Many problems can arise before or during pregnancy that has the potential to impact the health of the mother, child or both. During pregnancy, a woman can develop a physical or mental illness, or in case she is already suffering from one, then pregnancy can worsen the symptoms. Though occasional stress and anxiety related to the birth of a child and one’s own health is normal, recurrent and untreated issues can harm both the mother and her baby. It is important for women of reproductive age to adopt a healthy lifestyle and address any health problems prior to conceiving.
In an effort to optimize women’s health and that of her child, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has made a list of recommendations to make postpartum care an ongoing process with services and support tailored as per individual needs. The 11-page ACOG report represents a fundamental restructuring of current facilities in which health care providers, insurers and patients work together to improve care for women after childbirth.
Guidelines ensure comprehensive assessment of mom’s well-being
The committee noted that though days and weeks post childbirth can be a particularly vulnerable time for new mothers, for many women in America, this period is devoid of any formal or informal maternal support. According to the new ACOG guidelines, women would be able to see their health care providers much earlier and can return as often as required. As per the report, women should ideally be in touch with a maternal care provider within the first three weeks after the delivery. The guidelines also suggest that the visits to the provider would depend on a case-by-case basis with the final postpartum visit taking place as late as 12 weeks post the delivery. The visits will include a comprehensive assessment of the mother’s physical, social and psychological well-being.
Severe maternal morbidity (SMM) or unexpected pregnancy outcomes that result in significant short- or long-term consequences affects more than 50,000 women in the U.S. every year. About 700 women die each year due to pregnancy or delivery-related complications where over 60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Pregnancy-related deaths are influenced by factors like family, health care provider and other systems of care.
Keeping in mind the rising rates of pregnancy-related deaths and near-deaths in the U.S., the ACOG urge health care providers to take a proactive approach in helping mothers along with their family and friends to develop a post-pregnancy care plan while still pregnant. The guidelines also urge the providers to convey to the patients the long-term health risks associated with pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes, preterm birth and preeclampsia. Additionally, women with chronic medical conditions also need to be counseled regarding the importance of timely follow-up with their providers. As per the recommendations, changes in the scope of postpartum care will require changes in the reimbursement policies as well, supporting postpartum care as a continuous process.
The road ahead
The days and weeks following the childbirth are critical for new mothers as they are burdened with additional responsibilities. It often results in self-neglect, feelings of guilt about not looking after the baby well or fulfilling familial responsibilities, fatigue, despair, sleepless nights and irritability. When such emotions and thoughts remain undiagnosed, the risk of anxiety, depression, heart problems, pain, hypertension and stroke rises manifold. One of the most common problems post childbirth is postpartum depression, which can occur any time during the first year of birth and, if left untreated, often lasts for a year or more.
Sovereign Health offers personalized treatment plans to women suffering from mental health, substance use and co-occurring disorders. Our depression treatment centers for women are equipped with all the means to provide the best possible care to women patients and alleviate their suffering. For more information on our treatment programs or to locate the nearest women’s depression treatment center, call our 24/7 helpline number and speak to a representative or chat live online with a member of our team.
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