The Postpartum Doctor's Visit Checklist, A Month By Month Guide
Raise your hand if you have mommy brain. There are so many changes that occur in your life from the time you find out you are pregnant, to the time you bring your baby home from the hospital, to the time your baby turns a year old. It is definitely the longest-shortest time. It's hard to balance all of your baby's needs as well as all of your own with so much on your mind. One of the things that new moms tend to put off most often is their health. Because of this, moms need a postpartum doctor's visit checklist for the first year after giving birth.
It's easy for an entire year to go by before you realize that you haven't gone back to the gynecologist since your six week postpartum follow-up. Thank goodness for reminder post cards and birth control refills, otherwise moms all around the country could go years without remembering the last time they had their yearly check-up. It's important to get preventative care so that you can continue to be a strong and healthy mama for your new baby.
Here is a month to month guide of all of the postpartum doctor's appointments you should make in the year after giving birth.
Your first follow-up appointment is usually at around six weeks, but if you had a C-section, your doctor will need to check your incision a week or two after delivery to make sure it's healing properly, according to Baby Center. Even if you didn't have a C-section, don't be afraid to contact your doctor if anything feels off.
Kids Health From Nemours warned that postpartum depression (PPD) can begin as early as two to three weeks after giving birth. If you start to feel sad, tearful, despairing, discouraged, hopeless, worthless, or alone contact your doctor right away. according to the American Academy of Family Physicians 30 to 70 percent of women experience the the "baby blues" in the first week postpartum. But the good new is that is usually resolves by 10 days postpartum. Keep your doc in the loop in case it turns out to be more serious.
It's time for your six-week check up. This appointment counts as your annual well-woman visit too. What To Expect noted that you will have a pelvic exam, a pap smear, and a breast exam during the six-week check up. You will also have your weight and blood pressure checked, and your doctor will check your uterus to make sure it is returning to its pre-pregnancy size. They will double check your episiotomy or C-section incision if that applies, and also check for blocked ducts, mastitis, hemorrhoids, and thyroid issues. If everything looks good, you should get the green light for sex and exercise.
Your doctor will probably ask how you're feeling mentally. Don't be afraid to be honest. With early intervention, you are less likely to suffer the long-term effects of postpartum depression.
This is also the time when you will discuss your birth control options.
If you didn't receive a blood transfusion during childbirth, you are now eligible to donate blood. After nine months of blood work, IVs, and childbirth, this may be the last thing on your mind. However, the World Heath Organization wants everyone to remember that, "blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life." Among other emergencies, blood donations are often needed for women with pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancies and hemorrhaging. If you have a personal calling to donate your blood, contact your local blood bank to schedule your appointment.
Pain that radiates from your lumbar spine, to your buttock, to the back of your leg is a sign of sciatica, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sciatica is common during the last trimester of pregnancy, but if it hasn't gone away by this point, it's time to talk to your primary care physician. Some moms live with what they believe to be sciatic pain for many months after delivery, but sciatica usually goes away after childbirth. Your pain could actually be caused by a childbirth or pregnancy-related back injury. Your doctor will likely refer you to see a specialist who can determine the cause of the pain, and what you should do to treat it.
If it's been at least 56 days since your last donation, you are eligible to donate blood again. Call your local blood bank your pull up to the nearest bloodmobile for your donation. You will probably get a movie ticket, a T-shirt, or a gift card for your donation. Save a life and get a gift, it's a win-win.
It's time to see your dentist for your bi-annual check-up if you haven't done so already. There's a long-held belief that babies pull calcium from your teeth while you're pregnant. According to Directions in Dentistry, a dental blog by California dentist Nicholas Calcaterra, this is actually a myth. He believes that morning sickness, acid reflux, changes in your diet, and oral hygiene are the real reason why you are at a high risk for tooth decay when you're pregnant. Regardless of the reason, your teeth are at additional risk for decay during this time so it's important to visit your dentist in the year after giving birth.
Many moms start to feel postpartum fatigue after several months of sleep deprivation. This is not uncommon, but Baby Center warned that postpartum fatigue can be a sign of hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland. A small percentage of women develop this condition four to eight months after giving birth. Be proactive and make an appointment with your primary care physician if you are feeling overly fatigued.
You are eligible to donate blood again. Consider saving another life.
It's time to schedule your yearly eye exam, especially if you have noticed changes in your eyesight. According to Health.com, pregnancy and lactation can cause temporary changes to your vision. Even though your eyes should clear up after you wean, it's important to get prescription lenses if your vision is less than ideal. This will keep you safe on the roads and also help prevent headaches related to strained vision.
Melasma, or the hyperpigmentation of the skin causing brown to gray-brown patches on the face, is common during pregnancy according to the American Academy of Dermatology. It can take several months for the skin to return to normal, but in the mean time you should schedule your yearly visit to the dermatologist. This way, your doctor can perform your routine skin cancer check, as well as give you advice on how to treat your melasma.
P.S. Don't forget to donate blood and save another life.
It's been almost a year since you had your baby. Time sure flies, doesn't it? You should make your next dental and gynecologist appointment (for 12 months postpartum) if you didn't make them at your last appointment. Dentists and gynecologists are notorious for scheduling several months out.
If it's been recommended, you should also have your mammogram done at this time so that your doctor has the results by your next appointment. Because the milk and density of extra tissue can make a mammogram tough to decipher, The Bump recommended insisting that your results be read by a radiologist with experience in reading the mammograms of lactating women if you are still nursing. (Don't forget, if it's been at least 56 days, you can donate blood again. You are such a life saver. )
It's time to see your dentist again. Remember, your teeth need to be cleaned every six months in order to stay healthy, especially in they year after giving birth. It's also time to visit your gynecologist, especially if you're on birth control or plan to get pregnant again soon.
Double check to make sure your mammogram results have been sent to your doctor a few days prior to your visit. Also, make sure that a full 12 months have passed since your last well woman, and a full six months since your last dental check-up, otherwise your insurance company may not cover the visit.