We are yet to grasp that how we support ourselves to ensure good health through our ongoing postpartum period, requires just as much preparation that we would invest during pregnancy and that the health of us as mothers during the first 40 days of postpartum can determine our wellbeing for the next 40 years of life.
Throughout pregnancy, routine blood testing provides us with results to ensure we are in good health. If we have conceived through IVF, have experienced a loss or pregnancy complications (gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, platelet management etc), we may need to be even more attentive.
What is interesting is that once we have given birth, these standardised tests stop, however; this doesn't mean that postpartum blood work isn't also essential. Postpartum blood testing can provide us with vital insight into the wellness of our bodies after birth and throughout our postpartum recovery.
The desertion of postpartum testing can expose us to a variety of health risks and delay the treatment of chronic conditions. (The same can be said for other forms of standardised postpartum care which is usually concluded by 6-weeks postpartum). We usually arrive in postpartum in a state of depletion and before we can begin to feel well and strong again, we are immediately caring and providing for our newborns. (Particularly if we choose to breastfeed, our bodies will prioritise passing its nutrients through breast milk for our newborns to receive).
It is believed that the postpartum hormone drop is the most significant hormone shift experienced by a human being in the shortest amount of time. Many postpartum symptoms connected to this shift are common but we need to be aware of the severity and longevity of these as they may signal an underlying condition that needs attention:
Hormone imbalances, thyroid issues, vitamin deficiencies, anemia, (and more) can all contribute to the above symptoms and are able to be identified through bloodwork.
Postpartum Bloodwork options:
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)
Thyroid panel (including TSH and Free T4)
Diabetes (haemoglobin A1C), measures diabetes risk (HbAlc) and cholesterol.
Vitamin Deficiency (particularly Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and Folate)
Cortisol (tested between 7-9 am for accuracy)
*Hormones (including FSH, LH, estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone) are generally not ordered within the first year of birth due to natural hormonal fluctuations and whether you are breastfeeding.
It’s never too late to order bloodwork and gain insight into what’s happening in your body. Use your results to work with your maternal health care provider to help understand your symptoms and to ensure your postpartum heath and wellbeing is supported.