When is my first postpartum checkup?
For many moms, the 6-week postpartum checkup is the first one, but depending on your doctor and medical needs, your first postpartum checkup could be as soon as three weeks, or as late as 12 weeks. You may be asked to see your doctor earlier rather than later if you’ve had a cesarean delivery and/or any concerns.
What happens at a 6-week postpartum checkup?
Your doctor will check your vitals, including your blood pressure. Even if you didn’t have preeclampsia during pregnancy, it could develop during the postpartum period. While rare, it’s a serious condition that can cause high blood pressure and high protein levels in urine. Early identification and management can help avoid complications like seizures.
You may also have blood and urine tests, such as a blood sugar test if you’ve had gestational diabetes.
Your body went through a lot during pregnancy and labor, and your doctor will want to make sure you’re on the mend and not experiencing any complications.
If you had a C-section, episiotomy, or tear during birth, your doctor will check to see that everything is healing properly. They’ll also want to assess your overall health and recovery and may ask you if you’re experiencing any pain or having trouble breastfeeding.
Postpartum depression screening
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. That’s why your doctor may ask you how you’re feeling. It's not uncommon during the postpartum period to have what is known as the "baby blues" and feel a little sad and moody. The baby blues are temporary, but if your sadness is debilitating or lasts longer than two weeks, you could be experiencing postpartum depression. Be honest with your doctor about any negative emotions you may have, so that you can get the right kind of support as soon as possible.
Sex and birth control talk
At your appointment, your doctor will probably tell you when it’s safe to resume sex. They may also bring up contraception and ask about your future family plans. Many types of birth control are fine to use at this stage, even if you’re breastfeeding, but always check with your physician.
Exercise green light
Your doctor may give you the green light to start an exercise routine, which can help manage stress and get your body acclimated to not being pregnant again. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get back to normal right away–you went through nine months of pregnancy so it’s completely understandable if you don’t bounce back in one day, or even six weeks! That said, do feel empowered to ease yourself into exercise, whether you’re returning to a favorite routine or starting something new. It can go a long way in terms of your health and feeling like yourself again.
Preparing for your postpartum checkup
Bring your questions
If you’re like most new moms, you probably have a million questions about not only your baby but your body and health. While your doctor will likely cover a whirlwind of topics during your appointment, it’s helpful to bring your own list of questions as well. Whether you want info on birth control options or post-pregnancy nutrition, now’s a great time to get professional guidance. Don’t be afraid to ask what’s on your mind; your doctor is there to help you!
Ask about any concerns
Wondering if your bleeding is normal? Concerned about breast pain? Your postpartum appointment is the perfect opportunity to share any concerns with your doctor. They can answer your questions, help give you peace of mind, and address your concerns as needed.
More postpartum health resources
From health checks to valuable Q&A, your six-week postpartum checkup is time well-spent. Explore our Tips and Resources section for more postpartum articles and videos, including:
- The Postpartum Period: What You Need To Know About The First 6 Weeks After Childbirth
- What Are The Baby Blues and What You Can Do About Them
- Postpartum Health: How To Care For Yourself After Pregnancy
- Potential Postpartum Complications To Be Aware of