“Postpartum” as a word just means “after childbirth.” After you give birth, you’re technically postpartum for the rest of your life. Medically speaking, you’ll be considered postpartum for 6 to 12 weeks after you give birth. Postpartum people should have a postpartum checkup with their healthcare provider 2-3 weeks after giving birth, and at the 6 or 8 week point after delivery, regardless of what type of birth you had.
What happens at my 6-8 week appointment?
Your healthcare provider wants to make sure you’re doing well physically, mentally, and emotionally after giving birth. Having a newborn is a major life change, and your healthcare provider is here to answer any questions and help you adjust.
Your healthcare provider may examine you to make sure you’re healing comfortably, talk to you about how you’re feeling emotionally, discuss your choices for birth control (even if you’re not ready for intercourse), and discuss any ongoing treatment or follow-up tests you may need. You’ll definitely talk about activity, and what types of physical activity are safe for you to start trying. Remember, even if your provider says it’s medically safe for you to exercise, have intercourse, etc. you are the expert on your body and mind – there is truly no rush. If you’re breastfeeding, they’ll ask you about how feedings are going, and can often refer you to specialized breastfeeding support if needed.
What will we talk about?
Your pregnancy is over, but your body takes time to heal. One of the reasons for this appointment is to give you an opportunity to talk with your healthcare provider about how your body feels post-pregnancy. Some changes are totally normal and your provider can offer reassurance or tips for coping, but certain symptoms could indicate a potential problem. Some symptoms you might experience postpartum include:
- Vaginal pain: You can expect some vaginal pain, soreness or heaviness after a vaginal birth, but if your pain gets worse over time or you’re still seeing heavy bleeding the time this appointment rolls around, it may be cause for concern.
- Problems urinating: After giving birth, you may experience pain or burning with urination, or a frequent need to urinate. Persistent symptoms like these could indicate a urinary tract infection or need for pelvic floor therapy, so your healthcare provider will check in with you about how you feel.
- Hemorrhoids: And while you’re talking about bathroom time, your healthcare provider may ask if you’re experiencing pain or bleeding during bowel movements. Hemorrhoids are a common problem during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, and can be treated with topical medication or a stool softener.
- Sore or leaking breasts: If you’re not breastfeeding, your milk will likely dry up in a week or two after giving birth. If you choose to breastfeed, your healthcare provider will ask you about how feedings are going and if you’re experiencing any challenges or soreness.
- Hormone changes: Pregnancy and postpartum are a hormonal roller coaster, and your body will still be recovering. You might experience night sweats, skin changes, or changes in your mood. These things are normal, but that doesn’t make them easy to handle. Your provider can offer support and treatment when indicated.
What questions should I ask?
There’s typically just two postpartum appointments, meaning that you may not be able to cover every single thing that’s going on with your physical, mental, and overall health following pregnancy. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, write them down and ask about them at your appointment if it’s coming up soon. If you have questions about whether something is normal with you or Baby, this is the perfect time to ask. If you have questions about your feelings, sex drive, menstruation, or anything related to your physical or mental health, your healthcare provider will be happy to answer them. That being said, you can always call the office for advice or an earlier appointment if you’re concerned about a particular symptom!
Coming prepared with questions can help you get the most out of your appointment, but don’t hesitate to schedule additional follow-up appointments if you need them.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- Mayo Clinic. “Postpartum care: What to expect after a vaginal delivery.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. March 24, 2015. Web.
- “Postpartum care.” MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. September 28, 2016. Web.