Survey Finds New Moms Often Overlook their Own Health After Delivery

Health care for physical and emotional concerns is crucial during the “fourth trimester”

(ORLANDO, Florida) – A new mom’s world is forever changed when her baby arrives. Priorities often shift from themselves to their children, and their own health can fall to the bottom of their to-do lists during the months after delivery, known as the fourth trimester. A new national survey by Orlando Health found more than a quarter of women did not have a plan to manage their health during this time, while more than 40 percent say they felt anxious, overwhelmed or depressed.

    “The fourth trimester is difficult to prepare for until you actually experience it,” said Megan Gray, MD, an OB/GYN at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. “Women should follow up with their doctor within a few weeks of delivery and talk about any physical or emotional challenges.”

   Dr. Gray acknowledges that finding the time to take care of yourself can be difficult with a newborn at home, but it is vital to identifying and treating issues like abnormal bleeding, trouble breastfeeding or postpartum anxiety. “Sometimes new moms just need some reassurance that what they’re going through is normal, and sometimes they may require additional treatment,” said Gray. “But having that open dialogue with your doctor and being honest about your concerns will help you get through this challenging time.”

    Doctors at Orlando Health are working to better inform and prepare women for the fourth trimester during pregnancy and say sometimes the best thing new moms can do is give themselves a break. “There is no such thing as the perfect mom, and you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself,” said Gray. “In order to take the best care of your baby, you have to take care of yourself, whether that is seeing your doctor, setting aside a couple of hours for yourself or simply asking for help.”

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Rachael Kobb holds her son, Levon. She says she felt unprepared for some of the physical and emotional challenges of being a new mom, but seeking help from her doctor made all the difference.

Dr. Megan Gray (left) talks with Rachael Kobb during a postpartum follow-up appointment at Orlando Health. In the months after delivery, moms are often too busy or overwhelmed to prioritize their own health concerns, but it’s important to identify and treat postpartum issues.

Rachael Kobb struggled with breastfeeding and postpartum anxiety after having her first child and says talking through the issues with her doctor helped her realize she wasn’t alone.

Dr. Megan Gray speaks with a new mom during a postpartum appointment. A new survey by Orlando Health found women often overlook their own health after their baby is born, yet many struggle with postpartum issues.

Rachael Kobb takes a walk with her four-month-old son. She says she felt unprepared for the challenges of the “fourth trimester” and struggled with postpartum anxiety, but that carving out time to take care of herself helped.