Why Postpartum Care Is so Important

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Illustration by Zhen Liu

It’s called the “Fourth trimester,” the three months following delivery. Now it will be given more attention, thanks to new recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Instead of a single visit to their obstetrician four to six weeks after delivery, new moms should receive an initial assessment within three weeks, ongoing visits as needed, and a 12-week follow-up visit.

Postpartum changes could save lives
Surveys suggest that two out of five women do not visit a doctor postpartum. More alarming, 50 percent of pregnancy-related maternal deaths occur after delivery. In response, the ACOG recommends that postpartum care be an individualized, comprehensive process to assess the physical, psychological, and social well-being of patients, including depression, infant care, birth spacing, sleep, chronic disease management, plus sup- port for domestic or addiction issues, among others.

“There are a lot of physiologic and emotional changes that happen during that time, and it’s a reminder that we need to continue to focus on the care of the mother, and that the pregnancy episode isn’t quite complete,” says Laura Broxterman, obstetrician with The Christ Hospital.

ACOG also recommends policy changes that support babies and new moms with paid parental leave and reimbursement for postpartum care.

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