Postpartum Care

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Introduction to Postpartum Care

Postpartum care is just as important as prenatal care; it represents a significant part of mother and baby’s health and well-being. The postpartum period, which occurs in the months following childbirth, is a crucial phase that requires careful attention and support.

These initial weeks after your baby arrives involve balancing many new routines and responsibilities. At the same time, you’ll be healing from childbirth and navigating the physical and psychological changes or concerns that arise during the postpartum period.

After Childbirth Follow-up

Regular follow-up appointments with your OB/GYN play an important role in your postpartum care, recovery, and overall health and safety. These checkups are scheduled in the weeks after childbirth and monitor your physical recovery and emotional well-being.

Timeline for Postpartum Care Checkups

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends scheduling several appointments with your OB/GYN provider within the first 12 weeks after childbirth:

  • First checkup: Within three weeks
    • This first visit serves as a check-in with the OB/GYN regarding your physical recovery and overall health, and allows for asking questions and addressing concerns.
    • Note: Patients with high blood pressure during pregnancy should be seen within the first three to 10 days after childbirth.
  • Additional visits: Scheduled as needed
    • Your provider will recommend follow-up appointments based on your unique health care needs.
  • Final checkup: 12 weeks
    • This visit ensures you have made a full recovery and can address future needs.

Common Postpartum Complications

The postpartum period can involve potential health complications, and it’s important to have regular medical assessments to ensure you are on track for a healthy recovery after giving birth.

Potential postpartum complications may include:

  • Vaginal soreness
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Constipation
  • Cramps or contractions
  • Cesarean incision healing issues

Postpartum hemorrhage occurs in about 3% of U.S. pregnancies and increased from 2000 to 2019, according to a 2023 study. Excessive bleeding is typically caused by delayed contraction of the uterus or placenta that remains in the uterus.

You may be at risk of postpartum hemorrhage if you carried more than one baby, had an especially long labor, delivered by cesarean section, have a blood clotting disorder or had postpartum hemorrhage previously.

Signs and symptoms of a postpartum hemorrhage:

  • Racing heart
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Pelvic or vaginal pain
  • Excessive bleeding

You should remain in contact with your provider, schedule regular and timely postpartum follow-up appointments and seek immediate medical attention when necessary.

Primary Care Provider for Continued Health Management

Prioritizing ongoing health management is crucial, especially for preexisting conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. A primary care provider can play a vital role in improving overall health and continuity of care. Ideally, individuals should establish a relationship with a primary care provider before pregnancy and continue seeing them postpartum. If you don’t have a primary care provider or is considering a new one, your OB/GYN can connect you.

Other Postpartum Maternal Health Topics to Discuss With Your Provider

  • Nutrition during postpartum and breastfeeding
  • Mood disorders
  • Overall breastfeeding support
  • Strategies for managing sleep deprivation
  • Caring for your newborn
  • Postpartum contraception and family planning
  • Resuming sexual activity after childbirth

Embrace Your Postpartum Journey

The postpartum period can be a transformative, challenging and rewarding time. Although it is necessary care for your infant, it is also important to remember to take care of yourself and prioritize your own physical recovery and mental well-being.

Postpartum care requires a balance of many responsibilities, including regular checkups with your baby’s pediatrician as well as your own health care provider to help ensure a healthy recovery. Seek support from your personal support network and health care provider during this time.

Regular postpartum care checkups at Norton Women’s Care will provide you with plenty of time to ask questions, monitor your physical and emotional recovery, address any concerns and receive the support you need — and deserve.

What to Expect from Norton Women’s Care

More mothers in Louisville and Southern Indiana choose to deliver their babies at Norton Hospital or Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital than with any other hospital system in the area.

We deliver more than 8,000 babies a year. We’re close to you with more than 90 providers at more than 25 locations around Louisville and Southern Indiana. Choosing Norton Women’s Care gives you many options for how delivery day could go — all with the confidence of knowing that our obstetrics and pediatric specialists are there to help. With Norton Women’s Care, you’ll find:

  • The birth experience you want: You can choose natural childbirth, a midwife, labor tub, nitrous oxide and other birthing options. We’ll recommend a C-section (cesarean section) or induced labor only if it’s medically necessary.
  • Preparation: Our specialists offer the support you need, including free Lamaze and other childbirth classesnew parent classesbreastfeeding supportchild safety classes and more.
  • Confidence and quality in care: Norton Women’s Care has been recognized as High Performing — the highest rating available — for maternity care with fewer complications and C-sections, plus breastfeeding support and other benefits.
  • We offer the highest-level (Level IV) neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Louisville and Southern Indiana at Norton Children’s Hospital, and a sophisticated Level III NICU at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
  • Around-the-clock OB/GYN care is available at Norton Hospital and Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital emergency departments.
  • Our board-certified maternal-fetal medicine specialists  can help guide you through a high-risk pregnancy, from treating preexisting diabetes in the pregnant patient to a fetal echocardiogram to diagnose a congenital heart condition before a baby is born.
  • Medicare, Medicaid and most major commercial insurance plans are accepted.
  • Convenient access to your medical record: Communicate with your health care provider, get lab results, renew prescriptions and more through your free Norton MyChart account.

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