The Importance of Postpartum HealthcareJuly 10, 2023
The body goes through a lot during pregnancy, and regular prenatal checkups allow women and their doctors to monitor those changes and address any health concerns. Once baby arrives, a mother’s focus commonly turns to their little one’s health, growth, and developmental progress, as well as the day-to-day needs of their family. Postpartum checkups help ensure new moms continue prioritizing their own health, even after baby arrives.
Postpartum care is an essential part of a woman’s lifelong healthcare experience. It’s also necessary in helping detect and prevent serious health complications that could result from pregnancy and delivery. Even with all the diapers, feedings, and sleepless nights of the newborn stage, it’s important for new mothers to prioritize their recovery, health, and overall well-being.
Doctors recommend that new mothers attend an initial postpartum visit within 3 to 6 weeks of giving birth. During this visit the doctor may:
- Perform a full physical exam, including a pelvic exam. Whether delivery was vaginal or via C-section, this exam helps ensure proper healing.
- Ask about mom’s mental and emotional health. Around 85% of women experience a shift in their mood during postpartum. If symptoms last longer than a couple weeks, it’s important to ask for help.
- Discuss sexual health and birth control options. This may include when it’s safe to have sex, what to do if there is pain during intercourse, and the timing of any future pregnancies.
- Recommend additional care as needed. For anyone who experienced health issues such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes during pregnancy, ongoing care could help reduce the risk of serious health issues later in life.
- Ask what questions or concerns there are about recovery. Women experiencing pain, fatigue, bleeding, or any other unusual symptoms postpartum, should discuss them with their doctor.
An initial postpartum visit is a critical part of taking care of a new mother’s health, but The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that postpartum care be an ongoing process during the first 12 weeks after delivery. This may include multiple visits to ensure any mental and physical health issues are being supported and addressed. Women should talk to their doctor before delivery about creating a postpartum care plan to ensure they are taken care of throughout this new stage of life.
Caring for baby
Of course, making sure baby is thriving in those first days, weeks, and months after delivery is important, as well. Their first visit to either a pediatrician or a family doctor is usually due 3 to 5 days after delivery followed by regular appointments at:
- 1 week
- 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 months
- 2 years and beyond
During these well-visits, baby’s doctor will perform various tests and complete a full-body exam to make sure they are developing as expected. They will also be able to provide any vaccines baby needs.
Resources for family wellness
For those struggling with things like transportation for appointments, finances, food insecurity, or childcare, there are often low or no-cost resources in your community that can help.
With multiple doctors, appointments, and tests for mom and baby during pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond, the easier it is to manage everything, the better. The SydneySM Health app and unicaremass.com enable members to do things like review claims and coverage or search for doctors.
When mothers focus on their health and well-being the whole family benefits. Making postpartum care a priority can help new moms feel their best during an exciting time.