After my daughter was born, I had what I think is a pretty common postpartum experience: my OB came back the day after her birth to check on me and make sure everything was okay (and sign off on my early discharge), and I had an office visit at 6 weeks postpartum to make sure everything was healing okay and be ‘cleared’ to resume normal activities again.
It was fine. But my experience after my son’s birth was quite a bit different. Every OB or midwife probably does the postpartum visits a little bit differently. Today I want to share what I experienced with my son’s birth. And if you’ve ever been curious how a baby born at home gets a birth certificate I’ll tell you that too!
First hour: We were left alone to bond with our new baby while the midwives were downstairs, filling out paperwork. After this, they came upstairs to perform the newborn exam while I went to get cleaned up (my husband stayed with our son). They weighed and measured him, checked the placenta and cord, and examined him physically. They also cut his cord at this time.
One day postpartum: One of the midwives came back to check on both me and my son. They asked questions about how he was nursing and if he’d had any meconium yet, and took a look at his cord stump. They also checked me to see if my uterus was shrinking properly, and asked me about my bleeding. I was to fill out a chart where I took my temperature a few times a day, noted when I used the bathroom, what I ate, and a few other things. They used this chart and the physical examination to determine if there was any sign that something was wrong (and probably would have sent me to the hospital if so). I was to keep filling this out for at least a week.
Three days postpartum: A midwife returned to check on me and my son again, performing the same physical examination, looking at my chart, etc. They also brought me a paper that was signed by their office, stating that I had been pregnant and I had had a live birth. We only needed a nurse to sign off on it at this point after my son had his PKU test.
Four days postpartum: The visiting nurse showed up to check on my son and do his PKU test. (He hadn’t had vit K.) She warned me he might bleed a lot and take awhile to clot…but he didn’t. She had to squeeze his heel pretty hard to even get enough blood for the test, and he immediately stopped bleeding. She pronounced him healthy and signed the paper. We also took him to his newborn visit at the pediatrician this day, and she examined him, talked me about how he was nursing and such, and also pronounced him healthy.
One week postpartum: We *should* have taken the signed paper down to the health department (it needs to be done within 10 days of the birth). When we turned this paper in, they submitted it to the system and then sent us a birth certificate. They also submitted him for a social security number, and his card showed up in the mail a couple weeks later. Because we forgot to do this until he was just over two weeks old, we had to have one additional paper signed by someone else who stated that he had, in fact, been born alive to me. My mom signed this paper and we turned it in with the other papers.
Two weeks postpartum: We went for a half hour office visit at the midwives. They checked my chart and performed a brief physical examination, talked to me a little about how my son was nursing, and weighed him. They also discussed postpartum depression with both me and my husband (asking him if he’d seen any worrying signs).
Four weeks postpartum: Another half hour office visit, basically the same as the two-week visit. We talked a little, they checked us over.
Six weeks postpartum: We had an hour-long office visit, where they did a “final” check up on us, and also de-constructed the birth. How had it gone? Had it been different than I’d thought? Was there anything I wish had gone differently? I reported at this visit that towards the end of my labor, when everyone had been sure what was going on, I was actually in transition. And now we know, for the future, what’s “normal” for me. This was really helpful to talk through. We were “officially” done at this point!
So our postpartum experience was quite extensive! We had a lot of physical and emotional support throughout this time. I felt like my midwives were very cautious and on top of things, and wouldn’t have hesitated to refer me at any point, had something not looked right. Luckily I healed even faster than expected and generally felt great, so there was no need for concern.
What was your postpartum experience like?