After childbirth, you are offered a follow-up with your midwife at the post-natal clinic. A suitable time is usually 8-12 weeks after you gave birth. If yours was a complicated delivery or a Caesarean, you'll usually see a doctor too.
This is when you, or both of you if you have a partner with you, get the chance to talk about everything you've been through. Together with your midwife, you (both) can go through everything that happened during the delivery. You can talk about your experiences, ask questions and possibly see your medical records. It's important to get to talk about what has happened.
Perhaps your delivery was entirely free from complications, but most women still need to go back to the sequence of events, again and again. Before you even leave maternity, you usually get the chance to talk to the midwife who delivered your baby and go through what happened and ask any questions you may have. These are called post-partum discussions.
Having a baby - an experience that changes your life for ever
Having a baby is a powerful experience that will affect you for the rest of your life. Most women feel better after putting feelings like expectation, happiness, strength and relief into words. And of course negative feelings they have experienced too, like worry and fear, disappointment and sometimes grief. Having the opportunity to put all those feelings that were brought up during childbirth into words is a good thing.
Going through your own delivery records
It's also important to resolve uncertainties with the help of your records, get help understanding and have the opportunity to ask questions. If nothing else, it can feel like a strength to have done it before another potential pregnancy and before giving birth again. For obvious reasons, the follow-up discussion also looks at how things have been since the birth. You've been through a huge change in your life, in the short time since coming home from the maternity ward.
Follow-ups and examinations
At your follow up, your cervix is examined to make sure it has healed and that everything is functioning normally again. The matter of contraceptives is brought up too. In addition to condoms, a breast-feeding woman can take the mini pill these days. They only contain one hormone, progestogen, and do not affect your milk production or your baby.
Or you could choose an IUS (hormone coil), an IUD (copper coil) or a contraceptive injection. You'll have to wait until you've stopped breastfeeding, if you are, before you can use the combination pill, patch or vaginal ring, which contain oestrogen. LAM. The Lactational Amenorrhea Method, LAM, could also be a good alternative for the first six months.
Life with your new baby starts now
For most people, the follow-up usually feels like a kind of closure after the long pregnancy and delivery, with all of the preparations and thoughts that come with them. Receiving confirmation of what you have experienced, both emotionally and physically, can be important. Now it's done, you've made it through the big event. A new life with your baby and a family starts now.