Wednesday, 13 October 2010

What to Expect at Baby's 6 Week Check (by a Grumpy Ranting Mummy)

Yesterday Little E finally got her 6 week check (even though she was 7 weeks and 2 days old).

I just thought I'd tell you how it went and what exactly they do so other mums know what to expect. I must warn you that this post contains mild rants

So here you go...

Little E and I were running 10 minutes late (new mum style) - her feed went on longer than expected and then I couldn't scrabble together the change I needed for the car park - if I could pay with fluff and sweet wrappers I could park for life!

Anyway, we arrived at the surgery and checked in and I was handed a registration form to fill out for Little E, since it was her first visit.

First page wasn't a problem; name, address, date of birth (which I wrote as my own - natch - and then had to correct).

Page 2 - Medical History - erm she was born, now she's come to be checked. End of. Then sign to confirm page 1 details are correct. Fair enough.

Page 3 - How many cigarettes to you smoke on average per week? She's 7 weeks old - what kind of mother do you think I am? Units of alcohol consumed on average per week? - none just boob milk for Little E obviously. I decided to ignore page 3 for obvious reasons: she's a god damn baby you idiot - not a crack smoking, manic depressive junkie!  

I handed the form back to the receptionist and told her I'd only filled out the first page and signed the back - she looked at me like I was the stupid one. I sat down.

We were soon called in to see the health visitor. "Just pop her on the bed and take her clothes off." - Errr, a hello would have been nice!

1. The weigh in

Little E was born 7lb 14oz, by 10 days she was 8lb 3oz. She is, to be fair, drinking boob milk like there's no tomorrow so I was expecting her to have gained a few ounces. Imagine my surprise when the scales reveal that she's now 11lb 4!! It actually made me feel proud -  my booby milk is obviously doing good stuff. The Health Vistior is amazed and therefore questions if I'm 'topping up' - No I certainly am not - how very dare you!

2. Length measurement

Little E is now completely starkers after having been weighed, but apparently there's no point putting her nappy on yet because we're nearly done - cue massive wee on to the measuring sheet. I lift her up and the HV just folds over the tissue paper and says "let's try again" - How's about we just wait til the area is dry first, rather than lying her on a wee riddled piece of tissue? 

I have to hold E's head to stop her wriggling and the measurement comes out at 56cm which I'm told is quite long - we may have the next Elle McPherson on our hands.

3. Head circumference

The tape measure is wrapped around Little E's head and I try and hold her cheeks to keep her still but the tape measure keeps slipping. Eventually we get it right on the 3rd attempt and we see that E's head measures 39cm.

That was it for the health visitor, so I put E's nappy back on. I attempt to get her dressed but I'm told she needs to stay in just her nappy for now. Luckily, I have a blanket with me and I'm ushered back to the waiting room with my car seat, my bag and a half naked baby. Not impressed. I end up giving people dirty looks as they come in to the surgery because they are letting the cold in. In return they look at me like I'm a mad woman that's brought her child out without having dressed her first.

Soon we are called through to see the doctor. "Any problems?" Well yes actually you dopes, you all seem completely unaware that this is a newborn baby - she doesn't have any previous alcohol problems and she certainly doesn't like sitting naked in a cold waiting room. "No, doctor, everything is fine - although she does have a cold at the moment."

4. Eyes

The doctor checks Little E's eyes closely with a light and also makes sure that she can follow it.

5. Baby Soft Spots (fontanelles)

In case you don't know - the fontanelles are the two soft spots on your baby's skull. They allowed your baby to pass through the birth canal. There are 2 soft spots, one at the back of the head which usually closes by about six weeks and one at the front which can take up to 18 months to close fully. (I sounded quite clever then - don't you think?) The doctor just does a quick check to make sure that Little E's are developing and hardening correctly.

6. Breathing

Out came the old stethoscope to check that Little E's heart has a normal rhythm and make sure that she's breathing normally. Everything is ok - she doesn't have a heart murmur like her mummy.

7. Tummy

Next, the doctor checked Little E's tummy for irregularities. This just involved her gently feeling that everything was where it should be.

8. Hips

Doctor then uses a couple of little manoeuvres of Little E's legs to make sure she doesn't have what is known as 'clicky hips'. (Don't try these manoeuvres at home by the way, they're just for babies and Ive since pulled a muscle trying to see if I have a clicky hip!)

9. The 'down below' bits

A quick check by the doctor to make sure everything looks as it should. If you have a little boy then they will check for undescended baby balls (sorry I didn't want to have to say testes!).

10. Skin

The doctor then just has a look at Little E's skin to make sure
it's a healthy colour and texture and she looks for any rashes or birthmarks or signs of skin sensitivities but everything is fine.

11. Spine

Finally, I pick Little E up and the doctor checks her spine formation. Everything looks good.

My mood picks up and I can finally get her dressed. She was such a good girl and didn't get upset, despite the prodding, poking and nakedness!

So there you have it. The 6 week check. I've put together some top tips to make sure your baby's 6 week check runs a little smoother than mine...


  • Feed baby before you leave the house. That way she'll be content and happy for her examination. 
  • Be sure to pack change for the car park, your baby's Health Record book (ours is a little red book) and a blanket to avoid 'naked baby in the waiting area' between seeing the Health Visitor and the Doctor .
  • Plan to arrive 10 minutes before your appointment - that way you should arrive there just about on time and avoid the wrath of the evil receptionist!
    • Don't expect to be seen on time though -  we all know that the other mums will have arrived late for their appointments, therefore your appointment will never be at the time you were given.
    • Write down any questions you have about your baby beforehand (feeding etc) - that way you won't forget when you get there - we all know about the trauma that is 'baby brain'!
    • Make sure baby is wearing clothes that are easy to remove - the last thing you need when you're rushed is to have loads of buttons to undo.
    • Make sure you have a spare nappy and wipes with you so you can change baby once the doctor has finished.
    So that's all you need to know - I hope I haven't missed anything out. Good luck! 


      1. I only saw the doctor for toddler girl's 6 week check thankfully. No way would I have been happy waiting for another person in October in the cold.

      2. great post! I'm glad it's not just me who struggled with the large amounts of nakedness in the waiting room - Lyra was born last winter, the coldest ever and yet starkers was the order of the day!

        Your post reminded me of one I wrote a little while back after waiting an interminably long time to get little legs weighed

      3. That seems a bit mean to make you wait with a new born half naked you would think people in the medical profession would have more sense. One of my twin boys wee'd on the GP's tie when he was having his ball bits squeezed but we were all seen by just the one doc and not moved to and fro like you were. I'm surprised your GP didn't discuss contraceptives with you either like mine did! He recommended my other half have the snip LOL!!!