Moms Need Checkups too, Questions to Ask at Your Postnatal Doctor Visit
Congratulations on your little bundle of joy! As you know, giving birth to a baby means big changes in your life — to your responsibilities, your schedule, your relationships and much more. Your body went through many transformations while you were pregnant, and now that your baby is here, your body is going through still more changes.
If you had a vaginal delivery it’s important for you to have a postpartum checkup with your health care provider about six weeks after delivery to make sure you’re recovering well from labor and birth. It’s also an opportunity to get answers to some questions you probably have, discuss any concerns and get guidance on keeping yourself healthy. Be sure to schedule a postpartum checkup even if you’re feeling fine and everything is going well. If you had a Cesarean delivery you will probably be seen by your doctor at least once before the 6 week visit.
What to Expect
At your postpartum checkup, your health care provider will:
Ask how you’re adjusting emotionally to the demands of motherhood. Are you feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed?
Inquire how you feed the baby — whether you’re breastfeeding and, if so, how it’s going.
Do a physical exam. Your blood pressure, weight, breasts and belly will be checked.
Perform a pelvic exam. Your provider will check your vagina, uterus and cervix to make sure they’re healthy. If you’re due for a Pap test, you may have that, too. Your provider will also examine your external genitalia, including your perineum, the area between your vagina and rectum. It stretches and may even tear during labor and birth, and is often sore after you give birth. If you tore during birth, your provider will check to see that it’s healed.
Ask about any physical symptoms you’re still experiencing, such as bleeding, abdominal discomfort, urinary or anal incontinence, breast pain, backache, etc.
Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date, including vaccinations for flu, pertussis, tetanus and chickenpox.
Order lab tests, if necessary. For example, if you were anemic during pregnancy or lost a lot of blood during delivery, you may need a blood test to check for anemia. If you had gestational diabetes, you may need a glucose tolerance test.
Fill out any paperwork you need. If you’re on maternity leave from an employer, you may have forms for your health care provider to fill out. Be sure to bring them along to your postpartum checkup.
Discuss a schedule for returning to routine gynecological care.
Also, note that if you are experiencing any unusual bleeding pain or fever, don’t wait for your scheduled visit. Call the office.
Questions to Ask
As a new mother, you may find that so much attention is focused on your baby that your needs and desires get short shrift. Not during your postpartum checkup; it’s all about you! You can help ensure you get what you need from this appointment by asking about:
- Your labor and delivery. If you have any lingering questions, ask them now. If you had complications, ask what bearing they’ll have on any future pregnancies or your overall health.
- Family planning. Ask what you need to know about any birth control methods you’re considering.
- Whether it’s OK to start having sex again and how you’ll know when you’re ready.
- Kegel exercises to tone your pelvic floor muscles.
- What diet and exercise plans can help you achieve a healthy weight, feel stronger and increase your energy.
- Changes to hair and skin and how you can manage them.
Delivering the Experience You Expect
Your postpartum checkup is a great time to address any concerns you have and receive reassurance that you’re recovering well from giving birth. Contact your Orlando Health provider to schedule a postpartum checkup if you haven’t already.
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