When women have children, they tend to put their own health on the back burner. How can you focus on your own health when you have a little one that’s totally dependent on you? But you have to remember that your little one will be dependent on you for years to come. So, we must remain as healthy as possible so we can spend as much time with our children as possible. As a mom, you need to make sure you’re updated with your doctor’s appointments! This is so we be sure our bodies are healthy and fight off warning signs as early as possible.
1. Annual Physical Examination
People, not just a mom, are highly encouraged to get annual doctor’s appointments to get their physical exams. There are several stages to this—vital signs, general appearance, heart and lungs, head and neck, and abdomen.
Vital signs measure your body’s blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, and more. General appearance looks at your skin, spine alignment, and cognitive functions like memory. Heart and lung exams use a stethoscope to see if your heart is beating rhythmically and your lungs are clear. Head and neck exams involve checking the nose, ears, throat, lymph nodes, and other things in the area. Finally, abdominal exams feel your liver, the tenderness of the abdomen, and the presence of abdominal fluid.
2. Bloodwork and Thyroid Panel
Bloodwork is a standard part of doctor’s appointments for a mom, but you should be more thorough and do some extra bloodwork. Blood sugar levels and thyroid health are two things you need to always keep in mind.
It’s important to examine your blood sugar levels to see if you’re resistant to insulin. You need to make lifestyle changes right away if the results show you’re prediabetic. It’ll prevent diabetes from being too much of a problem.
Meanwhile, measuring TSH, free T4, free T3, and antibodies in a thyroid panel is important to combat thyroid disease. As the thyroid is responsible for your metabolism, having an unhealthy thyroid will eventually lead to problems in the rest of your body.
3. Pelvic Exam and Pap Smear
To detect cervical cancers early, pelvic exams and pap smears are your friends. Just bear the discomfort—having peace of mind is much better than an hour or so with your gynecologist. Medical professionals cannot stress enough how important preventative cancer screening is against cervical cancer!
In pelvic exams, the doctor inserts two fingers up the cervix while pressing on the abdomen. Then, they’ll start feeling around your cervix, vagina, uterus, and other reachable places. In a pap smear, a doctor inserts a device into your cervix to open it a little. Then, the doctor reaches in with a swab and collects samples all around your cervix.
4. Breast Exam and Mammogram
One of the earliest symptoms of breast cancer is lumps, cysts, discharges, and other unusual activity in the breast. In a breast exam, the doctor will be feeling all over your breast to see if everything is okay. You can also do a breast exam on yourself while showering if you want to be more thorough—some minor pushes all over will do the trick.
After you’re 40 (or younger if you have a family history of breast cancer), you should start getting mammograms. You don’t have to do this yearly—every two to three years will suffice. This is a more thorough examination that can diagnose breast cancer.
5. Skin Check
Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer among Americans? Did you know that more women suffer from skin cancer than men? Did you know that climate change is a big contributor to skin cancer?
For this reason, we must start monitoring our skin as early as 21. Here, doctors will be noting existing moles and unusual growths. While you can do it yourself, it’s more thorough to do it with a doctor because they can look at hard-to-reach areas like your back and scalp. You can also ask each other questions if you want to learn more about your skin condition.
We highly recommend visiting a dermatologist for skin checks. They have more expertise than regular doctors as they specialize in the skin, hair, and nails.