Postpartum care is an essential part of getting off to a good start as a parent, and as a family! One of the biggest flaws in our current maternity system is in the poor quantity and quality of the postpartum care provided to people following birth. We pride ourselves in providing the midwifery model of care not only during prenatal visits, labor and birth - but throughout the postpartum time period.
What is the Postpartum Period?
The postpartum includes the time period immediately following the birth and up to 6 to 8 weeks later, when your bleeding has finally stopped and the initial healing phase has completed. Some people describe the postpartum period as the “4th trimester,” a time when important physical processes are taking place such as milk production, healing, parent-infant bonding etc.
After the birth of your baby, you will typically remain in the birth center for up to 4 hours before postpartum discharge. During this time you will have the chance to breast/chestfeed your baby, rest and recover before heading home. We usually do the full newborn exam during this period and help you get up to use the bathroom for the first time.
Before you leave the birth center, we will give you instructions on postpartum warning signs and symptoms to watch for when you return home. We will discuss in detail concerns which should prompt you to call us immediately, including newborn respiratory problems, signs of postpartum infection, breastfeeding difficulties, and other postpartum warning signs you should know about before discharge.
In the days and weeks following your birth, our care will focus on assessing your health and well-being, supporting the breastfeeding relationship and guiding you through the transition to parenthood. All visits which take place prior to two weeks occur in your home. Postpartum care is typically provided on the following schedule, and can be adjusted as appropriate.
1st visit: 24-48 hours (checking for early postpartum warning signs))
2nd visit: 3-5 days or 7-10 days (newborn screening)
3rd visit: 2 weeks (newborn weight check)
4th visit: 6 weeks (family planning information and resources)
Visits typically also include time for discussion, breastfeeding support, and careful checking of your vitals and your baby’s vitals.
One of the reasons postpartum care is so important is to intentionally prevent and identify any postpartum depression or anxiety which may be developing. These types of mood disorders are much more common than many people realize, and some cite postpartum depression statistics as occurring in as may 15-20% of people after birth (Postpartum Support International). We screen for postpartum mood disorders during your postpartum check ups, and keep communication open about this as we discuss your emotional and mental adjustment to parenthood. Let your midwife know if you have any of the following following factors which may increase your risk of postpartum depression:
A personal or family history of depression, anxiety, or postpartum depression
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS)
Inadequate support in caring for the baby
A major recent life event: loss, house move, job loss
A history of having gone through infertility treatments