AUSTIN, TEX. – While women may have a plethora of options for care during pregnancy, attention given to women after birth is seriously lacking, with detrimental effect.
Currently, postpartum care is limited to a follow-up appointment 6 weeks after pregnancy, but according to Alison Stuebe, MD, medical director of lactation services at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, there is too much going on in those 6 weeks to continue this model.
To address preferred changes to this system of care, the.
“What we’d like to do with the new committee opinion is move from this one-off visit at 6 weeks where we tell people ‘you’re good to go, you can have sex, get out of my office,’ to a much more comprehensive approach that reaches out to moms in the first couple of weeks,” explained Dr. Stuebe. “Whether that’s by phone, by asynchronous communication, by in-person visit, [the physician] finds out what’s going on, and then makes appropriate recommendations to help her rather than waiting to see what’s left after 6 weeks,” she said at ACOG’s annual clinical and scientific meeting.
Paying for these services is a big barrier right now, said Dr. Stuebe, but some solutions have already shown signs of being cost effective.
One example, in Dr. Stuebe’s hometown of Durham County, N.C., is a program called Durham Connect, which puts nurses in contact with women at 3 weeks postpartum to make assessments of what care the mother needs, and then offers service referrals to help with those needs.
According to Dr. Stuebe, studies have found every dollar invested in the program would save $3 in emergency department visits for children.
As postpartum care evolves, the most important thing is to remember that when it comes to pregnancy and birth, just because the baby is out doesn’t mean the mother can be ignored, she said.