Whether you give birth at a birth center with midwives or at the hospital with your OBGYN, you will likely have a postpartum follow up appointment about six weeks after you deliver. The purpose of the visit is to check on your physical and emotional well-being as you recover and adjust to your new life post childbirth. Here’s what you can expect to happen at your six-week postpartum check-up.
NOTE: Health Foundations also provides a postpartum visit at 2 weeks for our families
A thorough assessment of how your body is recovering from childbirth:
Your midwife or doctor will likely check the size of your uterus to see if it has returned to its pre-pregnancy size. She or he will also want to ensure that any vaginal tearing or C-section incisions are healing well, and assess for any post-birth physical problems like hemorrhoids, incontinence or constipation. Now’s the time to mention any other aches and pains you are experiencing. Your care provider will likely also clear you for sex and exercise at this visit should everything check out okay.
A check-in on your mental health:
Your care provider may give you a written assessment for postpartum depression or she may just evaluate how you are feeling in discussion. Postpartum mood disorders affect approximately 10-15 percent of all new moms though many feel ashamed or afraid to seek the necessary help. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression such as hopelessness, sadness, anger or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, please tell your care provider right away so they can support you in finding the appropriate help. There are many options for moms experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety including counseling, support groups and even medication. Your postpartum visit is a great opportunity to share any concerns about your mental well-being with your care provider.
A discussion about birth control:
Since you’ll most likely be cleared to resume having sexual intercourse with your partner at this visit, your care provider will probably want to discuss options for birth control. While exclusive breastfeeding can provide effective protection for the first six months postpartum and sometimes beyond, you may want to consider a back-up plan such as the mini-pill or an IUD if you don’t want to risk your kids being too close in age. Your midwife or OBGYN can discuss the various options for birth control with you and help you come up with a plan that works for you.
Your annual gynecological exam:
Many practitioners will go ahead and perform your annual exam at your six-week postpartum visit. She may conduct a pelvic exam, Pap smear and breast exam in addition to the usual physical exam measures such as weight and blood pressure. It’s a good time to discuss any other health concerns you have so be sure to bring a list of questions with you to the appointment.
A breastfeeding consultation:
Your midwife or OBGYN will check in with you to see how breastfeeding is going with your new babe. They can help you troubleshoot any difficulties, address issues with engorgement or clogged ducts and refer you to a lactation consultant if you need additional guidance or support.
Your postpartum visit is a great time to address any questions or concerns that you are having about your recovery, physical or mental health or adjustment to caring for a newborn. Be sure to come prepared with your questions written down so that you can make the most of the time with your care provider. At Health Foundations, our care doesn’t end in the birthing room. We are here for you during your postpartum period and beyond to support you and your new family as you adjust to motherhood. For questions about natural birth or postpartum care, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.