New 4th Trimester Guidelines for New Moms

HEALTHY LIVING  | 4.26.18  |  by Terra Wellington

Congrats to all new moms and new moms-to-be!!  While hopefully all of you are obtaining comprehensive and caring pregnancy care before the birth, many of you may not be thinking about what happens with that care after the birth.  But it’s super important!!  And the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently published new guidelines about this “4th trimester” of care.  So many women are not getting follow-up appointments and the extra care they need.  So we thought to inform you about those 4th-trimester guidelines, so you can ask for a higher level of care.

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Why 4th Trimester Care is Important

The weeks following a baby’s birth are life changing.  Your body no longer has a baby inside, so it adjusts to breastfeeding, hormone changes, the uterus going back to a more normal size, and a host of other changes.  The baby needs you more than ever, and that can also be sleep depriving and all consuming.  It can be difficult to manage, even with a supportive spouse and additional family help.

A baby is also undergoing tremendous growth in the first few months of life.  Important development and weight gain should occur, as well as safe and loving care along with regular nutritious feedings.

Getting The Care You Need

The recommendation for after-birth care used to be one visit to your ob-gyn within the first sixth weeks after the baby is born.  No other visits were recommended.

ACOG’s new guidelines issued on April 23, 2018 say the first obstetrics care visit should happen within the first three weeks, with any ongoing care determined then.  And also a minimum second visit is recommended at 12 weeks after birth.   In shorthand, the guidelines are now a minimum of two visits, plus the first visit is earlier (at the three-week mark after birth).

The 12-week visit also is meant to be a transition to ongoing well-woman care, with an assessment of these women health areas:

  • mood and emotional well-being
  • infant care and feeding
  • sexuality contraception and birth spacing
  • sleep and fatigue
  • physical recovery from birth
  • chronic disease management
  • health maintenance

How This New Care Level Can Help

With as many as 40 percent of women not attending any postpartum doctor visit, the new guidelines are encouraging better women care.  Says ACOG –

The weeks following birth are a critical period for a woman and her infant, setting the stage for long-term health and well-being. During this time, a woman is adapting to multiple physical, social and psychological changes. She is recovering from childbirth, adjusting to changing hormones and learning to feed and care for her newborn. Postpartum care visits with ob-gyns or other obstetric care providers can help women navigate the new challenges of motherhood. To optimize the health of women and infants, postpartum care should become an ongoing process, rather than a single encounter, with services and support tailored to each woman’s individual needs.

Ask your ob-gyn about providing this level of service.  Even for moms who have had multiple children, there’s sure to be health benefits.