Sunday, February 17, 2013

Postpartum Checkup

You will probably have an appointment for a checkup 4 to 6 weeks after delivery to make sure your body is healing without problems. If you had a cesarean birth, you may need to have your checkup sooner.

General Physical Examination

This part of the checkup includes:

  • Measuring your weight. A woman usually returns to her prepregnancy weight about 6 months after delivery. The postpartum period is not a good time to diet. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet low in fat. For more information on weight loss after having a baby, talk to your health care professional, who can advise you on the best way to lose weight.

  • Taking your blood pressure. During pregnancy, your blood pressure may increase. By the end of the sixth week after delivery, your blood pressure usually returns to its prepregnancy level.

  • Examining your breasts. It is important to have your breasts checked for lumps and nipple problems. Your health care professional can show you how to check your breasts. Breast self-examination is important to do every month. If you are bottle-feeding, your breasts will usually return to their normal shape and size in 4 to 6 weeks. You still need to check your breasts regularly for any changes. If you are breastfeeding, your breasts still may be full and feel firm by the sixth week. Checking your breasts daily for lumps or plugged ducts can help prevent problems with discomfort or infection.

  • Examining your abdominal incision. If you had a cesarean birth or your tubes were cut or tied, you have an incision. Your health care professional will check your incision to make sure healing is complete.

Pelvic Examination

This part of the checkup is an internal examination to check the health of your ovaries, uterus (womb), cervix (opening into the womb) and vagina (birth canal). Your health care professional also will check your perineum (area around the birth canal) for healing. The first part is checking your perineum. Your health care professional will examine the areas around the vagina, urethra (opening of the bladder) and rectum for healing. The second part of the internal examination is checking your vagina and cervix. Your health care professional will use a speculum to allow a visual inspection of the vagina and cervix. The last part of the examination is checking your uterus and ovaries. Your health care professional will feel the shape and size of both. Vaginal bleeding, or lochia, usually stops in the first 4 to 6 weeks postpartum. Bleeding that begins one month after delivery is usually your period.

Questions and Answers

After the examinations, your health care professional will tell you if your body is healing properly after childbirth. This is a good time to ask questions. You may be wondering about returning to work, exercising, birth-control methods or general health concerns. Write your questions on paper and take them with you to your appointment. Review them with your health care professional.

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