5 Reasons Not To Miss Your Postpartum Appointment
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 her words of encouragement, and then, at long last, the baby arrives.
It is at that moment when you can often see the entire room shifting the focus over to the baby. Family and friends come to visit and to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over the baby.
As the mother, you might be left thinking, “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.
This is why it is so important for new moms to set up and keep their postpartum visit. It is recommended all new mothers follow up with their healthcare provider three to six weeks following delivery. This is often referred to as the fourth trimester, and just like the three trimesters leading up to having your baby, this fourth trimester is very important.
Statistics show that only about 50% of women make it to this appointment! It can be hard to keep all of the appointments, however, this postpartum visit is too important to miss.
Here are five reasons to make sure you don’t miss this important visit:
- Birth spacing and family planning. It is comical after having a baby, how many people ask you – “So, when you having another one?” While this question causes new moms to cringe, it is very important to talk to your healthcare provider about your wishes and to understand the importance of giving your body time to heal before another pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) all recommend waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies. Proper birth spacing also helps decrease risk of preterm births.
- 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. Talk to your provider about all the options to decide 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 or it may be determined that you require evaluation from a primary care provider or a specialist.
It is recommended that each woman has 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
Carrie Snyder, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, is Beebe’s Women's Health Nurse Navigator. She helps connect members of the community with Beebe resources, providers, and care. She can also answer a wide variety of questions you might have about pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, and more. Call Carrie at 844-316-3330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.