Caring for a newborn is time-consuming, and some items on your to-do list may need to wait. But doctor’s visits — for both mom and baby — shouldn’t be postponed.
Even healthy infants need regular checkups to ensure they stay healthy and hit developmental milestones. It’s also important to develop a good relationship with your pediatrician, who can keep close tabs on your baby’s progress.
Your newborn isn’t the only one who needs medical attention. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends a new-mom checkup within the first six weeks of giving birth. Yet up to 40% of women skip this important health screening.
Here’s what to expect at the pediatrician’s office and your postpartum visit:
While your baby will receive a thorough newborn check-up before leaving the hospital, your pediatrician will want to see your baby on a regular basis during the first year. Some doctors’ schedules vary slightly, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends evaluation within 48 to 72 hours after leaving the hospital and again at one month, two months, four months, six months, nine months and one year.
At each visit, the pediatrician will measure your baby’s length, weight and head circumference to ensure he or she is growing properly and eating enough. Your baby will get a full physical exam — including ears, eyes, mouth, skin, heart, lungs, abdomen, hips and legs, genitalia, and the fontanels (or soft spots) on the baby’s head.
The pediatrician will also observe your child’s actions and reactions, and ask you questions to determine whether your baby is hitting age-appropriate developmental milestones, such as rolling over or crawling. In later visits, the doctor might ask about the baby’s behavior to rule out behavioral problems.
Your baby will also receive potentially life-saving immunizations at most visits.
Having a baby? Learn more about what to expect during maternity.*
After nine months of prenatal care, a hospital stay, and six weeks of sleepless nights, you might be tempted to skip the postpartum appointment. But your OBGYN or midwife needs to ensure you’re healing well and staying healthy.
The good news is that this visit counts as your annual exam, so going now will save you time later in the year.
During your postpartum checkup, your doctor will:
- Check your incision. If you had an episiotomy or tear during a vaginal delivery, the doctor will examine the area to ensure you’re healing and showing no signs of infection. If you had a cesarean section, the doctor will probably want to check your incision at two weeks and again at your six-week appointment.
- Perform a pelvic exam to make sure your uterus, ovaries and cervix are returning to their pre-pregnancy state. The doctor will also check your uterus for signs of infection. If you’re due for a pap smear, that will be performed now.
- Examine your breasts for blocked milk ducts, which can lead to an infection called mastitis. Since this visit counts as your annual exam, your doctor will also feel for lumps or masses.
- Assess your general health. The doctor will check your weight and blood pressure. If you had gestational diabetes, you may need a glucose tolerance test to ensure your insulin levels have returned to normal.
- Discuss postpartum concerns, including breastfeeding, contraception and your mental health. You may undergo a screening for postpartum depression.
Both your doctor and pediatrician will have long lists of topics to discuss at these appointments. Be sure to jot down any questions you have in advance so you’ll remember to ask.