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What to Ask at Your Postpartum Checkup

Your six-week check-in is the perfect time to make sure your body is getting back to normal. It's also a great time to get answers to key questions:

What are my birth control options? They depend on whether you're breastfeeding, planning to have another child (and how soon), or have any chronic health problems.

When will I get my period again? Moms who nurse may get their first period as soon as six months postpartum but often later, says Hal C. Lawrence, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. Women who don't breastfeed usually get theirs between six and eight weeks after delivering, and it's often heavy. Either way, it's not unusual to notice some spotting. If it's excessive, mention it to your doctor; your body's probably just taking longer to heal.

How long will it take me to lose my baby weight? While some (very) lucky women can zip up their pre-pregnancy jeans at this point, it takes most moms three to six months. Your doctor can guide you, especially if you're breastfeeding (and can't cut too many calories) or had a c-section (some activities are off-limits until you're fully healed).

What happened to my sex drive? Disinterest in lovemaking's not uncommon, yet few new moms mention it, says Johanna Abernathy, M.D., an ob-gyn in Cedar Rapids, IA. Exhaustion isn't sexy, and nursing can lower estrogen levels (and libido) and cause vaginal dryness. Your doctor can't do much about interrupted sleep or hormones, but she can probably suggest a lubricant.

When will my breasts get back to normal? If you're nursing and your breasts are still tender or painful, your doctor can suggest remedies. If you're not, any traces of milk should have disappeared by now, though the size and shape of your breasts may be permanently altered.

How can I deal with leakage problems? Urinary incontinence isn't uncommon and tends to go away by 12 weeks after delivery, says Dr. Lawrence. Meanwhile your M.D. can suggest exercises, like Kegels, to speed your recovery.

When will I feel like myself again? Having a baby is a big deal; it's normal to experience some emotional aftershocks. But if you have intrusive thoughts about harming yourself or your baby, can't concentrate, or have frequent crying jags or difficulty getting to sleep or eating, you could have postpartum depression, which affects up to 20 percent of new moms. Talk to your doctor, who can get you the help you need.

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