There is so much change at birth. A new baby, a seemingly deflated body, emotions, sleeping patterns, responsibilities...
What happens at a 6 week appointment?
Typically, it takes 6 weeks for a woman's cervix to return to fully closed. What may take hours, days, or weeks to open, does not return like a springy rubber band. Care providers are concerned about bacteria, infection, and healing. At 6 weeks postpartum, they perform an exam and see if it is safe to use things like tampons, and have penetrative sex.
That question comes up a lot...when can I have sex after I have a baby? But that is another blog post for another day...
During the transition phase of labor, a woman is reaching the point where she is as open as her body can be. Her cervix is dilated to 10 cms. She may be vocalizing and her voice is open and round. Her pupils may be dilated, and her blood is pumping through her veins and arteries in response to contractions that are getting longer, stronger, and closer together.
Her body literally makes space for passage. Her cervix slides to the sides and graciously ushers a baby down to meet his or her new world.
After you! Oh please...go right ahead. They are expecting you!
It makes so much sense, when you think of openness, that rules, boundaries, and plans, don't really fit there. Think of some often used phrases:
Welcome with open arms.
I am open to anything.
Keeping options open.
Walking in with eyes wide open.
In transition, when a woman is physically open, do not be surprised if plans get thrown aside. If words she's never said come out of her mouth. If emotions are all over her face and she seems unlike the woman who walked into the hospital, you're right. She is changing right before your eyes.
But what is fascinating to me and I never tire of hearing about it, is the openness that continues once a family returns home.
A woman is learning about her new body. She is adapting to the needs of her child. Her family is learning about the new person that is now a Mother.
Feelings are bigger for a while.
New skills are being learned.
New needs are being anticipated and most of all, a New Normal is in its infancy.
6 weeks will be both an eternity of moments and then vanish in an instant.
There may be questions that can't wait until that 6 week appointment. There may be needs that can't be met by the arranged support you had before delivering.
There may be times when the openness can feel too open and a woman needs help to close again. To be surrounded again by support and kindness. To be cared for with love and assurance. To be given help for things she isn't yet ready to take on again.
All this to say, there are people who are trained to help in this period, and indeed longer, if a family needs it. As your postpartum doula, I am available to support the closing just as I am able to support the opening.
Authored by A Swift Doula