The 6-8 week maternal postnatal check in primary care: A survey of GPs

female patient and gpGP practices in England should offer an appointment to all people who have given birth 6-8 weeks after the birth to review their own health. We are researching how GPs are providing this service, what they typically do in these appointments and whether they think there are ways to improve it.

This work is being completed as part of Clare Macdonald’s PhD which is being completed at the University of Birmingham. Clare is researching the 6-8 week maternal postnatal check and how to improve it.

Clare’s PhD supervisors are: Dr Beck TaylorProfessor Christine MacArthur and Professor Debra Bick.

The study is sponsored and insured by the University of Birmingham.

Aims of the project

This study aims to establish a broad understanding of current GP clinical and organisational practice in provision of the 6-8 week maternal postnatal check. It will contribute to the understanding of how GPs are currently providing the postnatal maternal check, and what are the clinical and organisational norms, with reference to national guidance.

It will also look for any demographic patterns that may help to explain differences in the provision of the maternal postnatal check by different GPs and ask the opinion of GPs about changes that may improve the 6-8 week maternal postnatal check.

Why is this research needed?

There are approximately 700 000 births per year in England and Wales. All women who have given birth should be offered an appointment with a GP around 6-8 weeks later. Although many GPs have been routinely arranging such reviews for decades, it has only been compulsory since 2020.

The weeks and months after giving birth are a high-risk time for developing new physical and mental health problems, and a crucial time to follow-up complications of pregnancy and birth. It is therefore important that the 6-8 week postnatal check is as effective as possible at addressing and managing these issues.

We know from previous research that women have varied experiences at their postnatal check, but we know very little about the range of content and detail in the checks from the perspective of GPs, and about what GPs feel could be helpful to improve things for women.

Study updates

We will update this page after the analysis is complete and findings are ready to be shared.