Your postpartum Doctors appointment is your stepping stone to getting back into exercise but it is also a valuable chance to ask questions and query anything that doesn’t feel quite right. With the exception of a few stretch marks, there are very few things that should be a permanent result of pregnancy and childbirth.
If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t! You are the expert on your own body so you know if something is wrong. Have the confidence to voice your concerns and if you don’t feel they are being addresses, ask for a referral or a second opinion. You only get one body and now that you’re a mother, your good health and function is not only essential to your well being, but also your child’s.
When you have your Postpartum Doctors Appointment check will vary hugely depending on a number of factors. If you have had no complications it will take place 6 – 8 weeks post delivery. If you have had a C-Section, or suffered some complications, it will generally take place after 10 – 12 weeks.
It is worth noting that most fitness professional and organisations will have required you to have completed this check and gained your doctor’s approval before returning to exercise.
Postpartum Doctors Appointment
What you are asked and how you are examined will vary hugely from doctor to doctor. Some prefer to give thorough, hands on examination of your abdominal muscles to asses any degree of separation, while others will base theirs around questions about how you feel. This is your chance to explore any concerns.
It is a really good idea to go to your appointment with a pre planned list of questions to ask (one about your baby and one for yourself). Doctors are undisputedly clever and a wealth of knowledge, but they are not mind readers! They are very unlikely to know if something is amiss from just looking at you, unless you tell them!
Here are a few key issues you should consider raising if you have suspicion they might apply to you:
1. Stress Incontinence:
This is when you leak (either urine or faeces) when your abdominal cavity is placed under pressure. This could be as little as a tiny dribble when you cough or sneeze to a full blown leak when you perform tasks as mundane as standing up from sitting or picking up your child’s car seat. Stress incontinence is a very common result of pregnancy and labour but that does not mean it should be an accepted consequence of it.
Having a baby does not mean you should endure the worry of not being able to do everyday tasks and functions with the constant fear and embarrassment of wetting or soiling yourself. There are so many ways this can be addresses from prescribed exercise to surgery. DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE! There are some scary statistics about women’s reluctance to seek help.
It is estimated that 32% of women in the UK suffer from stress incontinence but even scarier is the fact it takes an average of nearly 7 years for women to do something about it! If you’re finding yourself wondering into the Tena Lady aisle at the super market, it’s time to get some help!
2. Abdominal Muscle Separation:
If you have any concerns about this, ask for a physical examination. It is non invasive and can be done through your cloths. It involved the doctor asking you to lie on your back and under instruction, raising your head and shoulders while they feel across your midsection. They will start under your bra line and move down to your bikini line.
One big indicator that you might need to get this checked is if you notice any ‘doming’ on your tummy as you look at it when getting up from lying on your back. Separated tummy muscles can lead to all sorts of postural issues such as back, pelvic and knee pain as well as issues around stress incontinence, so it is important to get this checked if you have any doubts.
If you do suffer from this, it can usually be dramatically improved through appropriate exercise but in extreme cases, surgery may be required.
If you have any concerns AT ALL about any stitches in your nether region, ask for a physical exam. Do they ache, itch or feel tight? Is sex (should you have been brave enough to climb that mountain – excuse the pun) painful? At Your Postpartum Doctors Appointment, your doctor might just ask you if everything is alright and be keen to move on but this is your chance to find out if it is all healing properly.
Forget the embarrassment of having yet another person fiddling around down there – you’ve just had a baby – dignity is already a distant memory! If you address any issues now, when you get back to exercising, you could find your progress is compromised. Getting it sorted now should save trouble in the long term.
4. C-Section Scar
If you have had a C-section your scar will be examined at your Postpartum Doctors Appointment. If you are suffering from any aching or numbness around the incision, talk to your Doctor. Although common, this should not need to be blindly endured in the long run. It can take 6 months to a year for the incision site to heal fully and mature and you that area may always feel different but if you are concerned about it, ask your doc.
Finally, your post delivery Postpartum Doctors Appointment check is usually a combined appointment for you and your baby. It is easy to focus all your attention on your concerns about your little one but please bear in mind that this is also your chance to get yourself back on the ladder of exercise, good health and well being. Go prepared, ask questions and get answers (and permission to exercise!).