CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – Pregnancy is a time of great expectation and great preparation – with regular prenatal checkups scheduled to make sure mother and child are healthy and safe.
After baby arrives, though, women in the United States don’t typically have their postpartum checkup until about six weeks following delivery. Unless, that is, they actively seek medical care earlier because of a physical or emotional concern.
With recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation showing more than half of all maternal mortalities occur after childbirth, a committee opinion from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists proposes new moms should be seen by their OB/GYN sooner and more often following childbirth.
Specifically, the ACOG committee opinion states new moms should ideally be seen between three days and three weeks postpartum for follow-up care, depending on their pregnancies and risk factors for chronic disease or mental illness.
In addition to earlier postpartum health-care visits, the committee opinion states new moms be seen at about 12 weeks postpartum for a comprehensive assessment of their postpartum physical and mental health.
Providers at Summit Women’s Group say that while the committee opinion’s proposal could be beneficial, their practice already has mechanisms in place to help ensure women who need additional postpartum care have their needs met before their six-week appointment.
“Our patients typically reach out to us as first line of contact when they have concerns, especially postpartum,” explained Dr. Chris Molloy of Summit Women’s Group. “So, while we do not routinely schedule patients earlier than six weeks, our patients frequently contact us as needed and we are able to accommodate their concerns.”
Currently at Summit Women’s Group, new moms who had uncomplicated pregnancy and vaginal delivery are seen at six weeks postpartum, which is in line with current recommendations.
Patients who have had a cesarean section are seen one week after giving birth to have stitches or staples removed and then at two weeks to check their incision before returning at six weeks.
Dr. Molloy noted many patients are scheduled earlier appointments based on medical risk factors during pregnancy and delivery.
“If a patient has severe hypertension, we have them come in once a week or more, if needed,” she said. “We taper off their appointments as their blood pressure stabilizes.”
Dr. Molloy added that prior to hospital discharge, new moms are educated on both physical and emotional red flags to watch for and advised of when they should call Summit Women’s Group or its after-hours hotline.
“Even though current standards don’t mandate we see our new moms a few days after delivery, it’s important for us to develop relationships with our patients and keep our lines of communication open,” said Dr. Molloy. “We want to be here for them whenever they need.”
For more information on Summit Women’s Group, visit: www.SummitHealth.org/Obstetrics.
Summit Health is a non-profit network of hospitals and physician practices dedicated to building a healthier community.
As Franklin County's leading healthcare provider, Summit Health offers family care, specialists, lab and imaging services, a fitness center, two walk-in care centers, and two award-winning hospitals.