ACOG’s Postpartum Care Recommendations

Waiting 6 weeks to see your OB/GYN again after you give birth is pretty common here in the United States. It’s vastly different than the midwifery model of care; many midwives see clients at 24-48 hours postpartum, 3 weeks, and again at 6 weeks. The postpartum period is the only time that it’s acceptable to send someone home to care not only for themselves and a newborn, but sometimes an entire family while they recover from an event such as this.

The wound from your placenta is about the size of a dinner plate, and if it was on the outside of your body, people would be freaking out and telling you not to move.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released their new recommendations for postpartum care, and we could not be more excited about the acknowledgement of the fourth trimester and the effort to reduce some of the challenges women experience in the early postpartum weeks.

Below are some of the key points from the recommendation, which proposes “a new paradigm for postpartum care.” These are the key points that you NEED to know, because YOU are needed to help make this change.

Creating a postpartum plan for the transition into parenthood and how to continue receiving well woman care should be part of your prenatal care.

Receiving this guidance during prenatal appointments will help women prepare for those early months and will help them put a plan in place for caring for themselves.

Prenatal care should also address your plans for future pregnancies, as this can impact contraceptive options.

There are many contraceptive options ranging from fertility awareness methods to intrauterine devices that last for many years. Of course, there’s also options for permanent birth control, if you’re done having babies. Starting the conversation about which contraceptives you’re interested in should happen prenatally, but you don’t have to decide right away if you’re okay with potential pregnancy soon after birth.

Postpartum care should be ongoing and individualized.

Every postpartum experience is unique, and we all deserve care that is specific to us and address individual needs. Just like prenatal care should be.

The first postpartum appointment should occur within three weeks of birth.

Breastfeeding should be getting easier. If you’re struggling- a three week difference is huge. It’s important that in any situation, you receive adequate help from a professional. Many providers aren’t well versed in breastfeeding challenges, but they can refer you to a lactation counselor or consultant.

You should have a comprehensive visit to address physical and emotional health no later than twelve weeks after the birth of your baby.

Physical recovery, contraception, postpartum sex, fatigue and sleep, infant care and feeding, health maintenance, and mood and emotional well being should be addressed during this visit. This is an important time to watch for Postpartum Mood Disorders.

Complications during pregnancy should be proactively addressed during your postpartum care.

For example, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes have been linked to an increased risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes later in life. It’s important that you discuss and make a plan with your care provider for how to stay healthy and on top of things, so that your risk doesn’t continue to increase.

Providing optimal and safe postpartum care is key to reducing maternal mortality and other complications. Our obstetric providers should be working toward making the necessary policy changes to accomplish this.

With that said, it’s important that you take a stand for yourself and for others that need reproductive health care. Demand the care we need. It’s okay to have expectations of your providers, and it’s okay to ask them to stand up against policies to make the changes that needs to be made.

How was your experience with the six week wait? Do you feel like you received optimal postpartum care? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

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