WOW! This is huge news, mamas! I have been waiting for more emphasis on the “Fourth Trimester” since I suffered with postpartum mental and phsycial health. As I’ve talked about before, my postpartum journey or “Fourth Trimester” was very difficult. I suffered from extreme breastmilk oversupply, a colicky baby and heavy postpartum bleeding. Typically, your healthcare provider wants to see you at six weeks postpartum for a normal vaginal birth (2-4 weeks for a cesarean). For me, six weeks was too late. Had I been able to see someone earlier, I may have avoided having an infected uterus from my retained placenta. I was so thrilled when my dad, a podiatrist, saw the new ACOG recommendations posted in his local physician’s magazine.
So many things happen in the first month after having a baby. Your entire life is completely flipped upside down. I never like to scare new moms, but it is true that sometimes you wish baby could go back in your tummy and cook a little longer so you can get some sleep! I was completely clueless when it came to taking care of a newborn baby. I wasn’t a babysitter, I had no younger siblings or cousins and not many of my friends had children. Not only that, but I didn’t really know whether my physical symptoms were normal. They say you can bleed for up to six weeks but mine was like a regular period never tapering off. I really believe I could have benefited from having earlier checkups and ongoing postpartum care. When you think about it, six weeks is a long time to wait to see a healthcare provider after the biggest phsyical and emotional event of your life. You will likely have lots of follow-up questions, concerns about breastfeeding, questions about what you can do for any pain and want confirmation that you are healing properly.
In April of this year, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists revised Committee Opinion to include “Fourth Trimester” postpartum care. The old recommendations had providers checking in with a single visit in the first 6 weeks following a normal vaginal delivery. The new recommendations suggest a continuous process of evaluation starting with an initial assessment in the first three weeks and comprehensive evaluation within twelve weeks. ACOG’s goal is to reduce disease and death in women following childbirth by having more holistic postpartum care.
Topics that should be discussed with you during your postpartum visits:
- “mood and emotional well-being
- sleep patterns
- chronic disease managment
- infant care and feeding”
information provided by WNY PHYSICIAN MAGAZINE
As always, it is important for YOU to be your biggest adovocate. Online research can be helpful when you want to know if things are “normal” but you can also reach out to postpartum doulas, lactation consultants, pediatricians and of course, your OB or midwife. There is a lot happening with your postpartum body and mind and it’s important that ALL of your concerns are addressed. If your healthcare provider isn’t following these new ACOG reccomendations, use your new knowledge to ask them why. It is never too late to change healthcare providers! You and your partner should feel completely at ease when working with your OB or midwife. If you have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, trust your mama intuition. You are in charge of your and your child’s well-being! I’m so grateful to all of the women before me that have shared their journey with postpartum health and have advocated for better care for new mothers. I truly can’t say enough how happy this new emphasis on “Fourth Trimester” care makes me!