Now that you're getting used to life with a newborn, it's time to give your post-pregnancy body some attention. Although a spa day would be nice, it's a postpartum exam that you'll need to schedule first. From questions about your emotions to details about the pelvic exam, get the rundown on what to expect at your postpartum checkup.
What your physician wants to cover
A postpartum checkup usually is scheduled with your gynecologist or midwife four to six weeks after you give birth. The purpose of a postpartum checkup is to check on your emotional and physical wellbeing, as well as your physical care in the future. "The postpartum checkup is important for several reasons," explains Obstetrician and Gynecologist Lawrence K. Koning of drkoning.com. "First and foremost, to make sure the uterus has returned to normal size and the tissues are healing well. And, most importantly, to discuss the many different options of birth control."
Your health care provider may also:
- See how you're doing physically and emotionally, including any feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious or depressed.
- Review with you any complications or concerns about your pregnancy or delivery, as well as effects on future health or pregnancies.
- Address any bleeding, vaginal or perinneal pain, breast pain or other physical concerns you may have.
- Inquire about your breastfeeding status and progress.
- Suggest diet and exercise guidelines.
What to expect during your postpartum exam
During your physical exam, your doctor will check your weight, blood pressure and signs that your body is returning to its pre-pregnancy state:
- Check your abdomen for tenderness and C-section incision healing.
- Inspect breasts for any lumps, signs of a breast infection or complications from breastfeeding.
- Assess your external genitalia, especially if you had an episiotomy or any tearing to ensure it has healed properly.
- Examine your vagina and cervix internally for proper healing, as well as possibly perform a Pap smear if you're due.
- Feel your uterus internally to ensure it has shrunk properly, look for any issues with your cervix and ovaries, and assess your vaginal and rectal muscle tone.
Postpartum checkup details before you leave
Before you bid your postpartum checkup adieu, be sure your OB/GYN has:
- Given you a return to work date if on maternity leave
- Informed you when to resume your normal gynecological care visits
- Clarified whether or not you have the green light to resume normal activities, like sex and work
- Confirmed your birth control method
- Scheduled your next gynecological visit
Between the time your baby arrives and your postpartum exam, make a list of questions or concerns you have for your physician to ensure nothing will be missed. However, even when you know what to expect at your postpartum checkup, pressing issues or questions that arise before your appointment may warrant you dialing up your doctor, so do not wait to give him a call with your concerns.
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