Tools

Postpartum Toolkit

Author:
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
Source:
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
Contributor:
Publication Year:
2018
May 05, 2020
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being

Introduction

Childbirth and the postpartum period are exciting and special life experiences for many women and their families. This is also a period of physical, mental, and social change. Although many women and infants transition through this time uneventfully, some women find it overwhelming or develop significant health issues that may persist for weeks and months after giving birth. This “fourth trimester” period can present considerable challenges for women, including lack of sleep, fatigue, pain, breastfeeding difficulties, lack of sexual desire, and urinary incontinence. Postpartum depression is common and often is associated with physical and relationship problems. Women with postpartum depression are less likely to attend their postpartum visits or vaccinate their children in a timely manner. Nearly 70% of women describe at least one physical problem during the first 12 months in the postpartum period (1). For 25% of these women, the problem is deemed to be of moderate severity and 20% have severe problems (2). As the severity of postpartum problems increases, there is a corresponding increase in women’s functional limitations, including their ability to work, look after children, or undertake household tasks. The standard postpartum visit has traditionally been a single visit. This visit was typically scheduled 6 weeks after birth. Currently, as many as 40% of women do not attend a postpartum visit (3). There are several barriers for women who seek postpartum services, including lack of child care, inability to get an appointment, mistrust of health care providers, and limited understanding of the value of the visit (4). These barriers are even more challenging for low-resource populations. More than one half of U.S. women receive prenatal care through Medicaid, and in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, women lose insurance coverage by 60 days after birth. Optimal postpartum care provides an opportunity to promote overall health and well-being. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that postpartum care should be an ongoing process, rather than a single encounter, with services and support tailored to each woman’s individual needs. The ACOG Postpartum Care Toolkit includes resources on the key components of postpartum care such as long-term weight management, pregnancy complications, and reproductive life-planning to support adoption and implementation of improved postpartum care.

Find information on postpartum depression and complications, and a postpartum follow-up checklist for patients.

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