When it comes to your Doctor’s Check up after birth, and subsequent follow up visits, at some local Clinics here in Nottingham, these appointments can be rather cursory affairs with your Doctor asking you: “So, how are your feeling?”, and that’s about it.
I’m not here to judge your GP and/or the service they provide obviously, but, with a little bit of education before you go in, I’m here to help you get the most out of your Doctor’s appointments, to ensure you come out feeling as though you’ve had your questions answered, and you leave with a boost of confidence.
There’s nothing worse than taking yourself off to the Doctor and realising afterwards you didn’t really get the right information, or enough of it.Today, I’ve put together a bit of a checklist for you, to help you:
- Before you go, write a list of your concerns and symptoms starting with the most important – if you’re going for your 6 or 10-week check (with most doing a ‘mother and baby’ check at 8 or 12 weeks to save time), don’t assume that the appointment will always be about you.
- If you have a problem you’d like to discuss, chart when the problem started, how it developed and how it affects your daily life now as a new mum eg can you laugh without wetting yourself, are you concerned about the appearance of your c-section scar etc?
- Ask your Doctor to check your abdominals for any separation, and do a test for pelvic floor function – don’t assume they all GPs will do this, ok, so ask for it specifically.
- Be honest and don’t hold back any details – practise what you want to say in front of a mirror. I appreciate if it’s something of a sensitive matter, it’s not going to be easy to talk about, but you simply have to, if you want something like natural bladder or bowel function back again, ok?
- Be clear about what you want eg if you’d like a change of medication, ask for it outright – no mess, no fuss, just clear, concise language.
- Be assertive, but polite – you don’t want your GP to push the panic button under their desk to summon Security, but at the same time, you want answers, information and clarification, and you need to walk in with confidence.
- Ask your GP to clarify anything you’re not clear about – how many times do you walk away from an appointment or discuss the details with your partner/friend afterwards, and then realise you’re not really anymore clued up than before you walked in? It’s so frustrating, isn’t it?
- If you’re worried, take a friend or relative along for support – most Practices have a chaperone policy, so take advantage of it.
- If you’re not happy with the outcome, ask for an appointment with another GP – you’re quite within your rights to do this if you see it necessary. At the surgery I’m registered with, I can request an appointment with any Doctor and can book online, so don’t even need to speak to a Receptionist. Simples.
- Book a double appointment if you feel your problems can’t be covered in 10 minutes – I rarely see a Doctor myself, to be honest (might be something to do with that healthy lifestyle/occupation, eh?). But, I make myself go at least once a year to get myself checked over and request a double appointment and get everything out of the way in one go. The patients booked in after you will be thankful that you didn’t run over if you request a longer time to discuss things too.
And there you have it. My Top Tips for getting the most out appointments booked with your Doctor, or any medical professional for that matter. Why not print this list out and keep it in your handbag? That way, you’ll have access to it and something to read when you’re sitting in the waiting room too!
Obviously, being a new mum requires you to be superhuman sometimes, but when it comes to your recovery as an individual, it can be tough. It may be months and months before you feel normal again. But if you don’t do something NOW to help your recovery, it may be even longer before you’re your old self again.