How to prepare for your postpartum exam. Do you need to go to your 6 week check up? How to know when you need more checkups after giving birth.
C is for Check-Up: The 6 week Postpartum Check Up at
Transcript from video:
Oh, hey, it’s time for another blog on the taboo ABCs of postpartum. C is for checkup, and we’re going to be talking about that usually only one postpartum checkup you get which is usually a 6 week check up (sometimes between 4-8 weeks). Now, for the record, I don’t think one checkup is sufficient at all. But we are going to talk about how to maximize that checkup. Also we discuss what to talk to your provider about and how to be your own best advocate.
If you’re new here, my name is Chelsea Skaggs. I am a postpartum coach and the founder of Postpartum Together. And we are freaking committed to making sure that the postpartum narrative changes so that women are more educated, normalized, supported and empowered in the postpartum season.
Now, reminder, postpartum is not just a few weeks. Postpartum is the year ish after baby. And postpartum is not just related to depression, postpartum is a season we all go through regardless of a diagnosis or not. So postpartum is the season after baby full of transitions that we all go through as birthing humans.
Related: Where do we learn about postpartum?
We Believe Women Deserve More Check Ups After Baby
A whole other tangent is that one postpartum checkup is not enough. The ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommend comprehensive follow-ups after having a baby. One appointment is not comprehensive follow up. However, we still have this issue of insurance and providers and the communication and honoring the postpartum season. We know that postpartum is a time that is often just kind of disregarded and pushed under the rug, and we’re not given full on comprehensive support. So we’re going to talk today about how to make that one 6 week check up appointment the best it possibly can be. We also discuss if and when you need to how to advocate for more appointments and more care for yourself.
Now, usually, this appointment happens between four and eight weeks. If you had a belly birth, you might have an earlier appointment. Depending on circumstances, it’s probably going to be somewhere between four and eight weeks. At this point, you’re still healing in a lot of ways. You are still living in a lot of a fog. This is kind of a survival mode.
I know from my own experience, and from some of my clients that when we go to that appointment, it’s hard to even know where to start what to ask. Chances are your provider is going to ask some questions, checking on you, but they may not address all the things that you actually need them to address in that appointment. It’s important that you come in proactively knowing what you need answers to and what you need checked on so that you can feel confident to leave that appointment and continue healing and continue growing as a new mom.
What to ask at your Postpartum 6-Week Check Up
So the first thing is that physical healing, right, they’re likely going to check your whether it’s a belly incision, whether it’s in the vaginal tearing and repair that is happening in that area. No matter how you gave birth, there is recovery, they’re probably going to check how your bleeding is- is it down to very minimal or has it stopped at this point? They’re going to check if everything is healing- scars are healing, how is that doing? If you’re still experiencing pain, this is a good time to bring that up like hey, I’m still feeling this way. Is there something that I should be concerned about? Do you know something I can do about it?
Related: Postpartum Plan Checklist
While we’re talking about physical healing, I want you to bring up your pelvic floor. This doesn’t always come up in appointments from a lot of my clients, we actually have to go out and self advocate for this. You carry the baby, right in this vicinity, resting on your pelvis. And regardless of if you gave vaginal or belly birth, you had a baby resting on your pelvis, affecting your organs, affecting the tissue in the muscle and everything that makes up your pelvic floor.
Asking about the Pelvic Floor at your 6-week checkup
In some countries, pelvic floor therapy is standard care for everyone after baby. Here in the US, we often have to either have a big problem we bring up or we have to advocate.
Hey, I know my body went through a lot of stress, I think that pelvic floor therapy would be beneficial for me.
Chances are, it would be beneficial for you. But we know that especially if you’re feeling:
-Bearing down weight called prolapse.
-Experiencing pain & incontinence.
-Once you’re ready to start having sex again, if that is painful and uncomfortable.
These are good times to talk about pelvic floor therapy.
Be that bridge, again, be your own best self advocate.
Related: What is the pelvic floor?
Ask about Mental Health at your Postpartum Check Up
Now, also at this appointment, you’re likely going to get a mental health screening, this is for postpartum depression. I’m going to tell you right now, it has some language in it that can be suggestive, and in my opinion, a little tricky. Some questions are like, I feel sad for no good reason. And you’re like, well, I don’t know everything in my life just changed. Is that a good reason? Or is that not a good reason? I don’t know who’s the judge of whether this is a good reason.
If you’re feeling off, don’t feel ashamed of how you need to answer those questions. And don’t feel like there’s not room to press into it more and ask your provider to talk more with you about your mental health. Depression is not just feeling sad, it can be rage or other experiences.
It doesn’t have to be: “I can’t get out of bed.” It sometimes is, and that’s worth addressing, too. But know that in motherhood, you’re going to feel off, you’re going to feel different. But if you’re just really feeling like your day to day is compromised, bring that up. Don’t let that screening be where it stops. I passed screenings in situations where I likely needed more support. That phrasing like “for no good reason” really threw me off. Like my whole life just changed, and my vagina is falling apart, and I haven’t slept like that feels like a good reason. So talk more about that.
Mental Health and Birth Trauma
If you experienced birth trauma, it is important to consider how that could have impact you. It could impact your bond and your relationship with your baby, your relationship with your body, your confidence as a mom. So these are all important things to bring up in the 6 week check up. If you feel like you would benefit from therapy that’s okay, too. There’s no shame in that. Ask your provider if they have a maternal health therapists that they would recommend. Maybe it’s someone in the network.
Related: Postpartum Anxiety Story
Sex & Exercise After the 6-Week Check Up
I want you to make sure that you are talking about more than just your reengagement. We think of this six weeks as like, check mark, you can have sex and exercise now. But you guys, it’s not that simple. You don’t have to start your same intense workouts right after baby and you don’t have to get back to sex in the same way right after baby. So don’t look at this as just like this green light means go full force, I’m healed. You are not healed at six weeks.
It takes intention and it takes getting back into things. So ask your provider, “What would be an appropriate way to get back into exercise? What would be an appropriate way to move back towards intimacy. Again, we want this to be a positive experience for you. Do not be afraid to ask more questions and go a little bit deeper. Your provider is probably going to also talk to you about family planning. Go into it knowing-what do you want? Know that you have a say and you can ask those questions about what are what are the risks, what are the benefits and find the best solution for you.
Purpose of the Postpartum 6-Week Check Up
I want you to feel like this checkup is about you and that you are worthy of the time and the space that it takes and that it is not rushed, that it is not blown off. If you need more appointments, make another appointment. Tell them that you need their support.
A lot of people think that postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar, like all of these things happen in the first few weeks. And that’s not always the case, it can have an onset at three or six or nine months.
And then your pelvic floor- if you are three months out, and you start to have sex again and it’s really painful, you need to talk to them about getting that pelvic floor therapy. If, you’re having incontinence, which means that you’re not holding your fluids in- peeing, pooping, farting without control, you can schedule that appointment and continue to talk about those things.
Be Your Own Best Advocate: Prepare for Postpartum and Maximize the 6 Week Check up
Don’t feel like your postpartum care has to be limited. We have to be our own best advocates. And that comes from understanding what to bring to the table advocating for our own best needs, and really using that time.
So I hope that this helps you to be more prepared for your postpartum checkup. Whether it’s coming up in a day a week, or you’re you know, just right now expecting or thinking about conceiving, know that this is a space where you deserve time, you deserve attention, and you deserve to have the resources and support.
Again, I am Chelsea Skaggs and the founder of Postpartum Together if you are pregnant girl, get my postpartum planning ecourse that is going to walk you through all the things you need to have prepared for an empowered and supported postpartum and life after baby. If you are you know already postpartum, Maybe you want to grab the postpartum sex Back in the Sack eCourse where we talk about the mental, the emotional, and the physical implications of intimacy again after baby. Maybe you need some extra support, some guidance, some tips, resources and empowerment, check out our postpartum together small groups.