A poll found that although nearly two-thirds of the 873 mothers were so concerned for their own well-being as their babies, and 26 percent do not have a plan for the management of their health over the period known as the “fourth trimester.”
Nkechi Charles knows more than most about the unwanted surprises that can happen during and after the pregnancy.
She is a doctoral candidate who has researched cases of women with complicated pregnancies.
However, even the 39-year-old North Carolina mother was thrown for a loop during her two pregnancies.
Her first daughter was delivered by emergency caesarean section weighing 2 pounds, 5 ounces after Charles’ blood pressure spiked.
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During her second pregnancy, Charles’ stomach muscles separated, while they are still wearing the baby.
“It is like a wild ride,” Charles told healthline. “It throws me. It is a wild experience.”
Charles didn’t wait the usual six weeks after delivery, the doctor about her problems.
However, they want more new mothers were talking to their health care providers sooner rather than later, about what they think, so they are better prepared to handle life after the birth.
The results of a national survey that a market research company conducted last month on behalf of a Florida network of hospitals indicate that many women are ill-prepared for the physical and emotional changes they experience often in the aftermath of the birth.
The online survey showed that although nearly two-thirds of the 873 mothers were so concerned for their own well-being as their babies, and 26 percent do not have a plan for the management of their health over the period known as the “fourth trimester.”
Those in the 18 to 34 age group were more vulnerable, with 37 per cent reporting they had not taken steps to ensure that they would get what they need assistance to deliver.
In addition, 41 percent of the respondents indicated that they are anxious, overwhelmed or depressed after the birth. That figure has risen to 57 percent among people younger than 45.
Megan Gray, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Orlando Health and served as a consultant for the study, the characteristics of the results for a part to doctors and midwives, not to emphasize the importance of self-care to their patients.
“All the attention is focused on the baby. We have completely forgotten about mom,” she said healthline.
Fourth trimester care
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists announced last year, it was advising every woman to talk to her doctor within the first three weeks after childbirth, but most women still adhere to the conventional six weeks checkup, says Gray.
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By contrast, expectant mothers typically see their doctor once per month during the first trimester, every two weeks or so in the second and one time per week to the end of the third, ” she said.
Because the medical school training is focused on the pregnancy and pays little attention to postpartum needs, doctors usually congratulate new mothers with a figurative pat on the back and send them on their way without scheduling a follow-up visit in short order, says Gray.
“In one way or another, magically, women figure out how to be mothers and their newborns and themselves,” she said.
Gray is not talking in the abstract.
She remembers her disappointment in the lack of hands-on care that she received after undergoing a C-section three years ago with her first child.
“I was surprised by how hard (that time) was compared with the other three quarters,” she said.
Gray’s experience inspired her to spend a portion of her maternity leave writing a book to guide her own patients through that time.
“My goal is to make the fourth quarter just as important as the first three,” she said. “Happy, healthy mommy equals happy, healthy baby.”
The topics include aspects of recovery, such as how to care for vaginal tears and to recognize common complications associated with C-sections. This information, Gray says, is something new mothers are often too exhausted and distracted to absorb if their doctor tells them.
The emotional side
Apart from needing help to understand the physical toll that childbirth can take on their body, many women suffer from emotional backlash, says Gray.
A postpartum drop in certain hormones can lead to depression and sleep deprivation from getting up every two or three hours during the night to breastfeed does not do wonders for their sense of well-being.
Some women try to juggle cooking, cleaning the house, and caring for older children, Gray added.
And there are other anxiety-provoking changes.
The first time mothers who had derived a sense of identity, of their professional careers may have a difficult time adjusting to the maternity leave or the leave of the employees for an indefinite period of time.
Friends who used to socialize with stop.
On top of all that, some women have little or no support of a partner during this period of adjustment, says Gray.
Help of health professionals
A key to the obtaining of the mothers of the newborns of the help is for the providers to listen carefully to what patients have to say about the education, says Kristin Tully, a research associate with the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Without that two-way, non-judgmental conversation, a doctor who is focused on the merits of breastfeeding, but which the patient wants to bottle-feed her baby at night might miss the opportunity to find a mutually acceptable solution, Tully told healthline.
“If you say ‘do this and never do that,’ there is no space for (the recognize) the realities of the lives of people,” she said.
Tully added that the guidelines do not take into account how difficult it is to get a new mother can a woman be ashamed.
Tully is involved in the 4th Trimester Project, a university-sponsored team of health care providers, mothers, and others are trying to educate the public about postpartum health concerns.
Gray would like to see the healthcare providers offer classes on the postpartum experience and spend more time during patients pregnancies, encourage them to continue to think about the nursery ready and taking classes to prep for labor.
They can, for example, the question of whether a woman has lined up a lactation consultant or found someone to watch the baby while she sleeps.
Ideally, doctors should be checked in with the women once every other week for the first few months after they had their baby, Grey added.
She noted a telephone interview can be practical for both a person to visit.
Gray is of the opinion that the medical community is open to changing the way it delivers a post-natal care, especially given the fact that many OB-GYNs these days are women who understand first-hand the problems that the patients face.
In the meantime, the first time mothers need to have their own lawyers, said Sarah Verbiest, executive director of the University of North Carolina’s Jordan Institute for Families.
“They are business and they need to ask for what they need — no one will give it to her,” Verbiest told healthline. “If she hurts, she should her doctor. It is OK to ask for help.”
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