How can we empower postpartum moms at their 6-week check up?
I was listening to a podcast recently with Dr. Nicole Rankins and Dr. Christine Sterling on preparing moms for the postpartum period. Not surprisingly, we need to do a better job. I loved listening to the perspective of two OB-GYNs and understanding what it’s like from both sides, as both the provider and the patient.
One big takeaway is the importance of advocating for yourself during pregnancy, delivery (a doula can be a great resource during this time), and postpartum. We must get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s always worth you standing up and advocating for yourself (if feasible). Something may be “common,” but that doesn’t mean it’s normal. Your body, your baby, your time (even if appointments are super short these days!).
Below are three topics Dr. Sterling recommended discussing with your provider at your six week appointment, along with questions. I found these SO helpful. Your doctor may not bring these up.
- Postpartum depression / anxiety: If you feel like you are experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, speak up. Don’t let someone tell you it’s “normal mom stuff.” If you feel like it’s affecting your quality of life, or you feel you need support, mention it. Not all providers will spend a lot of time here. As a patient you can say, “no. I don’t think this is normal mom stuff. I’m really suffering and I need next steps.” Be vocal and do not allow your pain to be brushed off.
- Returning to intimacy: Most women have not yet had intercourse by their 6-week check up. What happens if intercourse is painful? This is something to bring up with your provider. “If intercourse is painful. What are my next steps?” Have an action plan in place. What does your provider recommend? Can they provide you with a referral? Note: Pelvic Floor PTs are a great resource for pain with intercourse or penetration.
- Incontinence, Pelvic Organ Prolapse, and Diastasis Recti: After we have a baby our bodies change, which includes our lady parts and pelvic floor muscles. At your 6-week check up there’s A LOT going on, and it may be easy to miss signs of pelvic organ prolapse (or you may not be symptomatic yet). Ask your provider about POP. Talk about incontinence and leaking. Leaking is often normalized, but it shouldn’t be. If you do experience leaking, what should you do? If you suspect diastasis recti, who should you see? Bring up these topics with your provider because in my experience (and from what I’ve learned), it’s very rarely discussed.
Note: Pelvic Floor PT can assist with all three of these.
Listen to the full podcast below.
I remember my six-week check up lasting 10 minutes or so. Needless to say next time around, I’ll have a few questions prepared 🙂 What was your experience at your six week checkup?