If you are reading this, you are probably either currently pregnant or have been in the past. If that is not the case, thank you for sticking with this blog and loving on Heartfed, we appreciate you. Anyways, for the majority of our readers you will be pretty familiar with the pregnancy appointment breakdown for mama’s. As a general rule it goes as such:
A doctor’s appointment every 4 weeks from when you find out you are pregnant until week 28.
Then you will start to meet with your doctor a bit more regularly, every other week, until week 36.
Once 36 weeks occurs, you will then come in every week.
During these appointments you will discuss a multitude of topics;
- Your health history.
- Any symptoms you may be experiencing.
- Blood work results
- Glucose test
- Group B strep
- Additional testing for gene mutations, gender, etc.
- Pelvic exams
- And more
Hopefully you have been able to build a relationship with your OB and are feeling comfortable, supported, and ready for labor to arrive. However, what about after labor?
Postpartum appointments look quite different for Mama once baby has arrived.
There is one.
One opportunity to ask your questions.
And, hello, of course you probably have a laundry list of them including questions about baby, sleeping, breastfeeding, sex, your scar from a cesarean, and of course YOUR VAGINA! Just to name a few. But don’t worry, you have AN appointment to get all of that in. AN appointment to ask all of these questions, receive necessary referrals, get the guidance you need, and feel supported. Just do it in the 15 minute time slot, ok?
I have recently read that ACOG, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is now recommended a check up at 3 weeks and ongoing medical care during the postpartum period, as needed. And, I LOVE THIS. I look forward to seeing it in practice. Until then, the 6 week postpartum appointment for Mama will look a little like this:
- check-up (including blood pressure, weight, pulse)
- a survey about your emotional/mental state
- checking of your uterus
- an opportunity to ask questions
Real life story coming now. I have to say, I loved the doctors that I was able to work with for my babies. They were cheery, answered my questions, didn’t throw judgement my way based on which route I wanted to take (with the exception of one which we will save for another time), and overall wanted to the best for me. However, the best for me was a LOOOONNNNGGG road after my second child.
My birth ended with a beautiful boy, my loving husband next to me, a successful VBAC that I fought for, but OH MY F*CK*NG GOODNESS, it was traumatic. It was and will be one of the most memorable and worst experiences of my life. I had a plethora of complications throughout labor and even more postpartum, but at my six-week appointment I wasn’t bleeding and didn’t show signs of postpartum depression so I was sent on my way. Again, my doctors were great, I knew they wanted the best for me, they listened when I told them something didn’t feel right, they empathized and said to give it time. I was not given an outside referral for the areas they weren’t specialized in, I was not given more information on pelvic floor health/recovery, I was not given information on postpartum anxiety or depression. I was given a smile, some encouragement and an option to make an appointment for a pap smear in the upcoming years.
Needless to say, here I am, over a year and half later still making progress towards my recovery. After various doctor’s visits, specialists, physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and more I am getting my life back. But I wish I was given this opportunity sooner. I wish I had more follow ups for ME. Not because I am more important than anyone else, or more important than my kids, but because I needed these follow-ups to be a mother to my kids, I needed them to be a productive and helpful member of society. I needed it before I broke.
Not all women will need these follow ups. Some labors and recoveries are tougher than others and some are easier. My hope from sharing this blog is to empower women to advocate for yourself before you get to the point I was at. Ask for referrals even when they aren’t readily handed to you. If you feel like you are leaving an appointment without any further support or action, ask for who you could talk to next. IT IS NOT THE DOCTOR’S FAULT THAT THEY DON’T HAVE THE ANSWER but we should be given the opportunity and guidance of who to look to next if they aren’t sure what to do next.
I encourage you as a new mother to support yourself and your family by:
- Asking for another follow up appointment in a few weeks.
- Asking for a referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist.
- Being honest about your emotional and mental health.
- Sharing any pain you are having, even if it’s personal or embarrassing.
Take care of yourself Mama so you can take care of your precious little one.