A recently released committee opinion by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists presents some dramatic new changes to how soon and how often new moms will receive postpartum care.According to some of the new changes, new mothers would see their doctors sooner after they deliver and more frequently. This revamping of post-birth OBGYN care is designed to improve women’s health and tailor it to their individual needs.
The ACOG committee began rethinking its approach to postpartum care several years ago, but it comes at an especially pertinent time as pregnancy-related deaths and life threatening complications of pregnancy are rising. According to NPR, 700 women die each year from pregnancy-related causes and childbirth and 50,000 suffer life-threatening complications.
The Dangerous Postpartum Period
For many women, the postpartum period is a very vulnerable time—trying to get used to the new baby in the house, a flurry of doctor’s visits, sleep deprivation, and hormonal changes—and there are no real formal or even informal forms of support. Women are especially at risk of hypertension and stroke, heartproblems, blood clots, anxiety, depression and half of all maternal deaths occur after the infant is born. Because so much of the focus is on the health of the baby, the health of the mother is often pushed aside.
The Current OBGYNCare for Postpartum Mothers
Currently, new mothers don’t see a doctor until four to six weeks after the delivery. However, prenatal care includes at least 12 or more trips to the OBGYN.
The baby will typically see a doctor a few days after he or she is born, but a mother has to wait longer and insurance companies often only cover one postpartum visit. These postpartum doctor’s visits are also difficult to schedule, as many mothers have to go back to work within days of delivering.
During this period of four to six weeks, many issues can come up, such as difficulties with lactation, depression or hypertension, and often a single visit isn’t enough time to address all the difficulties a new mom could be facing.
New AGOC Guidelines
Under the new ACOG guidelines, a woman’s first postpartum OBGYN visit would be within three days of birth if they have severe hypertension or no later than three weeks if they had a normal pregnancy and birth.
Depending on someone’s individual symptoms and medical history, a final postpartum visit would take place around 12 weeks after birth and would assess their physical and mental health.
This new approach is designed to help doctors and patients take a more proactive effort into checking up on new moms and ensuring they are mentally and physically well. They have nicknamed this new healthcare initiative as “the fourth trimester.”
The hope is that with these guidelines aimed at OBGYN providers, all overall maternal care would change.
Cypress Women’s Center is a place where women can come for OBGYN care provided by other women. For empathetic and compassionate care in Cypress, contact us and make your appointment today.