August 6, 2019
One of the best ways to set yourself up for a great recovery from birth is to prepare. If you’re the plan-ahead type, you may have already started to prepare for the baby by setting up a nursery or choosing a pediatrician (if not, no worries). You may have even started thinking about preparing for birth, by taking a birth class at your hospital, for example. But it’s just as important to prepare for your recovery from birth and pregnancy and transition to motherhood. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends setting up a postpartum care plan and care team before your baby is born.
Your ob-gyn (obstetrician-gynecologist) or other medical provider that’s in charge of your prenatal care should help you develop your care plan by providing guidance about topics like mental health, pregnancy complications, infant feeding, and plans for more children or birth control. If your doctor hasn’t brought it up, don’t be shy asking about it. It’s part of their job.
The conversations you have while developing your care plan should help your figure out when there’s an issue that needs to be addressed. MamaMend can also help fill in the blanks. But the integral part of this plan is knowing what to do and who to call next. And that’s where the postpartum care team comes into play. Your care team is made up of the people that can provide medical, social, and other support for you in the fourth trimester and beyond. These people include friends and family, maternal health providers, infant health providers, and other professionals.
Friends and Family
Social support is extremely helpful during the postpartum period. It can be one of the loneliest and most isolating times in a person’s life. In addition to providing emotional support, friends and family can help with infant care, household chores, childcare for older children, meal preparation, and transportation. They also can monitor for signs of postpartum complications and conditions, including perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Your ob-gyn or other obstetric care provider (midwife, family doctor) should be your go-to for postpartum health concerns. However, at some point (usually after the 6-week checkup) your care may transition back to your primary care physician. There can be some confusion about who to go to for things come up after that transition, so a conversation with your ob-gyn might be helpful. It’s good to keep in mind that either one should be able to help you for most things, so don’t let confusion keep you from making the call. If a specialist is needed, they should be able to make the right referral.
Infant health is usually more straightforward. Your pediatrician or other health care provider should be your go-to for your baby’s health concerns. The less straightforward part can happen when the infant and maternal health overlaps, like in breastfeeding. Most pediatricians are knowledgeable about breastfeeding issues and conditions, but some might defer to your maternal health provider or a specialist like a lactation consultant.
This category is probably the most important one to think about in advance. The other three are probably more obvious and even if you don’t write down their names and numbers, you probably know who they are ahead of time. But thinking about the other professionals you might need, before you need them, is extremely helpful. These other professionals can include the following:
Sometimes the effort it takes to figure out who to go to can be so overwhelming that by the time the conditions or challenges develop, moms end up not getting the help they need. So save yourself the effort later and set yourself up for success!
Optimizing postpartum care. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 736. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2018;131:e140–50. Retrieved on July 31, 2019 from https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Optimizing-Postpartum-Care
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