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What is the Fourth Trimester?

For all women, the birth of their baby is the beginning of an exciting and challenging journey into motherhood. Too often new moms may forget that they are still in both physical and emotional recovery from the pregnancy and delivery. These first 6-8 weeks are now being recognized as the “fourth trimester”.

Providing support postpartum has been always been a focus of our practice, but more recently this very unique time for women has been getting more, much-needed attention. Recently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), at their national meeting, addressed the unique health issues during the postpartum period and made a commitment to include formal ongoing treatment for mothers of newborns during this time.

For some women, medical complications during pregnancy, or with the delivery will necessitate close follow up. These issues may include elevated blood pressure, gestational diabetes, or an unscheduled C-section. For other women, feelings of anxiety, depression, or other emotional distress may need to be addressed before the typical six-week postpartum visit.

The rise of discussions around this “fourth trimester” and the general redesign of postpartum care is a positive step in giving mothers the support they need post-childbirth for medical and emotional issues as well as for general health and well being.

newborn baby sleeping in mothers arms