The fourth trimester, or the first three months of a baby’s life, is filled with a tremendous amount of adjustments and milestones for the baby. These mental and physical developments during your baby’s first three months outside the womb are just as important as those that happened inside. Often the focus—from family members and health care providers—can concentrate solely on the baby’s needs.
But what about the parents, and specifically, the mothers? The fourth trimester isn’t just a time of transition for the baby, but also for the overwhelmed, exhausted adults caring for him or her.
Fourth Trimester Childbirth Adjustments
Childbirth takes a physical toll on a woman’s body, even more so if a woman has had a C-section. Besides the physical recovery, there are many adjustments such as:
- Changing hormones.
- Learning to feed and care for her newborn.
- Emotional upheaval from fatigue and stress.
- A postpartum drop in hormones can trigger depression.
- Sleep deprivation can affect a person’s sense of well-being as well as balancing the care for older children and household chores.
- First-time mothers who had been working may have a difficult time adjusting to maternity leave or leaving the workforce indefinitely.
On top of all that, some women have little or no support from a partner or extended family.
Are you Prepared to Manage Your Own Health?
The results of an online national survey that a market research firm conducted in April 2019 indicates that many women are not prepared for the physical and emotional changes they often experience after giving birth.
The poll found that nearly two-thirds of the 873 mothers surveyed are as concerned for their health as their baby’s. However, thirty-seven of 18 to 34-year-old moms said they didn’t have a plan for managing their health and well-being over the fourth trimester. Forty percent of women in the U.S. don’t receive any postpartum health care visit. Furthermore, Fifty-seven percent said they felt overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or depressed during the three months postpartum.
Several health care organizations are working to raise awareness about women’s needs during the fourth trimester. The 4th Trimester Project at the Jordan Institute for Families is a team of healthcare providers, mothers, and others working to educate the public about postpartum health concerns. The team collaborates with these stakeholders to create solutions about unmet postpartum health needs. Parents can find out more about their advocacy and research on this website: https://jordaninstituteforfamilies.org/innovate/4thtrimesterproject/the4thtrimission/.
In April 2018, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) announced a redesign of postpartum care. ACOG now recommends that postpartum care should be an ongoing process with holistic support offered, rather than a single encounter. They advocate that all women have some form of contact with their obstetric care providers within the first three weeks postpartum.
Creekside Center’s nurse-midwife Sam Corral said, “I like to see women at a minimum at two-weeks and six-weeks post-partum. The visits give me an opportunity to check in with the mom and make sure everything is going well with her health, lactation, milk supply, overall mood, etc. I encourage my patients to call anytime they have a question or a concern. I aim to be just as available to my clients for post-partum as I am for prenatal care.”
Fourth Trimester Health
Mothers can and should be advocates for their health. Before delivery, discuss a comprehensive care plan for your postpartum needs. This plan can include your desire and timing for future pregnancies, management of chronic diseases, as well as information regarding resources such as lactation consultants and counseling for postpartum depression. If you’re a new mom, don’t hesitate to contact your health care provider throughout your fourth trimester as you navigate the new challenges of motherhood.
Creekside Center for Women in Northwest Arkansas believes in providing the finest in women’s health care in a caring, friendly atmosphere. Call us to schedule your appointment. 479.582.9268