Pregnancy is long. So long that it actually goes well past the nine months that it is known for. Taking things even further, in recent years a Fourth Trimester has been added to signify the trimester after the baby is born and focuses very much on how mom is feeling and recovering. So much praise for that.
However, even though the "Fourth Trimester" is becoming a more common term, it doesn't mean that women, their doctors, and their partners are actually taking the time to focus on how important it actually is. Hopefully, things are about to change as more and more reports are highlighting the impact that the Fourth Trimester actually has on mom's health. We're talking long-term effects.
NPR reported that among developed countries, the United States "has the highest rate of death among pregnant women and new mothers. And for every woman who dies, dozens more come close." That is really a huge statement to digest as a woman living in America, supposedly one of the most advanced nations in the world. We shouldn't be this behind whenever it comes to the care that women are receiving during and after childbirth.
Why is this happening? A lot of it boils down to a chronic illness that women already have whenever they become pregnant, conditions that can develop during pregnancy such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, pre-term delivery and mental health issues.
There is also alarm to be raised about the fact that so many new moms neglect their own health care after giving birth. We get it. There is exhaustion and new babies to put first, but with the given six to twelve weeks to get to their postpartum appointment, recommended by doctors, a "20 to 40 percent of women don't get to that appointment, studies suggest."
With these rising numbers, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have changed that allowed time after giving birth down to three weeks, urging women to make sure that they make these appointments a priority.
Dr. Lisa Hollier, president of ACOG says, "Women with high blood pressure, for example, are often seen within the first five to seven days after the delivery," Hollier says. "We really believe that to best optimize the health of women, the postpartum care should really be a process — not a visit."
During the Fourth Trimester, a woman can discuss and put a plan into action for services such as needed physical therapy and figure out a plan for getting routine care.