It’s common to wonder what will happen at your first postpartum doctor’s appointment, especially after a loss. There are the physical elements of healing after a stillbirth or surgical procedure which I’m sure your doctor reviewed with you prior to the event happening. However, along with the physical part is the emotional roller coaster which can in fact affect your physical healing. And more often than not the emotional healing will take much longer than the physical healing.
What can you expect at your first postpartum check? To put it bluntly, most of the office staff and nurses will not know that you are grieving a loss, be prepared for the waiting room to be full of pregnant women and a receptionist who may or may not know why you’re there. You can ask to be taken back to a room and wait versus sitting in the waiting room. You’ll have the privacy you need should unexpected emotions hit you.
As part of the overall exam your blood pressure and weight will be checked and you may have to leave a urine sample. Your doctor will check your uterus and stitch dressing if you needed stitches. This part will be uncomfortable physically as well as emotionally. For the most part the physical exam is over and the doctor should review your family building plans. If you have a compassionate doctor who is aware of your situation then they may ask the following, if not be prepared to ask them yourself (or your partner).
- Is it or when is it safe for us to actively try to conceive?
- Do we need a specialist to further investigate the reason for our loss?
- How long with the pain/discomfort/bleeding last?
- What abnormalities in my healing should I look for?
Personally speaking, I wish my doctor had addressed my emotional needs more. I needed her to stop treating my baby and loss like a medical situation. I would have liked a list of therapists or support groups in the area. My physical healing was minimal and short lived, however my emotional healing took much longer than I expected. Although she addressed my medical concerns and needs, the emotion and compassion was lacking. If you’re able to bring your partner or a support person I highly recommend that. My husband was there to support me and ask questions I didn’t think of on the spot.
My best advice is: be prepared for a flood of emotions and go armed with support and a list of everything you may be wondering or needing to know about moving on after your loss. Your needs matter!
Photo credit: adapted from Dr.Farouk | Flickr