A survey by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) and NetMums has reported that nearly half (47%) of new mothers get less than three minutes or no time at all to discuss their mental and physical health at a postnatal check. One in four (25%) are not asked about their emotional or mental health during the appointment.
The new statistics are released as part of NCT’s #HiddenHalf campaign, which calls for full funding of the six-week check so that health professionals have the time to give all new mothers their own appointment, rather than squeezing it in with an examination of their baby. Without funding, many GP surgeries are unable to provide specific maternal appointments, the NCT says.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has supported the call. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGP Chair said it is essential that mothers feel comfortable discussing issues with their GP and other healthcare professionals, and that they receive the appropriate support.
"But, even though six-week checks are generally longer than the standard 10-minute appointment, it is still incredibly hard for GPs to explore all the different factors potentially affecting a new mother's health within the time constraints - particularly at a time when general practice is facing intense resource and workforce pressures,” Prof Stokes-Lampard said.
"Checks for new mothers need to be funded and promoted in the same way that checks for newborns are, so that GPs can spend the time they feel they need to with both the baby and its mother," she said, adding that the RCGP hope the calls from the National Childbirth Trust for the Government to fund checks for all new mothers "are given serious consideration so that we can continue to give all of our patients, including new mothers, the care they need and deserve."