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Congratulations on your new little family member! Your body has just done something incredible. You’ve grown another human being and while the journey so far has hopefully been an amazing experience, now is the beginning of a whole new chapter in your story with new questions and new emotions.
This is postpartum. And once your baby is here, the real adventure begins. But don’t worry, this is not where our care and support for both you and your baby ends.
Whether you had an easy, quick delivery or labored successfully through long hours, your body has been through a lot. Allowing yourself time to recover, both physically and mentally, is so important to your whole health.
Your body took somewhere around nine months to develop and nourish your baby, and in that time, you were changing too — so try to be patient in realizing that recovery does not happen overnight. “Do your best to rest whenever possible, eat healthy and don’t push yourself before you’re ready. Listen to your body,” advises Dr. Mary Langenstroer, OB/GYN at AdventHealth Medical Group. Within six to eight weeks, you should start to feel recovered physically, depending on your delivery experience.
Around that six-week point (the exact timing varies by physician), most new moms who had a vaginal delivery will visit their doctor for a postpartum checkup. For moms who had a cesarean birth, your specialist will likely want to see you sooner, around two-weeks postpartum, to examine your incision. Depending on your physical exam, you may be asked to return a few weeks later. With so much going on in your new life, it’s important to keep this appointment in your schedule.
At your first postpartum visit, your doctor will make sure you’re healing physically and emotionally. The team of care specialists will check your blood pressure and ask about any discomfort you’re feeling. They’ll also ask if you’re having any issues breastfeeding, or issues with backaches, urinating and stitches, if applicable. Some other common physical discomforts that new moms discuss at their postpartum visit include abdominal pain, constipation, hemorrhoids, soreness and bleeding.
“It’s common to not feel like yourself right away after childbirth,” says Dr. Langenstroer. “If you’ve had a C-section, the restrictions about what you can and can’t do may be frustrating, but overexerting yourself will slow down the recovery process.” As a general rule, moms who had a C-section should avoid climbing stairs, driving or lifting anything heavier than your baby until you’ve been given the OK from your doctor. They’ll discuss this with you at your postpartum visits.
The emotional exam that your doctor will conduct is just as important as the physical exam. You’ll be asked if you’re experiencing baby blues, which means feeling tired, worried or sad after you’ve given birth. Usually, if you do experience these feelings, it’ll go away within a few days. If it doesn’t, it’s important to be honest with your doctor and discuss the possibility of postpartum depression.
Check in on Yourself
Postpartum depression can occur up to a year after you’ve given birth, so even after you’ve had your postpartum visits with your care team, continue to check in on yourself.
- Are you feeling isolated?
- Do you have feelings of sadness or worry that aren’t going away?
- Are you sleepless?
- Do you have a lack of motivation to care for yourself and your baby?
If the answer is “yes” to any of the above, schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor. The majority of women feel the onset of postpartum depression within the first four months after giving birth, and with all the new emotions you’re feeling, you may not know what’s ok and what isn’t.
Try not to be scared if you do develop postpartum depression, and know that it’s common, treatable and doesn’t make you a bad mom. This condition affects about one in ten moms, and as long as it’s recognized and treated, you will heal. A healthy, open and honest conversation with your care team can help begin treatment and start your path to emotional healing.
Resources for New Moms
At AdventHealth, new moms are equipped with the right tools to help you feel more confident in your parenting skills. Of course, there will be times that you feel overwhelmed, and that’s what we’re here for. It’s important to have a strong support team throughout your newborn journey, which is why we offer:
- Baby Place Academy app for parent education anytime, anywhere
- Lactation consultations for breastfeeding support
- Baby Bunch