When I attended my first postpartum doctor's visit, I'm not gonna lie, I was terrified. Waiting to make sure everything was healing the right way was not, for me, an idea of a "good time." To be honest, as a first time mom, I had no idea what to expect, which only made that initial visit all the more anxiety inducing. I mean really, what do they do during a postpartum doctor's visit? It's never really laid out for you, step-by-step, and even if it is (honestly, who reads past the birth part of a baby book, anyway?) a woman's postpartum journey is hardly talked about with the same care and detail that pregnancy, labor and delivery are.
In the days leading up to my first postpartum doctor's visit, I felt a twinge of pain that I hadn't felt before. It difficult to go to the bathroom and showering was almost painful. Since I didn't really know what to expect after giving birth, let alone during my first postpartum visit, I wrote down some questions for my doctor, sure to cover my basis and remember every single inquiry. These feelings were new, and I wanted to make sure that I voiced my concerns regarding these feelings and pains and changes, as articulately as possible.
That list of initial questions helped, to be sure, but regardless of my due diligence, there were still things I wish I had known, prior to going to that initial visit, that would have eased my discomfort, both mentally and physically, including the following:
It Might Take Longer Than Any Prenatal Check-Up
While no trip to any doctor is usually quick, your first postpartum visit will be, possibly, one of the longest doctor's visits you've ever had. There's so much to discuss: birth control, physical health, mental health, baby's wellness, you freakin' name it. Chances are, you'll probably bring your newborn baby along, and that can, in turn, make that initial visit feel even longer.
Everyone Will Want To Know All The Things About Your Baby And Not, Necessarily, About You
While you wait for your appointment, you may get a boatload of people asking to see your beautiful bundle of joy, while simultaneously asking you twenty million questions, as if you were in an interrogation room. Seriously. I think I was on the receiving end of more questions about how old my daughter was and what her name was and if I was doing well and if she was our first and how my delivery went and on and on and on, than I received about my own mental and physical health. I swear, it was a relief to get called into the examine room and asked questions about me.
Your Doctor Will Truly Want To Know How You And Your Baby Are Doing
While I know my particular experience isn't the same for all women, or even most women, I've found that most doctors take a genuine interest in their patients and the babies they deliver. My doctor and I still talk, to this day, about my little family and she always asks to see pictures of my daughter. That kind of connection, while not necessarily universal, truly is one of a kind. It's also a connection that can make any initial awkwardness during your postpartum visit, go away.
It Will Hurt
Look, it hasn't been all that long since you've pushed (or had) a tiny (or not so tiny) human out of you. You are going to be sore. Sure, it's been six weeks and you probably feel better than you've been feeling postpartum, but it's not going to be super comfortable. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself some time. Your body just did a miraculous thing, so even if it isn't 100 percent after six weeks, it's doing just fine.
Now Is The Time To Ask Any And All Questions. Seriously, Don't Hold Back.
Now is not the time to hold back. I mean, your doctor (probably) helped you welcome your baby into the world. They've seen it all. Don't be afraid to ask questions about postpartum sex or how you should be feeling or any signs of postpartum depression you may or may not be experiencing. You have nothing to prove, mom. You've already done something truly incredible, so ask ask ask away.
You Can Start, Change, Or Restart Your Preferred Method Of Birth Control...
This visit will make it relatively easy for you to change and/or alter your preferred methods of birth control, primarily because you haven't been on birth control for a good while. I liked to consider this visit as a "new start" of sorts.
....However, If You Choose Not To, That's OK, Too
Other women don't feel comfortable using birth control right away, and that's also OK. This is your body, moms, so you're in charge of what happens to it and/or what goes into it. If you feel like taking a break from hormone-based birth control methods, and want to try other contraceptive choices and/or abstain entirely, that's entirely up to you.
There's No Rush. Don't Worry About Feeling "Normal."
I completely understand the urge to get "back to normal." I mean, maintaining a body positive mindset while you're pregnant can be difficult. You've lost complete body autonomy because someone else is, essentially, calling the shots, so when you've finally birthed them into the world, it can be difficult not to move a reasonable timeline up a few slots. Take. Your. Time. Your body just did a wonderful, miraculous and difficult thing. There's no set timetable you have to adhere to when feeling "like yourself."
It's Really Not So Scary
As scared as I was for my first postpartum visit, I think I worried myself far more than necessary. More often than not, it's more like catching up with a friend who, you know, just so happened to help deliver your baby. It's a necessary evil (if not a welcomed visit to let you know that all is well) and it's one that will give you a necessary peace of mind every new mom needs.