With all of the changes and challenges that come with pregnancy, prenatal care gets a lot of attention. Postnatal care, unfortunately, can often get lost in the excitement – and exhaustion – of parenthood.
“We don’t focus enough on postnatal or postpartum care yet,” says Erin Bane, certified nurse midwife at Windham Hospital.
The goal of prenatal care is to ensure that both the pregnant person and fetus are receiving the proper attention they need prior to delivery. This includes a series of visits, assessments, labs and ultrasound imaging to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
Once the baby is born, their care will be guided by a pediatrician – but for parents, both physical and mental healthcare might slip through the cracks.
“The transition to new parenthood or a new child can be full of emotions – both good and not-so-good, and a lot of people have questions about what’s going on with their feelings and their bodies,” Bane notes.
Typically, postnatal care is limited to one visit at six weeks. But at Windham Hospital, nurses follow up a couple days after discharge to check in and answer any questions that a patient may have. Mothers who had a C-section will have a visit at two weeks to check and clean the incision.
“At six weeks, you have a physical and mood check. I check your heart and lungs, check in about bleeding and pain, whether you have incontinence or constipation. If you had any kind of repair, I might take a look at that, and then check in on how you’re doing with motherhood,” says Bane.
Bane offers some pre and postnatal care tips, including:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Maintain a healthy and nutritious diet.
- Stay hydrated – pregnant and breastfeeding moms should be drinking at least three liters of water each day.
- Listen to your body.
- Call your doctor with any questions or concerns.
- Stay active.
- Keep your information packet, and remember to reference it.
“A lot of people who have given birth can benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy, and counselors are available if you’re having mood changes. I’m here to help with medications in the postpartum period, and I can prescribe medication for postpartum mood disorders for up to one year,” Bane said.
For those expecting a baby, there are parenting and childbirth classes that can help you prepare for birth, but make sure to check in with your provider before jumping in.