Findings from a survey of 1,025 mums with children up to the age of two, reveal that nearly a third (31 per cent) were given less than three minutes to discuss their mental and physical health at their six-week postnatal check-up as most of the time was devoted to their baby.
Official guidance encourages doctors to enquire about a mother’s health at her six-week postnatal check-up with her baby.
However, the survey, carried out by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) found that a quarter of respondents were not asked about their emotional or mental health at all during the appointment.
The statistics have been released as part of the NCT’s #Hiddenhalf campaign, which calls for the six-week check to be fully funded so health professionals have the time to give all new mothers their own appointment, rather than squeezing it in with an examination of their baby.
The charity says that without funding, many GP surgeries are unable to provide specific maternal appointments.
Sarah McMullen, head of knowledge at NCT, said, ‘Many new mums don’t find it easy to admit they are struggling so it’s impossible to make them feel comfortable enough to discuss their concerns in less than three minutes.
‘It’s vital mothers are given adequate opportunity to discuss any health problems to prevent them from getting worse. If they aren’t given the support they need at this crucial time it can have a devastating impact on the whole family.’
Dr Stephanie de Giorgio, a Kent GP, said, ‘As a GP who’s looked after postnatal women for years, I know many of them can find it difficult to talk to us for all sorts of reasons. Dedicated time for them is vital so we can find out who is struggling and let them know how to seek help if they start to find things too difficult.
‘The only way that health professionals are going to be able to do this is if the Government and NHS England agree to fund an appointment solely for new mothers.’
The Government has been contacted for a response.