Bringing a new life into the world is an awe-inspiring experience. As a woman, your body has gone through remarkable changes during pregnancy and childbirth. Now that you’ve entered the beautiful world of motherhood, it’s important to prioritise your own health as well. In this article, we’ll explore when a woman should have her postpartum health check-up, because taking care of yourself is key to enabling you to be the best mum you can be!
The Initial Check-up: Within the Six Weeks
As you adjust to your new role as a mum, naturally you will be focussed on your baby’s needs and rightly so. However, it’s important to make time to look after yourself too. Now clearly this will depend on whether you have had a natural birth or a c-section. If you have had a natural birth, as the title alludes it’s advisable to schedule your first postpartum check-up within the first six weeks. This allows us to monitor your recovery and ensure everything is progressing as it should. We will often perform a diagnostic ultrasound scan to check your pelvic floor activation and to check for any signs of diastasis recti (separation of your abdominal muscles). We will also discuss any concerns or complications you have following the birth, as we are all too aware despite the best laid plans, it is often more complicated and traumatic than hoped.
If you had a c-section then the time frame is clearly different, as you will be very limited as to what you can do for the first three weeks, progressing to driving at six weeks. It is important to remember you have had major abdominal surgery so as tempting as it is, don’t overdo it! We would advise you to come in from when you are able to drive, so six weeks onwards. As well as going through all the above mentioned, we will also check your scar healing. Please have a look at Georgie’s information on Scar Massage by clicking here.
Fundamentally our focus is to get you back to doing all the things you loved doing before childbirth/pregnancy. Things like, the gym, running, hiking, or swimming. The aim of these appointments is to guide you to a gradual return to your pre-pregnancy physical activities without setbacks. It’s like having a personal trainer for your postpartum journey—guiding you every step of the way!
To understand the different elements of what we look at, I have gone into more detail about each of the key areas below.
The Pelvic Floor
So, what do we mean when we say check your pelvic floor or pelvic floor activation? The realities are that during pregnancy and childbirth, your pelvic floor muscles play a vital role in supporting your growing baby and facilitating the delivery process. However, these muscles can become weakened or stretched during this process, potentially leading to issues like urinary incontinence or discomfort. As part of our women’s health physiotherapy check-up, we will focus on pelvic floor rehabilitation, providing exercises and techniques to strengthen and regain control over these essential muscles. Fundamentally with the aim of getting you back to being you before pregnancy, think of it as a “power-up” for your pelvic region!
During pregnancy your abdominal muscles are stretched and therefore can separate, leading to a condition called diastasis recti — an abdominal separation that can affect core strength and stability. Fear not! Women’s health physiotherapy can help you reconnect those abdominal muscles. We will use our diagnostic ultrasound to assess the extent of the separation and then guide you through specific exercises and techniques to promote healing, regain muscle tone, and support your overall posture and back strength. We can then reassess using the diagnostic ultrasound after a six-week period, to monitor the healing process.
Six-Week Doctors Check-up
Around six weeks after giving birth, you’re also likely to have your six-week doctor’s check-up. Unfortunately, from my own experience, this is often not what you would expect. Largely the focus will be on your baby with very little assessment or attention paid to you as the mother. That is why we recommend a women’s health physiotherapy check-up.
While the above provides time frames for when we recommend women’s health physiotherapy check-ups, it’s important to trust your intuition and listen to your body. Every woman’s journey is unique, and you may have specific needs or concerns. If something feels off or if you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for guidance.