What Happens At Six Weeks Postpartum Checkup And Its Importance

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Once your baby arrives, you may feel overwhelmed with the new changes. But it is still important to care for your body, and that is where postpartum checkup becomes essential. The 6-week postpartum checkup is one of the essential checkups after the baby’s birth and is especially important if you had a C-section, normal delivery or certain issues during delivery. Postpartum visits to your doctor also help you know the progress of your recovery and healing.

Read on to learn more about the details and important points before planning your sixth-week postpartum checkup.

Why Do You Need a Sixth-Week Postpartum Checkup?

Women are advised to get checked at four to six weeks after childbirth. This is particularly important after cesarean, normal or complicated delivery to evaluate the psychological health, physical health, and recovery status of the new mother (1). This is also when your doctor may assess your baby to make sure they are doing fine. Other important aspects to discuss with your doctor are breastfeeding, contraception, and pre-planning for the next pregnancy.

Women need to be constantly monitored, and postpartum care should be a continuing process tailored to the woman’s needs. Furthermore, if you had complications or chronic health conditions in pregnancy or while giving birth, your doctor might want to see you within two to three weeks of delivery (2).

How To Prepare For Your Postpartum Checkups?

Discuss your postpartum care plan with your doctor and the postpartum care team (including friends and family) before delivery, which will help you prepare better. Note the following important points before your six-week checkup (3) (4).

  • Maintain prompt communication with your obstetric care providers to ensure you are assessed on time.
  • Your care team must also be aware of your ongoing health conditions to plan comprehensive postpartum visits.
  • Have a booked appointment for consulting your doctor at your planned postpartum visit time.
  • You may consider taking a separate appointment with your doctor to assess your baby thoroughly.
  • Make sure you carry all the necessary documents, such as the discharge summary and your and your baby’s medical records.
  • List down all the questions to ask your healthcare provider on the visit. A few important questions include getting back to exercise routine, breastfeeding, contraceptive methods, dealing with postpartum pains, nutrition, medicines and other health issues.

What Happens At The Sixth-Week Postpartum Checkup?

The postpartum assessments during a six-week visit may not be similar in every case and depend on the woman’s health status, time allotted, and the doctor’s recommendations. However, some common areas that are expected to be covered during the checkup include the following (3) (4) (5):

  • History and physical exam: The postpartum checkup might begin with your doctor asking you about your labor and any possible complications you might have had in pregnancy or during delivery. Your provider may perform a vitals check if you had problems during pregnancy or immediately after the birth.
  • Incision care and physical recovery: Your doctor may offer to examine your incisional region to check the healing process if you had stitches while delivering. Additionally, your doctor may ask you a few questions regarding bleeding after delivery, urinary discomforts, bowel movements, and back pain.

    Your doctor may examine your incisional region

    Image: Shutterstock

  • Blood and other tests: Your doctor may recommend you to undergo certain blood tests to rule out anemia, thyroid disorders, and diabetes. This is essential if the mother had any of these conditions during pregnancy. Additional tests such as pap tests and complete blood count may be advised based on your health status.
  • Feeding your baby: The doctor will inquire about breastfeeding your baby. You may take the support of the lactation team if you have any trouble establishing breastfeeding or any associated pain.

    The doctor will inquire about breastfeeding your baby

    Image: iStock

  • Pelvic examination: The doctor may perform an internal pelvic exam to check for uterus size, signs of infection, vaginal discharge, or abdominal pain. These tests are suggested based on your health status and whether you have symptoms of any problem.
  • Mental health assessment: Your primary care provider may ask how you are coping with motherhood, mood swings, and emotional changes after delivery. This might help them identify any risks of mental health disorders such as anxiety, stress, and postpartum depression.
  • Sex and birth control methods: This visit is also a good time to discuss resuming sex and other physical activities. Your doctor may inquire about future pregnancies and birth control options.

    You may discuss birth control methods with your doctor

    Image: Shutterstock

  • Immunizations: You must make sure your vaccinations are up to date. Your doctor might review your vaccination history and suggest getting a Tdap or flu shot if needed.
  • Management of other health conditions: If you have had any medical condition during or after pregnancy, such as diabetes or sleep disorders, your doctor may recommend management options to reduce the long-term effects.

What Are The Other Things To Discuss With Your Doctor?

During a sixth-week postpartum check, report to your doctor if you are concerned about any of the following issues (6) (7).

  • Excessive bleeding or vaginal discomfort: Inform your doctor if you have vaginal swelling, foul-smelling discharge, or constant bleeding that lasts for two weeks or longer.
  • Feeding difficulties: You may take the support of a certified lactation consultant who can help you with breastfeeding difficulties and establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship with your baby.
  • Pain in the abdomen: Tell your doctor if you have any pain in your pelvic or abdomen region, especially if you have had a cesarean procedure.
  • Urinary incontinence: Any pain, discomfort during urination, or trouble holding urine must be reported to the doctor as it may indicate a possible urinary tract infection.
  • Emotional disturbances: If you feel sad, anxious, sleepless, or have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, you must seek immediate medical care as these signs may be of a mental health disorder, like postnatal depression.

    Your doctor may help with emotional disturbances

    Image: iStock

  • Excessive fatigue, dizziness, or headaches: These symptoms might be common after delivery due to hormonal changes. However, long-lasting tiredness and headaches must be evaluated to rule out other medical conditions.
  • Pre-existing health conditions: The sixth-week checkup is ideal to discuss your pregnancy and postpartum health problems with your doctor to prevent further complications. If you had blood pressure disorders, gestational diabetes, or preterm labor, you might be at increased risk of cardiovascular disorders (8).
  • Resuming physical activities: Your sixth-week postpartum checkup is the right time to discuss with your healthcare provider the types of normal activities and exercises suitable for you after delivery.
  • Nutrition and weight management: A right diet and appropriate BMI are essential for a woman after delivery. Hence, it is important to discuss the diet and multivitamins to be taken postpartum to help maintain good health and facilitate breastfeeding.

    Take your doctor's advice about the right diet and BMI

    Image: Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is the sixth-week postpartum checkup painful?

Though the postpartum checkup may cause some discomfort, it usually isn’t painful. However, some women might have pain after delivery that may persist until six weeks postpartum (4).

2. Can I bring my baby for a sixth-week postpartum checkup?

You may bring your baby during your checkup, but it is better to book a separate appointment to make sure your baby is well-examined by the doctor (9).

3. What happens if I miss my sixth-week postpartum checkup?

If you miss your sixth-week check, make sure to book an appointment with your doctor at the earliest or plan for an in-house nurse visit or web-based consultation (10).

4. Am I fully healed six weeks postpartum?

Most women feel recovered after 6-8 weeks of childbirth. However, some women may take longer to recover (11).

5. How much weight would I lose six weeks postpartum?

Most women lose half their pregnancy weight by six weeks after childbirth (12). The uterus will weigh two ounces; it was around 2.5 pounds immediately after birth (13).

6. What should my belly look like six weeks postpartum?

After the first six weeks of childbirth, your pregnancy belly would shrink back to its regular size to a pre-pregnancy state. You may have afterbirth pains because of continuous uterine shrinkage (13).

7. What are the two common changes in the first six weeks postpartum?

During the first six weeks postpartum, you will see changes in your breasts due to milk production. You will also notice changes in body size as it tries to readjust itself to the pre-pregnancy state (13).

The six-week postpartum check provides an opportunity for you to talk to your doctor about anything that is of concern to you. You can make a list of questions you want to discuss with your doctor so that nothing slips out of your mind and there is a timely resolution of any issue. Altogether, having a thorough postnatal check and getting all your queries answered will help facilitate healthy and safe motherhood.

Infographic: Concerns That Shouldn’t Wait Until Postpartum Checkup

Childbirth leads to some discomfort in every mother. Usually, such discomforts are noted and treated during the sixth-week postpartum health checkup. However, a few mothers experience distress that might indicate an underlying problem. These signs should not be ignored until the postpartum health checkup and must be brought to a doctor’s immediate attention.

Here is an infographic listing the concerning signs noticed after childbirth.

when should you not wait six weeks [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • The sixth-week postpartum check is essential to assess your recovery post-delivery.
  • A physical exam, incision check, and assessment of your vitals are some of the checks done during this visit.
  • You may book an appointment for your baby as well so that the doctor also checks them.
  • If you missed your sixth-week postpartum check, you can schedule an appointment the moment you remember it.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Michael C. Lu, et al., (2015); The postpartum visit: Risk factors for nonuse and association with breast-feeding.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4353609/
  2. ACOG Redesigns Postpartum Care.
    https://www.acog.org/news/news-releases/2018/04/acog-redesigns-postpartum-care
  3. Optimizing Postpartum Care.
    https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2018/05/optimizing-postpartum-care
  4. The postpartum visit. Why wait 6 weeks?
    https://www.racgp.org.au/getattachment/66ebbe98-756e-42fd-b7d1-656aff649d0f/attachment.aspx
  5. Your 6-week postnatal check.
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/support-and-services/your-6-week-postnatal-check/
  6. The ‘fourth trimester’: Why women need health care after delivery?
    https://utswmed.org/medblog/fourth-trimester-primary-care/
  7. A Guide for Your 6-week Postpartum Checkup.
    https://www.mass.gov/doc/a-guide-for-your-6-week-postpartum-checkup/download
  8. The Importance Of The Postpartum Checkup.
    https://www.marchofdimes.org/it-starts-with-mom/the-importance-of-the-postpartum-checkup.aspx
  9. What happens at your 6-week checkup?
    https://www.nct.org.uk/life-parent/your-body-after-birth/what-happens-your-6-week-check
  10. Valery A. Danilack, et al.,(2020); Characteristics of women without a postpartum checkup among PRAMS participants, 2009–2011.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6555651/
  11. Recovering from Delivery (Postpartum Recovery).
    https://familydoctor.org/recovering-from-delivery/
  12. Losing weight after pregnancy.
    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000586.htm
  13. Your Body After Baby: The First 6 Weeks.
    https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/your-body-after-baby-the-first-6-weeks.aspx
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Vidya Tadapatri

Vidya did her post-graduation in Biotechnology from Osmania University, Hyderabad. Her interest in scientific research and writing made her pursue a career in writing, in which she now has over four years of experience. She has done certified biotechnology-related training programs under renowned organizations such as Centre For Cellular & Molecular Biology and Department of Biotechnology. Vidya writes health-based articles...
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Dr. Anita Gupta

(MS)
Dr Anita Gupta is currently working in University College of Medical Sciences (Medical School) & Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Delhi. She has been practicing as a gynecologist & obstetrician for the past 31 years and as a lactation consultant for 18 years. Dr. Gupta is a fellow of Indian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and a master trainer and course...
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