Women who find out they're pregnant will schedule a prenatal visit asap. (We do recommend pre-conception checkups, too). But what is also critical is making sure you are as religious with your postnatal checkups. In fact, the new guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) emphasize that care after birth should be an ongoing process, rather than a single encounter.
Here are a few of the expert recommendations in the new postpartum care guidelines:
Make a postpartum care plan.
Create a postpartum care plan with the kind of care you put in your birth plan. Discuss with your doctor how best to manage the "fourth trimester" and your overall healthcare now. Every pregnancy and childbirth alters a woman's body and even years after birth.
How many kids do you plan to have? How far apart do you want your pregnancies to be? What kind of family planning or contraceptive options are you willing to try or applies to your condition? Discussing reproductive care with your doctor is essential.
Instead of going back to your doctor for your postpartum checkup six weeks after giving birth, a new mom's well-woman care visit is recommended at three weeks post-birth. Follow-up checkups should be done as needed and no later than 12 weeks after the first. It should be tailored to the woman's case. Women who've had complicated pregnancies or traumatic deliveries are recommended to seek counseling and follow-up care.
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Don't forget your mental health checkup.
The first and subsequent postpartum visit should cover nor just the physical aspect of recovering after childbirth but your social and psychological well-being. All moms should get help and receive care whether she's experiencing the baby blues, postpartum depression or anxiety. (Check the symptoms of the types of perinatal mood disorders or PMADs here.)
Appropriate postpartum physical and mental care is necessary when you have a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. In fact, this is a good time to see if your body requires extra-care if you plan to get pregnant again.
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So ladies, don't shortchange yourself in getting the health care you need and deserve. Self-care should rank high on your priority list after a life-changing event such as pregnancy and childbirth. You and your baby will equally benefit from a more comprehensive medical attention and follow-up care after birth. Schedule postnatal visits with your little one's well-baby checkups. Or look at leaving for an hour or two for your postpartum checkup as an excellent time to relax and recharge before you dive back into the demands of caring for a newborn.