As a new parent, you may feel your world revolves around your baby. But it’s important to care for yourself, too. Through Baby Steps—UPMC Health Plan’s maternity program—you have access to a health coach at no cost to you. The Baby Steps health coach can help you with after pregnancy care.
You can make your journey healthier and happier by following these tips:
Get your postpartum checkup.
The American College of Gynecology recommends having this appointment four to six weeks after the baby is born. It gives your health care provider a chance to see how you are doing. Are you healing properly? Are you feeling sad or having trouble adjusting to life with a newborn? Are you eating well and drinking enough water?
During your checkup, you can get support and resources to help you stay healthy—for your baby and yourself. Our Baby Steps health coaches can help you schedule the appointment and decide on the topics you want to discuss with your health care provider.
Here is what you can expect at your checkup:
- You'll have a physical exam, during which your health care provider will check your blood pressure, weight, breasts, and abdomen.1
- You'll have a pelvic exam, during which your health care provider will check your vagina (birth canal), uterus (womb), and cervix to make sure they’re healthy. If you had an episiotomy (a cut made at the opening of the vagina to help let the baby out) or a tear during birth, the health care provider will check to see if has healed.1
- Your health care provider may ask about your current mental/emotional state. Being a parent is a life-changing experience. This is the time to bring up any feelings of sadness or worry that have lasted since giving birth. If they are serious enough, you could have postpartum depression (also called PPD). PPD is nothing to feel ashamed of, and it can be treated. You and your health care provider can discuss options that may help you feel better. Even if your health care provider does not ask about your mental/emotional state, be sure to bring up any concerns that you may have.
- You may need to get recommended vaccinations if you did not receive them before or during your pregnancy. This will help you and your baby stay as healthy as possible. Ask your health care provider about the following vaccines:
Your health care provider may recommend other vaccines depending your travel history, health conditions, or other factors.
- Flu (influenza)
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
- Chickenpox (varicella)
- Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)2
- You can get help to manage a chronic illness. For example, you may have developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy. If so, your health care provider may give you a blood glucose test to check your blood sugar1 has returned to normal and make sure you are as healthy as possible.
Think about whether you plan to have more children.
Now is a good time to talk with your health care provider about how you may be able to plan ahead for a healthy future pregnancy. This is true even if having another baby is not the first thing on your mind right now.
Remember, you may be able to get pregnant before your periods return—even while you’re breastfeeding. For most individuals who aren’t nursing, ovulation occurs about 45 days after their baby’s birth. But it can happen sooner.
Consider birth spacing or planning on how long you should wait to have your next child. There are benefits to waiting at least 18 months before having your next child. Knowing whether you do or don't want to have children in the next few years can help you and your partner plan for conception or choose appropriate birth control.
Choose a birth control option that is right for you.
Before deciding on a birth control method, discuss the pros and cons of each with your health care provider. Some common options are:
- Hormonal methods include the birth control pill (“the pill”), skin patches, and vaginal rings.
- IUDs (intrauterine devices) include copper and hormonal options. Your health care provider will need to place the IUD in your uterus. Some individuals choose to have an IUD implanted right after they deliver their baby. With this option, they do not need to schedule an additional procedure and already have contraception in place. IUDs typically last three to five years but can be removed any time. Talk to you health care provider about the best option for you.
- Barrier methods include condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and sponges.
- Natural family planning is tracking the time of month when your body releases an egg (ovulation). Avoid sexual intercourse during the fertility cycle or use a barrier method for protection during this time.
- Permanent birth control is also known as sterilization. These procedures are available for both individuals and include a vasectomy to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg or tubal ligation or "getting your tubes tied.
- Emergency contraception (EC) is known as “the morning after pill.” Plan B One-Step® is one type. EC is used when other birth control methods fail. For example, you might use EC if the condom breaks, or you forget to use your birth control.3
Get help breastfeeding.
Our Baby Steps health coaches can help answer your questions and provide resources. Some of our health coaches are certified breastfeeding counselors, allowing them to help you if you want to breastfeed.
Our Baby Steps health coaches can also help make referrals to resources such as breastfeeding support classes, which are offered at UPMC facilities.
Neonatal Intensive Care Services Support
Neonatal Intensive Care Services Support is available for families during and after a NICU stay.
It can be overwhelming when your baby is in an NICU. We can help. Our NICU care managers are specially trained to support you during this time.
If you need help understanding your child’s medical condition, planning for your child’s discharge, or handling health insurance issues, our NICU care managers can help.
This support is available at no cost through the UPMC Health Plan NICU Care Management Program. You can use this program at no cost throughout your baby's first year.
Learn more about the UPMC Health Plan NICU Care Management Program and all the ways a care manager can help you.
Healthy First Steps Program
In addition to the Baby Steps program, UPMC Health Plan offers a Healthy First Steps Program that provides ongoing support, guidance, and education to parents with children from birth to 3 years old. Health coaches follow up with parents after birth and every 2 to 3 months thereafter until 36 months old. To participate in Healthy First Steps, contact a health coach at 1-866-778-6073 (TTY: 711). Coaches are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Life after pregnancy can be tiring and stressful, but we have you covered. Your health care provider and our Baby Steps health coaches will work with you to help you feel your best. That way, you can focus on the best parts of parenthood.
Contact a Baby Steps Health Coach Today!