Postpartum Visit: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results

Definition & Overview

The postpartum period, usually the first six weeks after delivery, is critical in the mother’s physical and mental health. After nine months of carrying the baby inside her belly and undergoing physical and mental changes, and then going through the stress of delivery, returning to a non-pregnant state can be demanding. There’s also the additional pressure of looking after the newly born child.

Women are prone to various disorders during this period, such as postpartum depression and infections, especially if they required a vaginal incision or a C-section to help them deliver the baby. Therefore, doctors recommend that the mother undergo a postpartum visit or consultation 4-6 weeks after delivery.

The purpose of the consultation is to assess the mother’s physical and mental condition to see how she is coping with the situation. Doctors will also help the mother establish a weight loss goal and advise her on achieving an ideal weight through proper nutrition and exercise.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results?

A recently given birth woman must undergo a postpartum visit, even when she feels that she is doing fine and is not displaying any particular signs of mental fatigue or depression. In some cases, a woman may not show any visible symptoms or may deny having any symptoms at all. If her condition is not identified, there’s a possibility of worsening and becoming more difficult to treat later on.

A postpartum visit can last anywhere between 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the doctor’s findings. If the doctor believes the mother will require further diagnosis or treatment, she will likely be asked to return for a follow-up consultation or be referred to a specialist.

How Does the Procedure Work?

Most postpartum visits begin with a short interview. The doctor will ask a few questions, such as how the mother is doing and feeling any symptoms. The purpose of the discussion is to identify any possible problems with the mother’s physical health and gauge her mental state. Doctors will be able to identify any mental fatigue and prescribe medications or provide advice on how she can deal with her condition without any medicines.

The doctor will then perform a physical exam. If the mother underwent an episiotomy during delivery, the incision would be checked to make sure that it is healing correctly. Patients delivered via C-section would typically undergo a medical checkup two weeks after delivery, but the doctor will also inspect the wound during a postpartum visit.

The physical exam will also include a pelvic exam to ensure that the uterus, cervix, and ovaries usually return to the pre-pregnancy state. The doctor will check for any signs of infections or request that the mother undergoes a pap smear if signs of abnormalities are present.

Doctors will also usually perform a breast exam during the postpartum visit. The breasts undergo a series of changes during pregnancy and after delivery. If the doctor discovers any abnormal changes, further tests will be requested so that the condition can be treated as early as possible.

The mother’s mental health is just as important as her physical health, which is why the doctor will check for any signs of depression. Suppose the doctor feels that the mother could be displaying signs of depression. In that case, she will likely need to be referred to specialists in postpartum depression or be asked to obtain the services of postpartum helpers, such as baby nurses. In some cases, the mother may simply be feeling overwhelmed by the situation, and a little help with the baby is all she needs.

Suppose the doctor does not discover any physical or mental abnormalities during the postpartum visit. In that case, the mother will be given the all-clear sign to return to normal daily activities, including exercises and sexual activities.

Possible Complications and Risks

A postpartum visit usually does not present any complications or risks, unless the doctor discovers any physical or mental abnormalities that will require further diagnosis and treatment. In this case, the complications and risks will be related to the actual exam or treatment regimen.

It’s essential to inform the doctor of any problems you may be experiencing during the postpartum visit, including issues at home that may be causing additional physical, mental, or emotional stress. No matter how small it may appear, any problem can affect a mother’s state of mind during the postpartum period. The doctor may be able to help with the problem or refer you to specialists who will provide sound advice on how to deal with your situation.

The most common postpartum problems that women experience during this period are:

• Infections include incision and kidney infections

• Swollen breasts

• Clogged ducts

• Vaginal discharge

• Hair loss

• Stretch marks

• Incontinence

• Discomfort during sex

• Reduced sex drive

• Postpartum hemorrhage resulting in excessive bleeding

If you experience any of the above problems, make sure that you inform your doctor during the postpartum visit. However, if the condition worsens and affects your daily activities, seek immediate medical attention.

You should also seek help if you begin to display signs of depression, which include intense feelings of sadness or if you’re having thoughts of suicide. Other symptoms of depression include no longer caring about your daily activities, friends, or responsibilities. You should seek immediate help if you have feelings of animosity towards the baby or other family members.

References:

• American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2010). Screening for depression during and after pregnancy. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 453. Washington, DC: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
• American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2008, reaffirmed 2009). Use of psychiatric medications during pregnancy and lactation. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 92. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 111(4): 1001-1020.

New Mom Must Have Items

In addition to filing your freezer with nutritional meals, lining up pet sitters, and daily help from family, friends, and/or professional postpartum experts, you’ll need to stock up on supplies to have on hand upon your discharge from your birthing facility. Below are a dozen comfort suggestions to help you prepare for an easier postpartum time and a speedy recovery for both surgical and vaginal deliveries.

NEW MOM MUST HAVE ITEMS:

We have NOT included affiliate links for any of the suggested items below. We are sharing these links just to be helpful!

After care items for a vaginal birth:

  1. Epifoam — If you receive stitches on your perineum,you’ll likely receive a numbing spray called Epifoam while in the hospital. If you need more after your return home, ask your doctor if Dermaplast ( over the counter) is an acceptable alternative.
  2. Sitz Baths — This plastic tub is placed directly on the toilet rim (seat up) and you sit on it as it circulates warm water on your bottom via a tube connected to a bag you fill from the sink. This helps clean your bottom, may encourage urination, and will help with healing. Many women find it very comforting. Follow this with an ice pack! (Insert sigh of relief!) Your hospital may offer you a sitz bath or you can find this at your local pharmacy.
  3. Peri-Bottle — Following the birth of your baby, you will be given a small plastic bottle filled with warm water. Use it to squirt on your bottom as much as necessary to help encourage urination and dilute the sting caused from urine. Once your bladder is empty, squirt your bottom again gently with as much water as necessary to help clean your bottom. Then PAT your bottom dry with hospital wash cloths or toilet paper. Take your bottle home with you or buy a few to keep in each of your bathrooms.

For both type of deliveries:

  1. Doughnut-Shaped Pillow or Wedge — (V-shaped) cushion
    Called coccydynia or coccygodynia, tailbone pain usually goes away on its own within a few weeks or months after childbirth. To lessen pain while sitting, use a doughnut-shaped pillow or wedge(V-shaped) cushion. Try a dollar store pool tube.
  2. Witch Hazel or Tuck’s Pads — Found at your local pharmacy, witch hazel is an over the counter astringent, which can be used to help shrink hemorrhoids. Most commercial bottles of witch hazel contain alcohol so it may sting with direct application. TJ Dickinson’s is a brand that sells pure witch hazel. It may take you some time to locate TJ’s unless you shop at Whole Foods. (You may want to try the wipes, Tuck’s pads, or Preparation H.) If using the liquid, you can make a”padcicle” by soaking a pad with witch hazel and placing it in a clean Ziploc bag then freezing it. Once frozen, remove it and wear it as normal. Many women find this very comforting for their swollen, sore bottoms – especially after a vaginal delivery.
  3. Senokot — A gentle vegetable-based laxative called Senokot may be offered to you at the hospital. You can also find it over the counter at your local pharmacy. It is generally well-tolerated (doesn’t cause intestinal cramping) and takes effect within about 12 hours, so it’s usually taken in the evening.
  4. AquaPhor Healing Ointment — Aquaphor Healing Ointment protects the skin to enhance the natural healing process and help prevent external irritants from reaching the wound. You can find this at most Drug Stores

 

 

Pregnancy & Newborns

 

Dr. Mughelli and his staff are committed to providing pregnant mothers “personal” care from conception, through childbirth, to post partum follow-up. He understands each pregnancy is special and unique. Mothers with a history of miscarriages, hypertension, diabetes, toxemia, STD’s, or may be concerned with such conditions as vaginal birth after ceasaren, or premature labor, can rest assured they are in experienced hands with Dr. Mughelli. These are just some of the many complications associated with childbirth that Dr. Mughelli has successfully managed in his over 30 years in practice.

By “personal” care Dr. Mughelli is referring to the level of care he extends to all his patients. From FREE pregnany tests, to a FREE initial OB visit for uninsured patients, Dr. Mughelli and his staff demonstrate their understanding of the sensitive and often stressful conditions facing the expectant mother.

Please contact us with any questions. We look forward to exceeding your expectations.