Fourth Trimester: Postpartum Care for Women
It goes without saying that having a baby changes your life. After leaving the hospital, new parents are busy loving, welcoming and caring for their new bundle of joy. But, in the haze of those first busy days and weeks, it’s important for moms to take care of their health and pay attention to their physical, mental and emotional needs.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently announced new postpartum guidelines for new moms that emphasize a comprehensive approach to women’s health and establish an on-going relationship between women and their providers.
“These new guidelines shift the focus to the patient as a whole,” says Thu Tran, MD at Capital Women’s Care. “Now, providers are encouraged to ask questions about delivery, recovery and also discuss their mental health and well-being, along with contraceptive planning.”
THE ACOG GUIDELINES RECOMMEND:
- Women see their provider within three weeks after delivery for the first post-partum follow-up, with another appointment scheduled by 12 weeks after childbirth. Previously, women were encouraged to see providers at six weeks after a vaginal delivery with no complications.
- Care should be individualized to each patient to help meet the unique needs of women after childbirth, including counseling and on-going management of chronic conditions or complications experienced during pregnancy or childbirth.
- Open conversation about contraceptive use, including future plans for more children
“More women are having high risk pregnancies, and these new guidelines give providers and patients the opportunity to discuss problems or answer any questions,” says Dr. Tran. “Now, it will hopefully be a little bit easier to have conversations about postpartum depression, anxiety, breastfeeding or any other concerns a new mom has.”
“It’s hard to carve out time for yourself after having a baby,” Dr. Tran continues. “But, it’s just as important for new moms to take care of their health as it is for these moms to take care of their babies. Let your provider know if you have any worries or concerns so that, together, you can come up with a plan that gets you healthy and happy.”