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Quick Reference Guide for Clinicians
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Postpartum Counseling

(Updated July 2013)

Using This Guide

This Quick Reference Guide for Clinicians is designed to assist health care providers in counseling women in the postpartum period. It addresses three important areas of concern to these patients:

  • Diet, nutrition, and exercise
  • Postpartum mental health
  • Sexuality and contraception

Each section includes a list of counseling points that providers can use as a guide when talking with patients, as well as a review of related health issues.

Comprehensive screening and assessment should be performed first. This evaluation identifies individual patients’ needs and concerns and informs appropriate counseling. Key elements in postpartum screening and assessment appear in the box below.

This guide focuses on the postpartum follow-up visit—typically scheduled four to six weeks after delivery—for women who have had an uncomplicated pregnancy and a vaginal delivery. Much of this information is relevant to other women in the postpartum period as well, including those who have had cesarean deliveries. Women who experienced obstetrical complications or other health problems will need counseling on topics that are not covered here.

Health care providers have an important role in counseling their postpartum patients on the issues presented in this guide, but time and opportunity are often limited. The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) hopes this guide provides a brief, easy-to-use resource to facilitate addressing these issues during an important period of change and adjustment.