When a woman decides she is ready to pursue motherhood and becomes pregnant with her child, she immediately enters the prenatal phase.

Doctors and Advanced Practice Clinicians (APCs) at Austin Regional Clinic are well equipped with helpful pointers to guide patients through the prenatal phase as well as the postpartum phase.

“I have always been interested in reproductive health since shadowing a local Ob/Gyn in high school. Although I enjoyed other specialties in medical school, nothing compared to the diversity of obstetrics and gynecology,” said Julia M. Voelkl, MD, MPH, Ob/Gyn at ARC South OB-GYN.

Schedule a prepregnancy exam

Once a patient determines she wants to have a baby, she should visit the Ob/Gyn before the pregnancy begins. A prepregnancy exam is a way for the doctor to get to know the patient and determine if there is anything they need to pay attention to in preparation for the pregnancy. The physician or APC will also do lab work to make sure that all levels are in the normal range. Genetic screening can also be offered for patients interested in this test.

The recommendations that the doctor may make are based on what is discussed during the prepregnancy visit and what is identified on the exam.

Some common questions and answers during the exam:

How long will it take for ovulation to normalize after stopping birth control?
  • The average time it takes a woman to conceive depends upon if she was on birth control. If a patient was on the birth control pill, it can take one to three months for her period to normalize. If she is on a long-acting reversible contraceptive method, such as Nexplanon or an IUD, it can actually take up to six months to normalize.
When should patients see the doctor?
  • When a patient is over the age of 35 and it takes more than six months to become pregnant, she should consider seeing her Ob/Gyn for an evaluation to determine why she is having difficulty.
  • For those under the age of 35, it is recommended that patients visit their Ob/Gyn after a full year of trying to conceive.

Once a patient is in the postpartum phase after giving birth, she might experience other unfamiliar symptoms.

The “baby blues” can sometimes occur only for a few hours each day and often disappear within 14 days after delivery. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, can occur within four weeks to several months after childbirth and can last up to a year.

Symptoms of baby blues and postpartum depression:
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Sadness
  • Aggression
  • Extreme stress
  • Feelings of detachment from the baby
Causes of baby blues and postpartum depression:
  • Changes in hormone levels
  • Lifestyle adjustments
  • History of depression
  • Emotional factors, such as doubt, guilt, fear and anger
  • Fatigue
  • Lifestyle factors
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommends that all women have contact with their healthcare provider within three weeks of giving birth and continue to seek ongoing medical care, as needed, during the postpartum period.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to take care of patients in all phases of their lives, including primary care, pregnancy, menopause transition and beyond. I believe the foundation of a great patient-physician relationship is patient education and shared decision-making,” Dr. Voelkl said.

Visit ARCobgyn.com to learn more about all the Ob/Gyn services offered, find a location nearby and for scheduling options to make an appointment today.

The above story was produced by Community Impact's Senior Multi Platform Journalist Sierra Rozen with information solely provided by the local business as part of its "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.