The Six Week Checkup

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.

six week checkup postpartum
six week checkup postpartum

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.

How to diaper a newborn | Bitty Baby Basics

Diapering a baby seems pretty straightforward, right? Ask a new parent and you'll find that's not quite the case.

Sure, the basic concept is simple, but how do you know if you've got the right fit, if you're using the right size, common culprits for those pesky leaks and blowouts? And what's the deal with cloth diapers? We're talking about diapering in part 3 of our Bitty Baby Basics Facebook Live video series with our tiny newborn co-host (who had a lot to say this time!) and co-owner Lindsey Hanna.

How to make sure your baby's diaper fits

When checking for fit with a disposable diaper, you want to make sure that the waist is neither too loose nor too tight. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit your finger between the diaper and the baby, but not much else. The legs should have no gaps, and make sure you have fanned out the elastic so that it's not inside the diaper. If you have a boy, make sure the penis is pointed down or the diaper will leak out the top. The gussets in a diaper are the protective barrier and what keeps the poop off of your baby's clothes ;).

It's time to size up when the diaper fits well, but you start to experience leaks and blowouts. With longer, leaner babies you may start to see a bit of "plumber's crack" as they outgrow the diaper in length, and with more chunky babies you might see their bottoms coming out the sides at the leg. When you size up, or if you're between sizes, make sure the diaper is tight around the waist to ensure that there aren't any gaps in the leg.

What's the deal with cloth diapers?

Cloth diaper tutorials abound online, but in our video we give a basic overview of different kinds of cloth diapers available.

All-in-one diapers: The diaper is in one piece, and there's nothing to stuff. It goes on much like a disposable and can only be used once. All-in-ones are available in both newborn and one-size diapers for bigger babies.

Pocket diapers: These diapers have a soft inner layer and can be stuffed with an insert or other absorbent materials. You can find them with snaps or velcro closure, and they are highly adjustable to your growing baby. A standard one-size pocket diaper will last your baby from the disposable equivalent of size 1-2 all the way up to size 6! With a one-size pocket diaper, there are snaps to adjust both the waist/leg and the rise of diaper (how tall it is).

Newborn pocket diapers: A smaller version of the pocket diaper. These will often come with a couple of settings and last from about 8lbs and until 3-4 months old.

Diaper cover: In our video, we show a one-size diaper cover. There is no soft inner layer and you place your baby's diaper directly onto the waterproof layer and against the baby's skin. You can put absorbent material in a cover, or put it over a disposable to prevent blowouts.  Options to go in a cover include an insert made of cotton, bamboo, or charcoal bamboo, prefolds, and flats/flour sack towels. Prefolds and flat diapers can be folded to lay in or folded and fastened onto your baby.

https://youtu.be/aSkPitRQvJk

How to swaddle a newborn | Bitty Baby Basics

 Learn how to swaddle a newborn with Bitty Baby Basics: A Newborn Care How-to Series (Facebook Live)!

If you're a new parent or parent-to-be and don't have much experience with newborns, this series is for you. Caring for a live, wiggling newborn is a whole new ballgame compared to the demo dolls you may have encountered in parenting classes. We'll be taking time during this Live series to highlight different aspects of baby care, with our own newborn baby to demonstrate so that you can have a glimpse into what it's really like. We'll share our tips and tricks so that you can feel confident with your bitty bundle!

Swaddling is a skill that often leaves new parents feeling frustrated.

We'll de-mystify it for you in this video and show you how to do a basic swaddle with an aden+anais muslin swaddle blanket, how to use a SwaddleMe velcro swaddle, and sleep sacks for when your baby is too big to swaddle anymore.

Help! My baby doesn't like to to be swaddled!

Yes they do. Sure, some babies legitimately don't like being swaddled, but in our experience most of the time it's not that the baby hates a swaddle. There's a learning curve and a poorly-done swaddle is often rejected by a newborn who just wants to be snug as a bug in a rug. Here's some tips to remember:

Babies don't like getting swaddled. They like being swaddled.

Don't worry if your baby fusses and complains while you're swaddling with them. If you've done it correctly, then your baby should be easy to soothe quickly after you finish.

Your swaddle probably isn't tight enough.

No, you aren't going to hurt your baby. Chances are your baby doesn't like the swaddle because it's not tight enough. Muslin in particular is a very stretchy material that gives almost immediately after you let it go, which means you have to pull it much tighter initially so that when you tuck that last tail in, the fabric relaxes into a comfortable snugness for your baby. Same goes with the "cheater" velcro swaddles.

Don't swaddle once you see signs of rolling, or phase it out if your baby is 8 weeks old or more.

If you have a very young newborn, think 1-3 weeks, you might see them roll to their side naturally when you put them down. This is an infantile reflex and not the rolling you are looking for. Once your baby shows signs of rolling from front to back or back to front, it's important to stop swaddling immediately. A baby who is swaddled cannot turn themselves back over and is at risk for suffocation.

Skip the blankets in the crib and move from a swaddle to a sleep sack.

Blankets in the crib are another big hazard for small babies, so it's best to save them for snuggling. When your baby graduates from a swaddle, move them to a wearable blanket called a sleep sack. These are made by many different companies, including Halo, aden+anais, IKEA, Gerber, Carter's etc... they are easy to find, easy to use, and safe for your baby. Make sure you don't put your baby in a sleep sack that is too big.

https://youtu.be/fxhBwu1anFs

How to dress a newborn | Bitty Baby Basics

Bitty Baby Basics: A Newborn Care How-to Series (Facebook Live)

If you're a new parent or parent-to-be and don't have much experience with newborns, this series is for you. Caring for a live, wiggling newborn is a whole new ballgame compared to the demo dolls you may have encountered in parenting classes. We'll be taking time on the Doulas of Memphis Facebook Page during this Live series to highlight different aspects of baby care, with our own newborn baby to demonstrate so that you can have a glimpse into what it's really like. We'll share our tips and tricks so that you can feel confident with your bitty bundle!

In our first video, we talk about how to dress those sweet scrunched-up squishes with confidence and ease, and whatever else we encounter along the way.

Our #1 Rule for Dressing a Newborn: Don't hesitate!

Many parents fear they're going to hurt their baby if they dress them too quickly, so they take their time and try to be as gentle as possible. While this is well-intentions, it also has the result of making newborn babies really, really mad. You don't have to be rough to be firm and efficient! You won't break the baby, we promise! Watch to learn more:

Will my doula advocate for me?

One of the things we hear most frequently when we speak with birth clients is that they are looking for an advocate to be there with them at their birth. The word advocate is a sort-of buzz word in the birth world that many associate with the role of a doula. This word is peppered throughout blogs, articles, and documentaries, but what does it mean?

An advocate, when used as a noun, is (a) someone who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy, or (b) a person who pleads on someone else's behalf. In other words, an advocate is someone who speaks for you.

A doula can't advocate for you in the literal sense of the word because as doulas, we have no legal right to speak for you in regards to your medical care. However, what we've found is that women don't want someone to speak for them, but rather to feel like their voices are heard.

Many women want an advocate at their birth because of a fear of not being heard or respected.

Perhaps you've given birth before and felt confused, rushed, or pressured into decisions or interventions. Maybe those things needed to happen, but you felt detached and excluded from the process. This can cause trauma for some, and/or the desire for something different next time.

If this is your first baby, you may have heard negative stories and want to do everything you can to make sure this doesn't happen to you.

If your doula isn't your advocate, then what is she? What can a doula do that will help birthing families feel confident that their voices are heard during a vulnerable time like childbirth?

Doulas are relationship builders

Your relationship with us begins when you contact us and continues throughout your pregnancy and birth. Your doulas spend time getting to know you, your family, your needs, and your preferences. You trust us with your thoughts and feelings, and to support you as you bring a new baby into the world. This relationship is important to us, and so is the relationship you've built with your OB/GYN.

advocate

 

Since we've established positive relationships with hospitals and OB/GYNs, we can support you during labor with a foundation of trust that your doula is always working as part of a team to help you have the best birth possible for you.

Doulas facilitate communication

During pregnancy, we can help you learn how to effectively communicate your needs and preferences with your doctor. At our prenatal meeting, we take time to make sure everyone is on the same page and that you go into labor feeling prepared. During labor, we can help you understand the process, encourage you to talk through your options, and remind you that it's okay to ask questions about your care.

We understand the process and can help translate if you're feeling confused. Your doula can also help you be more comfortable while keeping safety in mind by checking with nurses regarding position changes and other things that may effect their ability to care for you in labor. We love to collaborate with nurses and draw from their knowledge and experience!

Doulas remain constant

During pregnancy, you speak with your OB/GYN every few weeks. During labor, your nurses will spend an average of 4-7 minutes per visit to your room, which doesn't leave much time for individualized care, and you may labor through a shift change. Your doctor may check in periodically, but you likely won't see much of them until delivery approaches.

In an unfamiliar environment, your doula is a constant, familiar face. Since we aren't responsible for your medical care, we have time to focus on you and your other needs. We listen and encourage. We help instill confidence that your voice is powerful and that you and your partner have everything you need to use it.

Perhaps you don't need an advocate after all.