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Optimizing Postpartum Care, Renewed Focus on Improving Mental and Physical Health for New Moms

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Petersburg, VA – Not long after the world was wowed with photos of Duchess Kate Middleton and her new royal baby, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released guidance to improve mental and physical care for new moms.

These recommendations set the stage for long-term health for women and infants. The report states, “Postpartum care should become an ongoing process, rather than a single encounter.”  It also advises insurers to cover the costs for new moms to see their doctors sooner and more often. This 11-page report represents a shift from an intense focus on prenatal care to a long-term care plan that includes what’s called the “fourth trimester.”

Dr. Daphne Bazile-Harrison, MD, FACOG an OB/GYN with Southside Physicians Network says, “I endorse the new recommendations! The relationship a woman makes with her Obstetrician does not end once the baby is delivered.”

The current standard for postpartum checkups is six weeks from child birth. ACOG now recommends cutting that time in half to three weeks, and for women suffering from hypertension, as little as three days. ACOG also says new mothers should work with their OB/GYN to develop an ongoing care plan and have a comprehensive postpartum visit no later than 12 weeks.

The comprehensive visit should include a full assessment of the following:

  • Physical, social and psychological well-being (including mood and emotional)
  • Infant care and feeding
  • Sexuality, contraception and birth spacing
  • Sleep and fatigue
  • Physical recovery from birth
  • Management of chronic disease
  • Health maintenance

The days and weeks after childbirth can be a time of particular vulnerability for mothers, with physical and emotional risks that include pain and infection, hypertension and stroke, heart problems, blood clots, anxiety and depression. 

Here at The Birth Place at Southside Regional Medical Center, we make sure all patients are doing well following delivery. Postpartum visits are made prior to discharge, and our excellent nursing and office staff call to check in on mom once she has gone home,” continues Dr. Bazile-Harrison.

This should come as welcome news to new mothers adjusting to life with a new baby. Balancing home, work, baby and other family commitments can be overwhelming. These new recommendations allow women to take a step back and say, “Its ok to take care of me.” With as many as 40% of women missing a postpartum visit, this is an opportunity to promote the overall health and well-being of moms.

Dr. Bazile-Harrison is encouraged and notes, “With these new recommendations, hopefully we can become more proactive in advocating continual good health for our patients and their families.”

For additional comments or more information contact Dr. Bazile-Harrison at 804-481-0143.

The full report can be seen here:

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