After so many visits with your OB or midwife throughout pregnancy (12-14 visits on average), after giving birth most patients in the US will only see their provider one more time at their postpartum followup. This visit may be the last of your pregnancy, but for many parents the postpartum phase is still in full swing. There is often a lot on your mind…
- Is it normal to feel this tired?
- Feeding is stressful. I’m worried about weight gain?
- Is it ok to get back to exercise?
- I miss my old self
And yet, the visit is often short. With so much to talk about, how do you maximize your time with your provider? Here are a few strategies to make the most out of your appointment and walk away confident and informed instead of frustrated and confused.
Manage your own expectations
- Your postpartum visit is 15 minutes. Really. Truly. Unfortunately.
- Some medical schools are even teaching providers now to guide the visit by stating that fact right from the start. But it can be pretty awkward, so most don’t address it. A simple way for you to overcome this barrier is by saying, “I know we only have 15 minutes, so I would really like to focus on A, B, and C today.” This takes the pressure off, and they may end up spending extra time with you, because on some level they are grateful that you are cognizant of their time too.
Know Your Questions/Frustrations/Confusions. Prepare them ahead of time.
- Providers love it when a patient pulls out their phone and says, “so I wrote down some questions.” It helps guide the visit towards your priorities and inevitably, if you don’t write it down then you will remember it the second you get to your car.
- If you don’t know what your questions should be, or you are so sleep deprived at this point it’s hard to even form full sentences, then use a tool like Partum Health’s postpartum follow-up visit guide.
- If you are at a loss, or you’re reading this in the lobby of your OBGYN office before your visit, it’s okay. An easy way to get the ball rolling is to say, “I don’t really know what my questions should be today.” And/or, “What are the most common questions parents ask you at these visits?” That will definitely help your provider focus on the most important information and soothe your mind about all the other unnecessary fluff.
- Make sure you have your provider’s nurse line and/or emergency line. Ask the staff before you leave, “What kind of things should I call the emergency line for? What questions should be saved for regular business hours? And what should I call my pediatrician for instead?” No provider likes to be woken up at 2AM for an “Emergency Call” about hair loss, pharmacy changes for prescriptions, or constipation.
Give Yourself Time and Grace
Everything takes longer with a baby.
- Plan to leave your house 15 to 20 minutes earlier than you typically would to get to your appointment on time.
- Have your provider’s office number saved in your phone so you can call and let them know if you are running late. We understand, it happens.
- Plan to be there for a hour. Insane, I know. But your provider may run late seeing other patients or be in surgery. Bring some water and a snack in case you are in the waiting room or an exam room for longer than you would like.
- Wear whatever is comfortable because your provider doesn’t care. . . and we know whatever cute outfit you had picked out probably got baby’s bodily fluids on it the second you put it on.
- Plan a way to treat yourself after your visit. That may mean eating the emergency chocolate in your glove box, getting your toes done, or just watching a trashy reality show on Netflix, but you deserve it. Again for the people in the back, YOU DESERVE IT.
About the Author: Adrienn Myers-Woods is a Board Certified Women's Health Nurse Practitioner in Chicago. She has experience in Infertility, Family Planning, and basic Obstetrics & Gynecology. She enjoys great coffee, her sweet pug-mix Josie, and high quality patient education.
Adrienn Myers-Woods is a Board Certified Women's Health Nurse Practitioner in Chicago. She has experience in Infertility, Family Planning, and basic Obstetrics & Gynecology. She enjoys great coffee, her sweet pug-mix Josie, and high quality patient education.