Wondering what to expect in your 6 week postpartum checkup? Navigating the early postpartum days can be challenging and sometimes overwhelming. Sleep deprivation, hormonal fluctuations, and significant changes to your body skim the surface. Brushing your teeth and changing clothes can feel like accomplishments!
What to expect at 6 week postpartum checkup
Are you comparing yourself to others? You may wonder if your own postpartum experiences are “normal.” You may have questions about your healing, such as:
- “Should my incision to still hurt?”
- “Does everyone leak when they sneeze after having a baby?”
- “Am I the only one nervous about having sex for the first time postpartum?”
- “Is this the baby blues or something more?”
Why is the 6 week postpartum checkup important?
Most women will have a 6 week postpartum checkup with their OB. No matter how you feed your baby, your baby is most likely welcomed at this appointment. A pelvic exam may be needed, so consider childcare arrangements if necessary.
The 6 week postpartum checkup is the time to get some of your questions answered. Discuss any lingering health conditions. This is when you get the “all clear” to return to activities like exercise and intercourse. Use it to understand your birth experience and the healing process. Let’s discuss a few topics you may want to discuss at your 6 week postpartum checkup. You may also want to consider a 6 week postpartum checkup with a pelvic floor PT.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends checking in and see your provider several times before 12 weeks, as needed.
Review your labor and birth
Do you have any lingering questions you did not have a chance to ask at birth? Were there any concerns about your delivery that you want to discuss? Your 6 week postpartum checkup is a time to discuss your experience with your provider. You may have played your birth experience over and over in your head. Or, you may not have thought about it at all since your little one entered the world.
Having a birth plan before delivery is great, but as you may know, labor does not always follow this plan. Your experience may not be what you had imagined. This can be hard to process emotionally as well as physically. Talking through this experience with your provider can be helpful. You may have questions about interventions and why or how this may impact later births. This is the perfect time to get your questions answered. Write them down and bring them to your 6 week postpartum checkup.
Discuss persistent symptoms
This visit is also the time to discuss lingering physical symptoms. You’ll also want to check in on your healing process. Your body goes through several physical changes during pregnancy and childbirth. This can leave you feeling unrecognizable. No wonder we have questions about what is normal and what is not. You may have heard of terms like diastasis recti and pelvic organ prolapse. You may be wondering if you are experiencing any of these things. If you have concerns, your 6 week postpartum checkup is the perfect time for an assessment. If needed, they may refer you to a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Get a mental health check-in
The postpartum period can bring on a vast array of emotions. Your doctor will most likely inquire about how you have been feeling. They will ask how you are adjusting to the new demands of motherhood. Discuss any concerns, including increased anxiety, depression, exhaustion, or other overwhelming emotions. Sometimes, it can be hard to decipher between the typical “baby blues,” or postpartum depression. Your doctor can help you navigate these emotions. They can also recommend further resources if needed.
Discuss future issues/concerns
You may want to ask your doctor if you are due for any standard routine tests. This check up can help prevent future health care issues. Your doctor may also check your blood pressure and perform a pelvic exam, if necessary. If you had gestational diabetes, the condition may last up until 12 weeks after birth. At the 6 week postpartum check up, your GYN may check blood sugar levels.
Routine tests might include a pap smear or blood work, or follow-up postpartum visits. Now is also the time to discuss birth control options or birth control methods. You may want to inquire about the length of time your doctor recommends you wait to get pregnant again. You can also ask if they have any recommendations for future pregnancies.
Pelvic floor physical therapy referrals
In Louisiana (where we are!), a referral is not required to attend pelvic floor physical therapy. We like to see patients for their first session between 4-6 weeks postpartum. Bonus, if you book with us, you can bring your baby to the session. We also offer online sessions if you would like more support before the 4-week mark. Search the American Physical Therapy Association’s physical therapy locator if you aren’t local. Your OB can point you toward a skilled pelvic floor physical therapist if you have trouble.
The necessity of a postpartum pelvic floor physical therapy appointment
Because your body underwent major changes, a therapist can help your body heal. This appointment is necessary for both vaginal and cesarean births. A pelvic floor physical therapy appointment postpartum is standard in other countries. We can address symptoms you may have, including:
- Leakage (urinary or fecal)
- Pelvic pressure
- Prolonged postpartum bleeding
- Pain that you are experiencing, including abdominal, low back, pelvic, and hip pain
A 6 week postpartum checkup with an OB does not include screening for pelvic floor issues. A PT can perform a thorough exam to assess your muscle function and coordination. We can help guide you through your healing process to return to the activities you love. In our office, we can:
- Check you for diastasis recti
- Help you learn exercises to heal it
- Discuss any issues you had during pregnancy
- Discuss incontinence issues, painful sex
- Guide you on how to prepare for your first time after baby
- Review kegels (sometimes kegel can make issues “down there” worse)
- Discuss any other symptoms not listed in this post
Top questions to ask at your 6 week postpartum checkup with a PT
- Can you examine my abdominal wall for diastasis recti? If I have it, how severe is it?
- How is my pelvic floor strength and coordination?
- How has my scar (perineal or cesarean) healed? How is the tissue mobility? Can you show me some exercises to help with a massage around the area?
- Do I have a pelvic organ prolapse?
- Is pain normal during my postpartum exam or with intercourse?
- What can I do about vaginal dryness postpartum?
- What can I do to prepare for sex postpartum?
- What are some symptoms I should be on the lookout for?
The bottom line
While babies will have multiple doctor’s appointments over their first year of life, new mothers will often only have one (or two!). Postpartum care in America leaves something to be desired. Hopefully this will guide you in making the most of your 6 week postpartum checkup. We encourage you to seek answers to your concerns. We hope you pursue the care you need to heal, whether physical or emotional.
Check out our “What to expect from your body postpartum” series with advice for 0-2 weeks postpartum, 2-4 weeks postpartum and 4-8 weeks postpartum.
If you want to know more on how to take great care of your pelvic floor, get my FREE GUIDE with 6+ Simple Tips to Prevent or Overcome Pelvic Floor Problems.
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