A Pap smear is a medical procedure that involves a doctor using a swab to obtain cells from your cervix. The procedure tests the cells of your cervix to check for abnormalities that could indicate cancer. Most women have a Pap smear once a year, though that timetable might change slightly if you're pregnant or if you've just given birth. Having a baby does not exempt you from a Pap smear, but you should wait until the time is right after giving birth.
Ask your doctor about your risk factors. If you've never had an abnormal Pap smear, you might be able to wait two to three years, according to the American Pregnancy Association. That's two to three years from the date of your last Pap smear, however, and not from the date of your baby's birth.
Call your doctor about six to eight weeks after your baby's birth to see whether you need to schedule a Pap smear. If it's been more than a year since your previous Pap smear or if you've had abnormal results in the past, your doctor will probably want to perform the test, because, according to the American Pregnancy Association, a Pap smear once a year is standard. Bleeding, such as when you have your period, can interfere with the accuracy of a Pap smear, according to the website for PubMed. You would wait the six to eight weeks, however, because postpartum bleeding is quite common following delivery, and it can interfere with the accuracy of the Pap smear results just like a normal period can.
Wait until your period returns. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the optimal time to have a Pap smear is about 10 to 20 days after the first day of your last period. Your doctor might hold off on performing the Pap smear until you've had at least one period so he can schedule it at the best time to get the most accurate results.
Your doctor might recommend that you have a Pap smear as soon as possible after delivery, if you've had abnormal results before. Sixty percent of women with an abnormal Pap smear before pregnancy have a normal smear following the birth of their baby, according to the book "Your Pregnancy Quick Guide: Tests And Procedures." This might occur because the abnormal cells are sloughed off during delivery or because your baby scrapes them away from your cervix as he travels through the birth canal, according to the American Pregnancy Association. A repeat Pap smear that comes back normal can help ease your mind.
Always ask your doctor about when to get Pap smears. Your physician knows your health history and is the best resource for receiving adequate medical care. If you had an abnormal Pap smear before or during your pregnancy, follow your doctor's guidelines about when you need to have another one.