The last few weeks were a whirlwind of excitement that changed life forever. A few weeks ago, you were pregnant, and now you have a baby at home. With your body going through so many changes in such a short period, you have a laundry list of things you need to get round to doing to ensure your postpartum health.
It's essential to keep in touch with your pediatrician and your OB/GYN in the weeks and months after birth. Previously, it was routine for new mothers to get a postpartum checkup at the four to six-week mark after delivery. Moms who give birth through C-section might have to go a bit earlier.
However, official guidelines from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests women see their doctor or OB/GYN within three weeks of delivery. They'll need another comprehensive physical before the 12-week mark as well.
What are the medical checkup points you need to take care of while adjusting to mom's life? Here's everything you need to know about your postpartum medical review.
Go for your Annual Checkup
Your postpartum checkup counts as your annual checkup as well. Your doctor will run all the usual blood tests, such as blood glucose, kidney and liver function, and a full hormone panel. You'll get a pap smear, as well as a check of your breasts for lumps.
Your doctor will speak to you about your general health, including a blood pressure test and respiration exam. They'll ask you about your nutrition and supplementation and your stress levels at home. Your doctor wants to get a complete overview of your health to update their medical history.
At the general checkup, your doctor will also review your mental health for signs of postpartum depression – an extension of the baby blues. Your doctor works with you to ensure you recover completely from the effects of the delivery on your pelvic floor and vagina.
Examining the Post-Pregnancy Body
Your OB/GYN will perform a pelvic exam on you to check if the uterus is returning to its pre-pregnancy dimensions. After the shrinking process finishes, your uterus should be about the size of a pear. It can take around 8 to 10-weeks for this to happen.
Those women that underwent C-section or a C-section, health care providers ensure the incision is healing properly. During the pregnancy, the thyroid gland starts to work overtime producing FSH, T4, and T3. As a result, the thyroid may swell into a "goiter," making it protrude slightly at the front of the next. This inflammation should subside within two to four weeks after the birth of your child. A hormone panel gives the doctor an overview of your estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormones.
Overproduction of thyroid hormone can lead to a cortisol imbalance where you start to feel anxious. Your physician may also ask you if you feel nervous or anxious, as this can be a sign of postpartum thyroiditis, mimicking the effects of an overactive thyroid – this effect can last for months.
Your physician will also ask if you're experiencing any constipation, incontinence, or hemorrhoids — which are all common questions during postpartum examinations.
If things look good, your doctor gives you the green light to start raising activity levels. It's time to begin your exercise routine, and women that undergo c-sections can lift things again.
Talk about Your Mental Health with Your Doctor
It's normal for women to undergo a case of the "baby blues" after their child's birth. The changes in hormone levels in the days and weeks around the child's birth play havoc with your mind.
After delivery, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop substantially. As a result of the change, it's common for women to feel the onset of negative emotions, like sadness and frustration. It takes the body a few weeks to adjust hormone production to a postpartum lifestyle.
During this period, you may find you spontaneously burst into tears or feel feelings of disappointment and irritation towards yourself and your family. However, after two or three weeks, your hormones bounce back, and you feel fine again.
However, some women develop problems with getting their hormones back online again. As a result of the extended baby blues, they form a condition known as "postpartum depression." PPD has a more profound effect on the mind than a case of the baby blues.
Doctors will treat your PPD depending on your unique situation. If you feel like your depression symptoms aren't getting any better, speak to your doctor about a solution.
Get Back on the Pill
Some women who have a hard time dealing with postpartum depression need to get back on the pill. Birth control is a form of hormonal medication designed for hormone management.
Getting back on the pill might help to stabilize your mood and beat the baby blues. However, always consult with your doctor before jumping back on your birth control.
Red Light Therapy Treatments
Restarting your birth control regimen means that you're also going to start thinking about getting back to your sex life. And your partner is thinking about that too. However, natural birth effects can wreck the structural integrity of the vaginal walls and pelvic floor.
Even women undergoing C-section births must go through the experience of the doctor cutting deep into the pelvic floor. While you're recovering, the tissue damage can leave sex feeling different than before you got pregnant. Are you wondering how to tighten up your vagina after birth?
Women that go through a natural birth can consider red light therapy treatments and CO2 laser therapy for vaginal rejuvenation. The CO2 laser vaporizes any loose skin on the vaginal canal. Red light therapy with a device like the MyElleVibe (our device) can assist with repairing the structural integrity of the vaginal canal and the pelvic floor.
Red light penetrates deep into the skin cells, muscles, and ligaments in the vagina and pelvic floor. How do you tighten your vagina? - After 12-minutes of therapy, you produce an accelerated healing effect that helps your pelvis and vagina recover faster from the trauma of childbirth.