(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.”