Checking in on Your Body and Mind

Photo by Austin Wade on Unsplash

“Mothers and babies form an inseparable biological and social unit; the health and nutrition of one group cannot be divorced from the health and nutrition of the other.”

The World Health Organization

What to Expect From Your “Six Week” Follow Up

Six week after giving birth, we find that most WellNested families are looking for some comfort and support in their new parenting journey. Unfortunately, for many in this postpartum stage, the six week check up with your OB is not always the best source for this. Traditionally, the six week check up is approached as a “clearing” to return to your pre pregnancy life. For some, this feels right. If you are feeling good in your body, having no pain or physical issues, are interested in sex, and want to exercise, then your doctor’s clearance can be welcome news. However, many, many people we meet do not feel anywhere near ready or interested in those things—and that is absolutely also ok. You do not need to feel pressured to return to activities you don’t feel ready for. 

During this check up, you can expect your OB to :

  • Perform a pelvic exam where he or she will check that your uterus is shrinking down, a process that often takes two months
  • Look at healing of C-Section scar or episiotomy laceration if either of these procedures were performed during delivery
  • Discuss your birth control options 
  • Perform a mental health screening, specifically looking for postpartum anxiety or depression

Topics To Discuss With Your Doctor

Remember that it’s ok to feel “not ok” right now. Most new mothers do not feel like their old selves six weeks — or even six months — after having a baby. After all, you are developing into a “new” version of yourself. You’re on a journey in which you become a mother and parent, and not everything clicks right away. Try to be kind to yourself if you don’t quite feel the way you used to. Caring for yourself, physically and mentally, is critical during the postpartum period. 

Physically, you may not be feeling great, even six week after delivery. While six weeks is a time when you are beginning to physically heal, you should not expect to be back to your pre pregnancy physical state. Your uterus is still shrinking back down to pre pregnancy size, relaxing is still leaving your body, and your hormones, particularly if you are breastfeeding, are still in flux. You’re probably not sleeping very well and your eating may be sporadic.

If you’re struggling with how you look or feel six week postpartum, try to keep in mind that you just had a baby. Weight gain during pregnancy is normal and healthy, and while some people seem like they lose all the “baby weight” right away, for most people it does take a while. That said, if there is anything that feels concerning or out of the ordinary to you, it is a good idea to bring that up with your doctor. In addition, if you are experiences any of the issues below, it is advisable to talk with your doctor about them:

  • Incontinence or leaking urine 
  • Sudden weight gain 
  • Regular bleeding that has not subsided or lessened
  • Prolapse or protruding of your pelvic floor from your vagina
  • Recurring hemorrhoids 
  • Trouble urinating or passing stool
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Increased anxiety or low dips in mood

When To Seek Mental Health Support

We often hear new moms say, “I don’t feel like myself” or express feeling overwhelmed. Some range of this is, of course, normal. Recovering from pregnancy and childbirth while taking care of a new baby is really hard! We find that many new parents do benefit from seeking additional help and resources whether that is a therapist or coping/support groups for new parents or simply asking for help from friends or family. 

A WellNested provider can also help with things like newborn education, feeding support, light housework and meal prep, and even sibling support.

That said, there are times when seeking a mental health professional is more crucial. 15% of new mothers experience a form of postpartum depression and if you are having any of the thoughts or symptoms listed below, it is so important to seek professional support. 

  • Feeling sad most of the day
  • Excessive crying a lot
  • Extreme loss of appetite
  • Feeling disconnected or disinterested from your baby
  • Deep feelings of guilt
  • Fear that you are a bad or unfit mother
  • Excessive fear of hurting yourself or your baby

One of the most serious signs of postpartum depression is thinking about or attempting to hurt yourself or your baby. If you are thinking of harming yourself or your baby tell your partner immediately and call 911 or your local emergency room or reach out to The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

INFOGRAPHIC: Expectations vs. Reality

Expectation

1 – Every minute with your new baby is filled with joy.

2 – Breastfeeding is natural and easy.

3 – You will go back to your pre-pregnancy self within six week of giving birth.

4 – There is a certain way to be a mom or parent in order to be successful

5 – If your baby is fussy or hardly sleeping, you are doing something wrong


Reality


1 – There is joy … there is also stress, exhaustion, loss and frustration.

2 – Yes, breastfeeding is natural. It is not always easy and, especially at the beginning, requires patience and perseverance. It gets more enjoyable as time goes on.

3 – Having a baby changes you, physically emotionally and mentally. You are becoming a new version of yourself

4 – You are the right parent for your child.

5 – Every baby is different and fussiness and sleep deprivation are difficult struggles. If your baby is fussy, it doesn’t make them a “bad” baby and it doesn’t mean you’re not doing a great job.

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