Adulting. It’s not particularly fun and exciting, but it’s important. As a mom you probably spend a lot of time managing your family calendar and making sure your kids get in for their yearly well checks, vaccinations, dental appointments and numerous visits to the orthodontist (are these still monthly? I had four years of monthly orthodontist visits, sorry mom!).
It is a lot to juggle, and I hate to add more to your plate, but you need to stop and consider if you are taking care of yourself, too. Before I had kids I was pretty good about getting to the dentist twice a year, and to the OB and my primary care doctor once a year (mostly because the yearly visits were required to get my prescriptions refilled). But after having my daughter, the months started to slip by quickly and pretty soon I was months (or a year) late on making my own appointments. Here are the five appointments you need to be making for yourself each year.
- Yearly physical: This is one that I think many women skip if they are already seeing their OB once a year for their well-woman exam. We are more than our reproductive organs, ladies! Primary care physicians (PCPs) are great for annual physicals as well. I am very rarely sick, but if I am, I have a doctor to go to that knows my history and don’t have to rely on the ER or trips to urgent care. My doctor caught my gall bladder issues, manages the meds for my anxiety disorder, and discovered my extremely low vitamin D levels. I’ve encountered many women that don’t get physicals and even more men. Often it’s the assumption that they are young and healthy so why see a doctor? For many, it is insecurity about stepping on the scale or having blood work done. We can’t stay healthy by burying our heads in the sand, so make this yearly appointment a must for everyone in your family.
- OB-GYN: While pap smears are typically only done every three years, a yearly pelvic and breast exam is still recommended. Being established with an OB-GYN before you get pregnant is a smart choice. This allows you to build a relationship and rapport with the doctor who will be with you during the nine long months of pregnancy and hopefully during your delivery, too. When it comes to fertility issues, your primary care doctor will have limited knowledge on the subject, so make sure to see a gynecologist to discuss any questions you have about getting pregnant. If you are having trouble getting pregnant, don’t hesitate to ask for a referral to a fertility specialist (reproductive endocrinologist) for testing and a discussion of all your options.
- Dermatologist: This is the appointment that I think most people don’t even know they should be making. I didn’t have my first until I was about 30 years old and had seen multiple friends deal with skin cancer (one sadly lost her battle). Make this appointment today. Make this appointment for your spouse, too, while you’re at it. The doctor will do what’s called a “skin mapping” of all your moles, strange freckles, birth marks, etc. and biopsy any that look suspicious. While we may be vigilant about applying sunscreen on our kids, most of us probably visited tanning beds or did a lot of laying out back in our teen years (and significantly increased our risk of developing skin cancer.) Once you have a baseline mapping done, you can come back each year for a check up to see if any of those moles have changed size or shape. The dermatologist may recommend more frequent check ups if biopsies show you have pre-cancerous or cancerous spots. Like all cancers, it is so important to catch them early and yearly visits to the dermatologist are the best preventative measure you can take.
- Dentist: I hate going to the dentist. The scraping, the flossing lecture, the fillings, the hygienist trying to make conversation with me while her hands are in my mouth. Yeah it’s not always pleasant, but nobody wants gross teeth. It’s important to set a good example for our kids, so just go and get it over with! Six months can fly by in the blink of an eye, so at the end of each appointment make sure you schedule your next one and put it on your calendar. Maybe dentists will catch on soon and start giving adults balloons and special prizes like the pediatric dentists do? I’d be down with that.
- Pampering: Self-care is so important! So schedule something for yourself at LEAST once a year. A massage, manicure/pedicure, facial or spring for the complete spa day! Drop hints with family around your birthday and the holidays and hopefully you’ll unwrap a gift card to treat yourself!