New Guidelines for the Fourth Trimester
Last year the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released new recommendations for obstetricians during the immediate postpartum period—what is often dubbed the fourth trimester. The new guidelines suggest that post-natal appointments are set as early as three weeks or sooner after birth for those with certain risk factors. This is a change from the previous trend to continue care at six weeks postpartum. ACOG also recommends more comprehensive screenings for new moms after delivery to guarantee they are getting the emotional and physical care they truly require and deserve.
The following statistics cited in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Presidential Task Force on Redefining the Postpartum Visit support the need to evaluate patients earlier rather than later. These statistics help define the revised recommendations for increased and earlier engagement for moms after birth.
- More than half of pregnancy-related maternal deaths occur after the birth of the infant
- More than half of postpartum strokes occur within 10 days of discharge
- 20% of new moms discontinued breastfeeding by six weeks postpartum
- 55% of new moms return to work within 40 days postpartum
The task force also reported that more than 40 percent of new moms do not attend a postpartum visit at all. This is concerning for both mom and newborn, as many health matters like mood changes, birth recovery and feeding issues can be addressed and resolved during this initial appointment. Caring for herself early can allow mom more time to focus on baby.