby blues' after pregnancy, but when feelings persist beyond these early days, it may be a sign of depression.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Anxiety and Depression during pregnancy and the postnatal period

Read more on Black Dog Institute website

Depression and Anxiety during Pregnancy and following Birth

It is widely thought that having a baby should be one of the happiest times of your life. However depression and anxiety are common for women during pregnancy and the first year of their child’s life, with as many as one in five women affected.

Read more on RANZCOG - Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website

Baby blues

The baby blues are common in the first few days after giving birth.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Postnatal exercise - Better Health Channel

Always consult with your doctor or midwife before starting any postnatal exercise program.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.