The Final Checkup
The postpartum checkup was once done at 6 weeks. In May of 2018, new guidelines put out by the American College of Gynecologists (ACOG) state that 3 weeks is the ideal time for this exam with a more in-depth follow up appointment scheduled around 12 weeks. This allows for any issues to be spotted and treated sooner. This checkup is usually focused on ensuring that you are healing physically and emotionally as expected.
For some people, this checkup is an exciting time because you are cleared to return to your normal exercise routines, resume sexual intercourse and potentially go back to work. For others, this checkup can be emotional as you have developed deep meaningful relationships with your care providers. Either way lets discuss what to expect when you are visiting with your care providers.
An External Exam
This exam is to physically examine your fundal height and ovaries for tenderness and return to pre-pregnancy size. Your vulva is examined to follow up on the healing any stitches or tearing that may have occurred during birth. If you had a surgical birth, the incision is examined. A breast exam is also done to check for signs of any nipple trauma if you are breastfeeding.
A Full Pelvic Exam
A speculum is used to examine the internal structures of your pelvis. If there was trauma to your cervix or vagina this will ensure that you are healing properly. This leads to the ideal opportunity to have a discussion about your birth control options. If you have a particular type in mind, this is the best time to discuss it with your care provider. They will help you determine the best option for you if you are breastfeeding as well.
Are you adjusting to parenthood?
How are you feeling?
Not physically- how are you doing emotionally?
Do you know the signs of postpartum mood disorders?
Not all providers discuss this with their patients, unfortunately. Some providers will administer the Edinburgh postnatal depression scale which helps them evaluate your mental state post baby. These 10 questions about the previous 7 days, give a simple snapshot into your mental state. The scoring helps your provider know if you need additional support. Knowing that it is an option will give you some insight and help you take charge of your mental health postpartum.
For more information about postpartum mood and anxiety disorders(PMADs), join us for a free webinar!
If you need any help knowing what to expect as you prepare for your final checkup, or you need additional resources with further adjusting to your new normal- please know that we will do our best to get you exactly what you need.
Hands-on help, sleep shaping for your baby, meal prep assistance, whatever it may be- our postpartum doulas are ready to step in and be in your corner!