According to a new study conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University, fewer than half of women keep the appointments their doctors recommend they make shortly after giving birth.
While you may be sick of doctor’s appointments after spending the last nine months in and out of your gynae’s rooms, your six-week postpartum appointment is one you definitely shouldn’t miss.
“Women need to understand the importance of a six-week visit to the obstetrician – noPret only to address concerns and healing after delivery, but also to follow up on possible future health risks, review the pregnancy and make the transition to primary care,” said the lead researcher of the study, Dr Wendy Bennett in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. “Women with pregnancy complications are at higher risk for some chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, and these visits are an opportunity to assess risks and refer to primary care providers to work on long-term preventative care.”
What to expect at your postpartum appointment
Jude Polack, founder and director of the Genesis Clinic in Johannesburg, Gauteng explains what moms can expect to happen at their six-week postpartum appointment:
- You’ll have a medical check where you’ll have a pap smear. Your blood pressure, pulse, urine and weight will also be checked. Your doctor will address any concerns or problems regarding incontinence, constipation or haemorrhoids.
- Your perineum will be checked, especially if you needed stitches after the birth.
- Your abdomen will be examined to see if your uterus has properly contracted to its pre-pregnancy dimensions.
- Your breasts and nipples will be checked for lumps and masses or blocked milk ducts. You’ll also have any opportunity to discuss any breastfeeding problems with your midwife or doctor.
- The six-week check-up usually marks the end of the ‘no sex’ period and your doctor or midwife will discuss contraception options with you.
- Your midwife or doctor will ascertain if there are any baby blues or depression issues you might be struggling with and you’ll have an opportunity to discuss this with her.
- The six-week check-up will give you a chance to talk about any physical or emotional challenges you may be facing and ask any questions you may have.