Pregnancy brings with it a lot of changes to a woman’s body, and so does delivery. If you had a pregnancy complication or a C-section, you may have a post-partum checkup as soon as one to two weeks after delivery. If you had no complications and a vaginal delivery, your post-partum checkup will likely take place around six weeks after delivery.
The purpose of the post-partum checkup is to meet with the doctor to be sure that your body is healing properly and to make sure there are no pregnancy-related issues that are ongoing. The checkup also ensures that any complications you may have experienced have been resolved. Finally, the post-partum checkup is a chance to discuss your mental health with your doctor, since pregnancy and delivery bring about many hormonal changes.
How The Post-Partum Checkup Works
During the post-partum checkup, our doctor palpitates your uterus to make sure that it has shrunken back to size. A pelvic exam may be performed, along with a pap smear to check for abnormalities of the vagina, cervix, and uterus. You may get a breast exam if you are not nursing. In nursing women, our doctor may ask about milk supply and complications such as clogged milk ducts or mastitis.
Your blood pressure and heart rate will be checked, because many women develop high blood pressure at the end of pregnancy. Women will also be weighed to see if they are losing some of the weight that they gained during pregnancy. If you are experiencing a lack of weight loss or are tired, losing hair, or cold, our doctor may order some lab tests such as thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
After pregnancy, up to 20 percent of women develop a temporary hypothyroid condition that causes their TSH levels to be high. Your obstetrician may treat you for this or make a referral to an endocrinologist. Obstetricians also ask new mothers how they are adjusting to motherhood. Our obstetrician may diagnose postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis if symptoms point to these conditions.
Who Should Get a Post-Partum Checkup?
Women who had a complicated pregnancy or an emergency delivery need follow-up care with the doctor. At this checkup, our obstetrician checks for complications such as anemia, persistence of gestational diabetes, and high blood pressure. If you had a major complication such as a placental abruption or a uterine rupture, your healing and recovery will be checked. If you had a tear during delivery and received stitches, the area of the incision will be examined for healing and signs of infection.
If you had a stillborn child, you would need a post-partum checkup to make sure that your body is physically healing and to make sure that your mental health needs are being met. Women who have a miscarriage may also need a postpartum checkup to make sure that the body is recovering and to test for any complications. The post-partum checkup is also a time when birth control can be discussed or planning for the next pregnancy can take place. All women who delivered one or more babies should receive a post-partum checkup for their reproductive health.