06.09.22 5 min read

Your Postpartum Care Checklist: A Guide for New Moms

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You focused on your pregnancy care for nine months, and made it through labor and delivery. 

Now, it’s time to continue caring for your body in the postpartum period: also known as the fourth trimester (but first, take this postpartum care plan quiz to find the right course of action for you.)

You’ll have at least one check-up with your OB/GYN in the first four to six weeks of giving birth, but the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also recommends checking in with your doctor multiple times in the first 12 weeks after your baby is born (1). 

However, there are other measures you can take to support your mental health, nutrition, lactation, and more in the weeks and months after having your baby.

Read on to learn more about postpartum care and the specialists available to you.

What postpartum care looks like

Though it’s a hectic time of making sure all your baby’s needs are met, there are so many aspects of your health to attend to after giving birth. 

First, you should prioritize your mental health: Around 70 to 80%  of new parents experience some kind of mood swings often known as “baby blues,” and 1 in 8 people experience what’s clinically known as postpartum depression (2,3). It’s possible to have symptoms of postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD too, all of which require adequate mental health care. 

In terms of physical health, 58% of people report difficulties with breastfeeding, for which more lactation support could be a solution (4). On top of that, there are other health concerns you might have that are easy to neglect. For example, it’s common to have pelvic floor distress, including pain from laceration or incontinence following birth (5). 

At Zaya, our network of postpartum specialists have the right expertise to tend to all of the above concerns, and then some. Here’s how they can help you during the weeks following labor. 

1 week postpartum

Immediately after giving birth, you could be noticing any combination of pain from vaginal tearing, postpartum bleeding, and difficulties with breastfeeding, including trouble with latching, milk supply, pain, and cracked nipples. 

Postpartum mental health concerns could be beginning to set in at this time too (more details on that below), but taking antidepressants is safe during breastfeeding (6).  In addition, the duration of breastfeeding could actually help your mental wellness, though this is easier said than done if you’re one of those 58% having difficulty breastfeeding (7). 

This is the ideal time to get extra support from a lactation consultant. You can schedule a virtual or in-person visit, where a lactation consultant can help answer your questions about breastfeeding and troubleshoot issues with milk supply, pain or infection, or latching. A lactation consultant can also provide advice on pumping and eventually returning to work, if you need. 

Find and book a lactation consultant.

2-4 weeks postpartum 

About two weeks after giving birth is the right time to thoroughly check in on your mental health. If you have signs of the baby blues, they will typically go away after about two weeks postpartum: Any other symptoms, like racing thoughts and anxiety, a feeling of persistent disconnect from your baby, or disinterest in seeing loved ones or doing things you enjoy could be signs of postpartum depression

If those signs come up, or even if they don’t and you’d like some support in order to talk through the challenges of becoming a parent, you have options. They include seeking out a mental health counselor or psychiatrist and support groups for new parents. Find and book care with a mental health therapist.

You might also be able to benefit from acupuncture, which a 2019 review found would not necessarily replace medication, but may help manage symptoms of postpartum depression (8). Find and book care with an acupuncturist.

4-6 weeks postpartum 

Following birth, about 25% of people experience pelvic floor disorders, such as overactive bladder and stress urinary incontinence (9). 

 In addition, this four to six week postpartum period is the time in which most medical professionals suggest that it’s safe to return to having sex, which could cause pain to the muscles of the pelvic floor, particularly if you’ve had tearing during delivery (10).

Working with a pelvic floor physical therapist could help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. The physical therapist can tailor the sessions to your concerns—sessions may involve hands-on work, but can also simply involve the physical therapist instructing you on a specific exercise regimen to work on at home. 

Find and book care with a pelvic floor physical therapist.

6-8 weeks postpartum 

Your own nutrition is crucial to your own health and to your baby’s, particularly if you’re breastfeeding. 

Checking in with a dietitian can help you make sure you’re eating the right foods for breastfeeding and continuing to get the vitamins you need for your and your baby’s nutrition. Meeting with a dietician can also be helpful to check in on postpartum weight management, if that’s a goal for you. 

Find and book care with a dietitian.


Looking for postpartum care beyond your OB/GYN? Find and book lactation consultants, dietitians, physical therapists, mental health therapists, acupuncturists, and more on Zaya. 


References 

  1. What to Expect at a Postpartum Checkup—And Why The Visit Maters. [Internet]. Washington DC: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (US); 2022-. Available from: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/the-latest/what-to-expect-at-a-postpartum-checkup-and-why-the-visit-matters
  2. Baby Blues. [Internet]. Irving (TX): American Pregnancy Association (US); 2021-. Available from: https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/first-year-of-life/baby-blues/.  
  3. Depression During and After Pregnancy. [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Preventi:on (US); 2022-. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/features/maternal-depression/index.html 
  4. Kent JC, Gardner H, Geddes DT. Breastmilk Production in the First 4 Weeks after Birth of Term Infants. Nutrients. 2016 Dec; 8(12): 756.
  5. Postpartum and Pelvic Floor Complications. [Internet]. Salt Lake City (UT): University of Utah Health (US); 2022-. Available from: https://healthcare.utah.edu/womenshealth/postpartum/pelvic-floor-disorders.php 
  6. Sriraman NK, Melvin K, Meltzer-Brody S, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. ABM clinical protocol# 18: use of antidepressants in breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding Medicine. 2015 Jul 1;10(6):290-9. Available from: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/bfm.2015.29002
  7. Dias CC, Figueiredo B. Breastfeeding and depression: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of affective disorders. 2015 Jan 15;171:142-54.
  8. Li W, Yin P, Lao L, Xu S. Effectiveness of acupuncture used for the management of postpartum depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BioMed research international. 2019 Mar 20;2019.
  9. Blomquist JL, Muñoz A, Carroll M, Handa VL. Association of Delivery Mode With Pelvic Floor Disorders After Childbirth. JAMA. 2018;320(23):2438–2447. 
  10. A Partner’s Guide to Pregnancy. [Internet]. Washington DC: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (US); 2020-. Available from: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/a-partners-guide-to-pregnancy#:~:text=When%20is%20it%20OK%20to,about%202%20weeks%20following%20birth