Get the scoop on what you'll experience at your first postpartum doctor's visit.
Six weeks after you deliver your baby, you'll be seeing your doctor again for a postpartum checkup. And while you may feel shy, that's the time to let your doctor know about anything that's bothering you. "Many new moms are afraid to ask about the symptoms they have," says Dr. Daniel Roshan, board-certified OB/GYN and high-risk maternal-fetal medicine doctor in NYC. But this is the time to do it. Here's what you can expect to discuss—and do—during your postpartum visit.
- Contraception. Dr. Roshan talks to her patients about this at their first postpartum checkup. "It's essential to know what method is the most suitable for each mother," she says. If you're not hoping for another plus sign on a pregnancy test right away, it's important to think about birth control—because contrary to popular belief, you absolutely can get prgenant while you're breastfeeding.
- Your mood. "The postpartum visit is a time to check in with your OB and review any issues you have been having since delivery, including mood changes," says Dr. Lindsay Appel, an OB/GYN at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. "It is especially important to talk to your OB if you have been having feelings of depression or sadness."
- Complications. "If there were any complications during your pregnancy or delivery, the postpartum visit can be a good time to review those issues and discuss their implications on future pregnancies," says Dr. Appel.
- Bleeding. "Physically, you will hopefully be recovering well from the delivery," says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine. "A bit of bleeding could be going on, but the heavy stuff should be over at this point." If it's not, you definitely need to discuss that with your doctor.
- Breastfeeding. If you're nursing, you should talk to your doctor about how it's going and if your nipples are sore. "Breast or nipple tenderness, redness, or lumps and bumps could be signs of mastitis or a clogged duct," says Sara Twogood, MD, an OB/GYN at the University of Southern California and founder of the postpartum care package service Après Push. Your OB/GYN may also refer you to a lactation consultant if the breastfeeding is not going well, so you can get a little extra help and support.
- Physical concerns. "Hemorrhoids are common in the postpartum period, but your OB/GYN can take a look and even refer you to a surgeon if you need further care," says Dr. Twogood. Your doctor will look for any additional symptoms, such as heart palpitations, feelings of nervousness or shakiness, or excessive sweating. "These may be signs of postpartum thyroiditis, a less common thyroid dysfunction in the postpartum period that usually needs treatment and monitoring."
- Restarting your sex life. At this visit, your OB/GYN will likely give you the green light to have intercourse again. But there are some changes that are common in the postpartum period and knowing about these changes in advance can help ease your mind. "Lubrication is usually lacking, estrogen levels are low in the postpartum period, and if you had a vaginal delivery, the vaginal tissue may not be fully recovered," says Dr. Twogood. Talk to your doctor about any concerns.
- The physical exam. The postpartum visit is usually straightforward and relatively short. "A breast exam and pelvic exam is usually performed—sometimes an internal exam with a speculum, like getting a pap smear, and sometimes only an external exam to look at stitches," explains Dr. Twogood. Your doctor should give you the go-ahead to return to normal activity, like exercise, and then talk about when you'll need to come back in for your next visit.