The NCT and Netmums poll of more than 4,000 women reveals 26 per cent felt their postnatal check was rushed, with a fifth reporting that their check-ups lasted less than five minutes.
More than five per cent of respondents said they wanted to talk about how they were feeling with their GP but there was not time, and close to a third said they were not asked about emotional or mental health issues at all.
This is despite the fact that the six-week post-natal check is designed to ensure new mothers are recovering emotionally and physically, as well as provide an opportunity for mothers to ask any questions and sort out any problems they may have after giving birth.
More than 20 per cent of respondents admitted they were not truthful during the appointment about how they really felt, while 43 per cent stated that their GP did not understand their background or their babies’ ‘special circumstances’.
Of the women surveyed, 33 per cent did not know what to expect at the check, and 20 per cent said their GP and midwife told them different things.
Some of the respondents were not even aware of the six-week check.
Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the NCT, said, ‘The six-week post-natal check-up is a key opportunity to spot potential problems for new mothers. Problems such as post-natal depression can develop from this stage, as well as other physical and psychological disorders, so it is worrying that almost a third of women were not even asked about how they felt. Identification early on is crucial.
‘We need to ensure that GPs are aware of the right questions to ask, to be asking them directly and acting promptly in response when necessary. If a GP or midwife has concerns about a woman with a new baby, they need to have a robust referral system in place.’
Professor of evidence based midwifery practice at King’s College London Debra Bick said the survey findings add further evidence to the need to ensure all women are offered post-natal care, which is individualised and tailored to their needs.
She added, ‘Consideration now needs to be given to the potential to revise the content and timing of post-natal services if longer-term cost savings for the NHS are to be achieved and the health and well-being of women and their infants promoted.’