Hey Mama, in case no one told you today- you are doing a great job! We know you're busy taking care of baby, running the house, and prepping meals. But with all your running around- have you taken the time to care for yourself too? Your calendar is filled with milestone checkups for the baby’s first two years, but during this time you need to take the time to schedule four vital appointments for yourself too. So find a babysitter, call Grandma, or have daddy watch the kids while you visit the doctor, and get yourself a treat while you are out by yourself!
- Post Partum Exam 6 weeks after delivery your doctor will need to see you to determine how your body is healing. The doctor has a variety of things to examine including: incisions healing properly, pelvic exam to ensure your reproductive organs are returning to their pre-pregnancy state, breasts, and your mental health. Now is a good time to talk with the doctor about how motherhood is going and any ups and downs you may be feeling. Up to 30% of moms experience depression within one year of childbirth. Your doctor can help you determine if you need help from a mental health professional. During this visit your doctor will likely give approval for sex (whether or not your ready is up to you). Don’t forget to talk to your doctor about family planning before you leave - it is possible to get pregnant while breastfeeding and before your menstrual cycle begins again.
- Physical Exam You spent the last 9 months visiting your OB frequently and having all sorts of tests run. But now that baby is out you still need to visit the doctor annually for a physical. The doctor can run a blood test to make sure your cholesterol is good or check your thyroid levels to determine if that exhaustion is just from baby or from an autoimmune condition called hypothyroidism. The National Institute of Health estimates that 10% of women develop some type of thyroid disorder within one year of giving birth. Let your doctor know of any other issues you may have including: wetting your pants when you sneeze, constipation, or struggling to bond with baby.
- Dentist Hopefully you were able to get your teeth cleaned at least once during your pregnancy. A visit to the dentist should be at the top of your must-do list because cavities are very common in post-partum women. Unfortunately, while you were busy nurturing your baby for 9 months, that little one was also taking calcium from your teeth and bones as needed for their development, making your teeth vulnerable to cavities. A simple x-ray can uncover any hidden issues. It is better to take care of them early before major (expensive!) dental work is needed.
- Eye Exam Do you find yourself squinting at the TV or at the grocery store while reading signs? It’s not just the lack of sleep causing you to squint. Vision problems are common in 50% of postpartum women due to major hormonal changes and other physical effects from childbearing. Remember those swollen cankles and fingers you had during pregnancy? Well unfortunately that fluid build up can also affect the lens and cornea of the eye. Try to schedule an eye exam after you have weaned your baby from nursing or sometime after your first post partum menstruation, this will allow for your hormones and fluid levels to even out a bit.
Don’t forget to congratulate yourself! Your body did an amazing thing nurturing a baby for 9 months in the womb and beyond. And incredible as the whole journey was, a lot of time there is an expense to your body. So as you kiss your little one on the head and remind yourself they were worth it, remember to call your doctor because you are worth it too. The good news is these visits are covered under your health and dental insurance policies!
Please share this post with a new mom and don’t forget to tell her she’s doing a great job!
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