Navigating Our Health: 5 Reasons to Attend Your Postpartum Visit
During pregnancy, it can feel as though you spend just as much time at the OB/GYN office as you do at home or at work. Once the baby is born, the focus tends to shift from “caring for mom” to “caring for baby.”
You know the scene…..all eyes are on mom during labor, giving words of encouragement, until the baby arrives. Then the whole room shifts it focus over to the baby where they are seen oohing and ahhhhing….
All while mom is over there like, “Hey, remember me… I am the one who just pushed that baby out!”
Sleep deprivation, late night feedings, pediatrician appointments, and counting the number of poops and pees in a day can consume a new mom’s life. So much so that she rarely has time to think of her own health and wellbeing.
It is recommended that all women follow-up with their healthcare provider 3-6 weeks after delivery. Believe it or not, only about 50% of women attend their postpartum appointment. Here are 5 reasons to make sure you don’t miss this important visit:
- Birth Spacing and Family planning: It is actually comical after having a baby, how many people ask you…. “So, when you having another one?” I mean really! Can we not enjoy having just one baby without thinking about having another one? Well, it is important to have this discussion with your partner and plan for when you WANT to have another baby. The CDC, the World Health Organization, and ACOG all recommend to wait 18 months between pregnancies. This gives your body time to heal and be prepared for the next one. Proper birth spacing helps to decrease risk of preterm births with the next pregnancy.
- Birth Control: Now that you know to wait at least 18 months between pregnancies, it is time to talk about pregnancy prevention. There are lots of options available for birth control today. Discuss with your provider which option is right for you and your partner.
- Emotional Wellness: “Baby Blues,” postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and postpartum psychosis are REAL! According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, postpartum depression affects 1 in 9 women after giving birth. Untreated postpartum mental health disorders can affect your ability to parent effectively and to bond with your baby. There are studies that show untreated postpartum depression in a mother can affect her child throughout their childhood leading to delays in language development, behavioral problems, more crying and agitation, and poor coping strategies to deal with stress or new situations. There are many treatment options available such as counseling, support groups, medications, etc. Your postpartum visit is a great time to check in with your provider and see if you are having any signs of a postpartum mental health disorder. Your provider will likely ask you questions or have you complete a screening tool to determine if you are.
- Physical Wellness: During your postpartum visit, the provider will likely perform a vaginal exam. They will examine for proper healing from delivery. If you had a C-section, they will also check your incision for any signs of infection or problems. They may or may not complete a pap smear (which is the test for cervical cancer). If they do not perform the Pap at this visit, they will discuss when you are recommended to have your next one, based on your medical history and the date of your most recent one. This is also a great time to discuss any problems you are having such as pain, bleeding, discharge, breast symptoms, swelling in extremities, etc.
- Chronic Diseases: Your postpartum visit is also a time to discuss any problems that occurred during your pregnancy such as high blood pressure, diabetes, carpal tunnel, prolapse, urinary incontinence, etc. You may require closer monitoring and/or it may be determined that you require evaluation from a primary care provider or a specialist.
It is recommend to have a yearly Woman’s Wellness Exam. We really want women to start looking at the postpartum visit as the “beginning” of their wellness journey, rather than the “end” of their pregnancy.
For more information on postpartum mood disorders please refer to Postpartum Support International Website: https://www.postpartum.net/
For more information on birth control options, please refer to https://www.bedsider.org/
For general information on Woman’s Wellness Exams, please refer to https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Annual-Well-Woman-Exam-Infographic