The six week checkup is the last vestige of your pregnancy and an important appointment you don't want to miss.
Besides the much-anticipated (or feared) "all-clear," what's the point? We'll break it down for you so that you can get the most out of your appointment.
Why six weeks?
That initial post-birth Mack Truck feeling has subsided, you've stopped bleeding, you might even be getting a little more sleep (if not, we have a doula for that!), and you're starting to get used to your new post-baby body. You're entertaining the thought of having sex again one day. Maybe. You might feel fine, but remember that birth left a placenta-sized wound in your uterus, and that wound takes around six weeks to fully heal. Introducing anything into the vagina before then increases your likelihood of infection, which is the last thing you need with a newborn to care for!
What happens during the six week checkup?
During your visit, your OB/GYN will sit down with you and ask you questions about your postpartum recovery. If you have any questions about your delivery, now is a good time to ask. If you had any kind of perineal or internal tearing, or had a cesarean delivery, your OB may want to take a look to make sure everything is healed correctly.
If you are struggling with incontinence or pain, you can ask your OB for a referral to a pelvic physiotherapist to help get your muscles back in shape.
Your OB will discuss contraception with you if you are trying to avoid another pregnancy. Remember, you can ovulate before you have that first period, and breastfeeding is not a reliable form of birth control.
Your OB will also give you a questionnaire called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to screen you for any kind of postpartum mood disorders.
About that postpartum depression questionnaire...
The Edinburgh Scale is a tool to screen for postpartum mood disorders, but don't be afraid to speak up if you're struggling but don't identify with the questions. Your mental health as a postpartum mother is extremely important, and your OB is there to help. If you feel like you would like medication, most OB/GYNs are familiar with standard first-line treatments. He or she may want to monitor you for hormone changes as well.
Having a baby isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it's loneliness, scary thoughts, mood swings, anxiety, feeling hopeless and misunderstood, resentment, crying spells, or a whole host of other not-fun symptoms.
Please hear us when we tell you that you do NOT have to struggle alone. Your feelings aren't silly or insignificant and you matter! There are moms who have been there and there is help available. If you are in Memphis, Appleseeds, Inc. is a local non-profit that specializes in maternal mental health and provides affordable individual therapy, support groups, and workshops.
Should I bring my baby?
Up to you! Your OB/GYN and staff will probably be thrilled to meet your baby and see how much they've changed since birth. This is a fun photo-op, especially if you have a great relationship with your doctor. If you feel like you want to take that time for yourself without any distractions, there's nothing wrong with that! Your partner or a friend/family member can keep the baby or go with you, or your postpartum doula can help if you prefer.
You don't have to wait six weeks
If you have a question or a concern before six weeks, don't wait! Call and make an appointment if you feel like something needs to be addressed before your scheduled six week visit.