Your Six Week Postpartum Check Up

Doctor talking to woman in examination room.

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About six weeks after giving birth you will visit your doctor or midwife for a check-up. You will have a pelvic exam, breast exam and a physical review of your Cesarean scar if you gave birth by C-section. This is typically your last visit with your OB or midwife unless you are having complications. (If you had earlier complications you may have seen your practitioner earlier than this visit.)

Your Physical Exam

You will have a complete physical. Your practitioner will check your vagina and, perineum and do a pap smear and breast exam. You may also have other testing as needed, including blood work to screen for anemia. Be sure to ask about any pains or soreness you are still experiencing. Ask your doctor or midwife when you can have sex again.

Discuss Birth Control Options

You may be surprised to learn that you can, in fact, become pregnant even while you are breastfeeding. Your doctor will want to discuss your birth control options. Breastfeeding may alter your options so be sure to talk to them about your breastfeeding status. For example, you may be limited in which hormonal methods of birth control are better for you and your milk supply. Common options include:

  • Birth control pills
  • Diaphragm
  • Injectable birth control
  • Condoms
  • Intrauterine Devices (IUD)

Alternatively, if you are eager to become pregnant again relatively soon, now is a good time to ask whether you should wait for a particular period before your next pregnancy. Your body is still recovering, so it is usually a good idea to wait for at least a few months before trying for another baby.

Review Your Labor and Birth

This is also your chance to talk about your labor and delivery. You can clarify what happened or ask questions about what happened if you aren't sure or didn't understand at the time. You may also want to ask for a copy of your medical record. (Your hospital will have a separate record.)

You can ask your practitioner's opinion on how your most recent birth will affect your options for future pregnancies and births. For example, if you had a Cesarean, you might want to ask whether you have a vaginal birth next time (very often, the answer is yes).

Mental Health Check

While some providers forget to ask about your mental health, a good screening for postpartum depression is important. If your provider doesn't say anything, be sure to bring up your questions and concerns. Postpartum depression can be a serious problem, and while it has received more attention in recent years, many women are still uncomfortable bringing up negative feelings around what is supposed to be a positive experience.

Say Goodbye

Even if it's only until your next annual exam, the end of your prenatal care can be weird. After all, you've spent a lot of time in the office since you first found out that you were pregnant. Be sure to bring your baby to show them off to the staff, but have someone to help with baby during your visit. Some offices have a birth announcement wall, bring yours to add if you'd like.

In 2018, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists changed their recommendation for "fourth trimester" postnatal care. Rather than end at 6 weeks, postnatal health care should continue as needed. 

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  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Delivery. Published December 2017.

  3. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 736: Optimizing Postpartum Care. Obstet Gynecol. 2018;131(5):e140-e150. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000002633