The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently released new guidelines calling for changes to improve the postpartum care women receive after giving birth. Postpartum care is important because new moms are at risk of serious and sometimes life-threatening health complications in the days and weeks after giving birth. Too many new moms suffer or die from causes that could have been prevented.
How have ACOG’s postpartum care guidelines changed?
In the past, ACOG recommended that most women have a postpartum checkup 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth. A postpartum checkup is a medical checkup you get after having a baby to make sure you’re recovering well from labor and birth. ACOG now says that postpartum care should be an ongoing process, rather than a one-time checkup. Your postpartum care should meet your personal needs so that you get the best medical care and support. Seeing your health care provider sooner and more often can help prevent serious health complications.
ACOG recommends that all women should:
- Have contact with their health care provider within 3 weeks of giving birth
- Get ongoing medical care during the postpartum period, as needed
- Have a complete postpartum checkup no later than 12 weeks after giving birth
How can you get ready for postpartum care?
Make a postpartum care plan with your provider. Don’t wait until after you have your baby — make your plan while you’re pregnant at one of your prenatal care checkups. To make your plan, talk to your provider about:
- Contact info. How do you get in touch if you’re worried or have questions?
- Your reproductive life plan, including birth control. What method is right for you?
- Physical and emotional changes after pregnancy. What should you expect?
- Health conditions or pregnancy complications to follow up on. What’s your treatment plan?
- Looking out for postpartum depression. What are the signs and symptoms?
- Feeding your baby. Are you planning to breastfeed or feed your baby formula?
- Contacting your provider within 3 weeks of giving birth. When should you get a complete checkup?
- Health insurance. Does your plan cover all your visits?