What Happens at the Postpartum Checkup
March 2, 2017
It’s been a long road since that first prenatal appointment. Now, six weeks after giving birth, it’s time to visit your doctor for your last checkup. If you had a c-section, you’ll probably be asked to come in sooner to make sure you’re healing properly from surgery.
Since this postbaby stuff is completely new to you—the aches, the pains, the emotions—write down all your questions beforehand. Remember: There are no stupid questions and it’s completely expected that you’ll want a few (or more!) answers at this visit.
“I usually talk to my patients about how the pregnancy and delivery went,” says Laura Riley, MD, the director of Labor and Delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We discuss breastfeeding and when they’re going back to work. I also talk about diet and exercise. It’s important for your health to lose the baby weight.”
It’s an especially good time to discuss birth control options. Just because you’re breastfeeding and not menstruating doesn’t mean you still can’t get pregnant. “Risk of complications in a subsequent pregnancy is lowest when you wait at least nine months after delivery to conceive again,” says Riley.
Your doctor will also check your breasts for lumps and abnormal discharge. If you’re breastfeeding, she’ll make sure your ducts aren’t clogged or that you don’t have an infection. She’ll look at your abdomen for returning muscle tone and do a pelvic exam to see if your uterus is almost back to its normal (pre-pregnancy) size and that the cervix is closed. Plus, she’ll check how well any episiotomy or laceration has healed.
During this visit, your doctor will also check your weight and blood pressure. Any lab tests she thinks are necessary will also be administered, such as a blood count if you lost a lot of blood during birth. If you’re having excessive pain, bleeding or problems with an incision, definitely tell your doctor, says Riley.