(Updated July 2008)
You have spent nine months preparing for your baby’s birth. You’ve probably read every book, article, and Web site to make sure you’re eating right, exercising at the appropriate level, and taking the necessary vitamins and supplements. Your effort has paid off…CONGRATULATIONS.
After giving birth, it’s important for you to keep up the healthy habits you practiced while you were pregnant. Your health care provider is your best resource for making sure you’re on track. To get ready for your six-week postpartum visit, review this planner and bring it with you to your check-up.
|DIET, NUTRITION, & EXERCISE||GOALS|
Returning to pre-pregnancy weight is a common goal. Combining a healthy diet with exercise will help you lose weight safely after delivery. Because dieting after pregnancy can decrease bone mineral density, it’s important to get enough calcium and do weightbearing activities.
|GOAL: Lose weight gradually— 4.5 lbs/month maximum after first month post-delivery (unless you had a high pre-pregnancy weight):
A well-balanced diet is essential for women before, during, and after pregnancy. Most multivitamins and prenatal vitamins don’t supply enough calcium. Also, breastfeeding mothers transfer 250-350 mg of calcium to their baby through breast milk when they’re nursing. Vitamin and mineral supplements can help ensure that you get the nutrients you need.
|GOAL: 1,000 mg of calcium daily for adult women (1,300 mg for adolescents):
GOAL: daily: 15 mg of iron daily
Regular physical activity after delivery should be a part of every new mother’s daily life. A gradual return to exercise is recommended. Some women may be able to start exercising within days of delivery; others may need to wait four to six weeks. Talk to your health care provider about what exercise schedule and level are right for you.
|GOAL: Strengthen the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles; reduce the risk of urinary stress incontinence (urine leakage):
GOAL: Keep bones strong; tone and shape your body:
|PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL AND SEXUAL NEEDS||GOALS|
Don’t be embarrassed to discuss with your health care provider all aspects of your physical health including important conditions that may result from delivery.
|GOAL: Thorough post post-delivery health exam:
Many women have emotional changes after delivery. Let your health care provider know if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, anxious, sad, isolated, nervous, obsessive, incompetent, exhausted, or you can’t sleep. Your health care provider can help you feel and cope better.
|GOAL: Good health and well well-being:
|Sexuality and Contraception
Lack of interest in sex is common after childbirth and for the first couple of months afterwards. Most women experience a gradual return to pre-pregnancy levels of sexual desire, enjoyment, and frequency within a year of giving birth, but every woman has her own timetable. The return to fertility is unpredictable. You may be able to get pregnant before your periods return, even when you’re breastfeeding. For most women who aren’t nursing, ovulation occurs about 45 days postpartum, but it can be earlier. Discuss family planning with your health care provider.
|GOAL: Healthy sexuality:
GOAL: Post-delivery contraception:
About Audrey Kelly, PharmD