Definition & Overview
The postpartum period, which is usually the first six weeks after delivery, is known to be a critical stage in the mother’s physical and mental health. After nine months of carrying the baby inside her belly and undergoing physical and mental changes, and then going through the stress of delivery, returning to a non-pregnant state can be demanding. There’s also the additional pressure of looking after the newly born child.
Women are prone to a variety of disorders during this period, such as postpartum depression and infections, especially if they required a vaginal incision or a C-section to help them deliver the baby. Therefore, doctors recommend that the mother undergo a postpartum visit or consultation 4-6 weeks after delivery.
The purpose of the consultation is to assess the mother’s physical and mental condition to see how she is coping with the situation. Doctors will also help the mother establish a weight loss goal and advise her on how to achieve an ideal weight through proper nutrition and exercise.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
It’s imperative that a woman who has recently given birth undergo a postpartum visit, even when she feels that she is doing fine and is not displaying any particular signs of mental fatigue or depression. In some cases, a woman may not display any visible symptoms or may deny having any symptoms at all. If her condition is not identified, there’s a possibility of it worsening and becoming more difficult to treat later on.
A postpartum visit can last anywhere between 30 minutes to a couple of hours depending on the findings of the doctor. If the doctor believes the mother will require further diagnosis or treatment, she will likely be asked to return for a follow-up consultation or be referred to a specialist.
How Does the Procedure Work?
Most postpartum visits begin with a short interview. The doctor will ask a few questions, such as how the mother is doing and if she is feeling any symptoms. The purpose of the interview is not only to identify any possible problems with the mother’s physical health but also to gauge her mental state. Doctors will be able to identify any mental fatigue and prescribe medications or provide advice on how she can deal with her condition without the use of any medicines.
The doctor will then perform a physical exam. If the mother underwent an episiotomy during delivery, the incision will be checked to make sure that it is healing properly. Patients who delivered via C-section would normally undergo a medical checkup two weeks after delivery, but the doctor will also inspect the wound during a postpartum visit.
The physical exam will also include a pelvic exam to ensure that the uterus, cervix, and ovaries are returning to the pre-pregnancy state normally. The doctor will check for any signs of infections or request that the mother undergo a pap smear if signs of abnormalities are present.
Doctors will also usually perform a breast exam during the postpartum visit. The breasts undergo a series of changes during pregnancy and after delivery. If the doctor discovers any abnormal changes, further tests will be requested so that the condition can be treated as early as possible.
The mother’s mental health is just as important as her physical health, which is why the doctor will check for any signs of depression. If the doctor feels that the mother could be displaying signs of depression, she will likely need to be referred to specialists in postpartum depression or be asked to obtain the services of postpartum helpers, such as baby nurses. In some cases, the mother may simply be feeling overwhelmed by the situation and a little help with the baby is all she needs.
If the doctor does not discover any physical or mental abnormalities during the postpartum visit, the mother will be given the all-clear sign to return to normal daily activities, which include exercises and sexual activities.
Possible Complications and Risks
A postpartum visit usually does not present any complications or risks, unless the doctor discovers any physical or mental abnormalities that will require further diagnosis and treatment. In this case, the complications and risks will be related to the actual exam or treatment regimen.
It’s important to inform the doctor of any problems that you may be experiencing during the postpartum visit, including problems at home that may be causing additional physical, mental, or emotional stress. Any problem, no matter how small it may appear, can affect a mother’s state of mind during the postpartum period. The doctor may be able to help with the problem or refer you to specialists who will be able to provide sound advice on how to deal with your situation.
The most common postpartum problems that women experience during this period are:
- Infections, to include incision and kidney infections
- Swollen breasts
- Clogged ducts
- Vaginal discharge
- Hair loss
- Stretch marks
- Discomfort during sex
- Reduced sex drive
- Postpartum hemorrhage resulting in excessive bleeding
If you experience any of the above problems, make sure that you inform your doctor during the postpartum visit. However, if the condition is worsening and is affecting your daily activities, then seek immediate medical attention.
You should also seek help if you begin to display signs of depression, which include intense feelings of sadness or if you’re having thoughts of suicide. Other signs of depression include no longer caring about your daily activities, friends, or responsibilities. You should seek immediate help if you have feelings of animosity towards the baby or other family members.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2010). Screening for depression during and after pregnancy. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 453. Washington, DC: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2008, reaffirmed 2009). Use of psychiatric medications during pregnancy and lactation. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 92. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 111(4): 1001-1020.
What is Postpartum Visit: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results
Postpartum visits are important for both a mother and her newborn. They provide an opportunity for the mother to receive the care they need after childbirth, including the assessment of their physical and mental health. Additionally, postpartum visits often include visits from the newborn’s pediatrician to conduct important tests and screenings for the baby.
What Is a Postpartum Visit?
A postpartum visit, also known as the “six-week checkup”, is an important step in the recovery process after childbirth. This visit to a healthcare provider usually takes place six weeks after delivery and allows for the mother and newborn to be evaluated and receive any necessary care they may need. The primary purpose of the visit is to assess the mother’s physical and mental health following childbirth. Additionally, many postpartum visits involve visits from the baby’s doctor to assess the newborn’s overall health.
Overview of Postpartum Visit
The postpartum checkup typically occurs about six weeks after delivery. Mothers may book their postpartum visits shortly after giving birth, and may decide to stay with the same OB-GYN they saw throughout their pregnancy or to choose a different health care provider.
During the Postpartum Visit
At the start of the visit, the mother will be asked to complete a questionnaire asking about their health since birth, including any physical or mental health changes, feelings of anxiety, or depression. The OB-GYN will usually measure the mother’s blood pressure and assess her physical condition.
The OB-GYN may also check to make sure any childbirth-related injuries have healed properly and that the mother’s uterus has returned to its normal size. Additionally, the OB-GYN will discuss any contraception methods the mother may wish to use and may also recommend tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Follow-Up Care Provided By Pediatrician
At the postpartum checkup, the newborn’s doctor will also make an appearance. The doctor will measure the baby’s head circumference, weight, and length. Additionally, they will provide screenings and immunizations, perform tests for hearing and vision, and assess the baby’s development.
If the mother so desires, the baby’s doctor can also provide advice on nutrition, sleep, and childcare. This advice and recommendations may cover topics such as formula or breast-feeding, the proper supplies to keep handy, baby-proofing the home, and creating an appropriate sleep environment.
Benefits of Postpartum Visit
Postpartum visits offer numerous benefits to both new mothers and their newborns. First and foremost, postpartum visits allow the mother to receive the care and support she needs in her new environment. They provide a platform for healthcare professionals to assess the mother’s physical and mental health in order to ensure a safe recovery.
Postpartum visits also ensure the baby receives the necessary tests and immunizations. These tests are important for ensuring the health of the baby and for detecting any potential issues early on. Lastly, postpartum visits provide the opportunity for the baby’s doctor to offer advice on important topics related to parenting and child care.
Expected Results After Postpartum Visit
Postpartum visits are important steps for the recovery of both the mother and the newborn. After a visit to the OB-GYN and the baby’s doctor, the new mother will have a better understanding of her physical and mental health. Additionally, she will have access to information about contraception methods, if desired.
The baby will have had important tests and screenings conducted to assess their health. Furthermore, the newborn will have received any necessary immunizations and their doctor will have offered advice about nutrition, sleep, and child care. Overall, both the mother and baby should feel more secure in their new environment after a postpartum visit.