3 Things I Wish My Doc Told Me at My 6 Week Check Up
Oh, the 6 to 8 week check up. The golden standard of doctor’s visits postpartum. The oh-so-blissful experience of showing up at the doctor’s office just weeks after our life has been turned upside down and our OBGYN gives us the once over, give us a rushed (and often incomplete) overview of what to expect of our post baby bodies then send us on our way. If you’re like me, you left that first 6 week check up a little lost and more than a little discouraged.
But, 4 births, and 4 rounds of 6 week check ups later, I’ve come to realize there are SO many things I wish my doctor had taken the time to tell me at that initial 6 week check up. Here are 3:
- It’s ok not to be ready for sex. While it’s often true that the physical scars of labor have healed and the sutures are gone, the physical exertion and exhaustion of new parenting don’t necessarily leave a new mom (or dad) ready to have sex just 6 weeks after giving birth. That’s ok. New research suggests it actually takes almost a full year for women to fully recover from pregnancy and childbirth. So if you’re not ready, you don’t have to be. Take your time, and communicate with your partner that your body needs to recover from more than just stretch marks and stitches.
- Your body after baby is fine just as it is. A healthy nutritious diet is essential to getting breastfeeding off to on right start. Yet, many moms feel extreme pressure to drastically reduce calories in hopes of getting back their pre-baby body as soon as possible. You don’t have to get caught up in the madness. Repeat after me: your body is beautiful just as it is. Self care isn’t restricting calories and working out until you pass out. It’s taking moments to rest, it’s eating enough that you can have the energy you need to get through the day as a mom AND provide your baby with liquid gold goodness, and it’s self acceptance and love for the body you already have, no self deprivation required.
- Your breasts shouldn’t still hurt. As a new mom, I thought I’d just have to get my breasts calloused enough to withstand the extremely painful sensation I experienced every time my daughter latched in the early weeks of breastfeeding her. When I asked my OB about it at my 6 week appointment, she didn’t take much notice. Instead, she told me it was normal to experience slight discomfort. Hearing this, I figured I must just be particularly sensitive. And, I went on nursing my daughter through the excruciating pain for several more months before discovering that actually, it wasn’t me: she had a lip tie. If you’re experiencing pain in the early weeks of breastfeeding, know: it’s not normal. Not ever. So insist that you physician refer you to a lactation consultant or a pediatrician who specializes in latch issues. Latch issues can lead to low milk supply, and much MORE than mild discomfort for mom and baby (in my case, they led to several rounds of Mastitis in addition to painful, painful nursing sessions.) If breastfeeding is excruciating, trust your gut, and get help.
Doctors, if you’re reading, take note. In my case, my OB was an amazing, amazing support during my pregnancy and birth experience, fighting to make sure my (and baby’s) needs were met. I know she cared about me. Still, some of this slipped through the cracks because there’s just so much to learn and know as a new mom.