After a cesarean delivery, it is important for mothers to have follow up care after discharge from the hospital. Because a cesarean section is a surgical procedure, their care needs differ from those of mothers who deliver vaginally. Prior to leaving the hospital, your nurses will remind you to schedule a postpartum check-up with your doctor. This visit should occur within two to four weeks of an uncomplicated cesarean birth. It is very important to keep your appointment so that any problems are detected and promptly addressed. This check-up is to make sure your incision is healing well, and to assess your overall health.
At the first postpartum visit, your doctor will:
- Check to make sure your uterus is returning to its normal size
- Assess the healing of your incision
- Discuss pain management
- Discuss birth control options
- Screen for postpartum depression
- Ask how well you are adjusting to the many new changes in your life
- Ask about your support system as you recover and while caring for your baby
- Address any breastfeeding challenges
- Discuss ongoing management of any other health conditions (i.e. high blood pressure, thyroid problems).
During the visit, your doctor will do a pelvic and breast exam. Your incision will be checked for any signs of infection, and to make sure it is healing properly. Your blood pressure and weight will be recorded as well. If there was a significant blood loss during the surgery, your doctor may order blood tests.
Depending on your health status, your doctor will determine the frequency of follow up visits. For example, if your blood pressure is high, you may be asked to come in for blood pressure checks every few days until it has improved or is better controlled with medication. If you develop a wound infection, you may need a follow up visit after completing a course of antibiotics. For most women, however, the next visit will occur within one to three months.
Your first postpartum visit is a good time to ask questions. It is a good idea to prepare a question list to bring with you to the appointment. Here are some commonly asked questions:
• Has my incision healed as expected?
• Can I try a vaginal birth next time?
• How can I get relief from my hemorrhoids, varicose veins, or incisional pain?
• What is the best type of birth control for me?
• When can I drive?
• When can I go back to work?
If you frequently feel sad or “down,” are unsure about which method of birth control to choose, or have difficulty caring for your newborn, discuss these concerns with your doctor.
Try to make the most of your first postpartum visit. If possible, as your partner, a family member, or a baby-sitter take care of your baby during this visit. By doing so, you won’t feel “rushed,” and receive answers to all of your questions. It may also be nice to bring a picture of your beautiful new baby for your doctor can keep.
More About Self Care After Cesarean Birth
Introduction to Self-care After Cesarean Birth
Preventive Self Care
Physical Changes and Healing
Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)
Activities and Healthy Exercise
Nutrition and Diet
Family Planning and Birth Control
Normal “Baby Blues” or Postpartum Depression
Your Postpartum Check-Up
Get as Much Rest as You Can
When to Call Your Doctor