sunrise-over-mountains sunrise-over-mountains_mobile

Take Care of Yourself After Having a Baby with Postpartum Care

Take Care of Yourself After Having a Baby with Postpartum Care



The time after the birth of your baby can be exhilarating and joyous. It’s also a time of physical, mental, and emotional changes that can be hard to navigate, especially with a lack of sleep.

A new baby needs an incredible amount of care and attention, but it’s important to take care of your own health, too. That’s why it’s vital to see your maternal care provider for regular postpartum care.

What is Postpartum Care, and Why is it Important?

The weeks following the birth of a baby, often called the fourth trimester, are a critical time for creating a foundation of long-term health and well-being. Pregnancy and birth take an emotional and physical toll on a new mom, and postpartum care can help identify any serious or urgent medical issues that may arise. Without postpartum care, managing chronic health conditions and gaining access to contraception can be delayed, which can increase your risk of becoming pregnant before your body has fully recovered. Getting pregnant before your body has healed from the last pregnancy can put you at higher risk for preterm birth. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 40 percent of women who give birth don’t seek postpartum care afterward.

ACOG recommends new mothers see their OB-GYN or other obstetric care provider no later than three weeks after delivery, with ongoing care as needed and a comprehensive postpartum visit no later than 12 weeks following birth. Postpartum care visits allow your provider to assess your physical, social, and mental well-being. This can include discussing:

  • Your emotional well-being
  • How you are caring for and feeding your new baby
  • Methods of birth control
  • Your sleep and fatigue levels
  • Your physical recovery from birth
  • Chronic disease management, including the importance of following up with your primary care provider or obstetrician for ongoing care

Some women experience complications during pregnancy or birth, including gestational diabetes, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, or preterm birth. These factors can lead to a risk of maternal cardiometabolic disease, such as heart disease or stroke. You should discuss management of these risks with your provider if you experienced any complications with your pregnancy.

Watch for Urgent Maternal Warning Signs and Postpartum Depression

It’s normal to feel tired, have some pain, and experience “baby blues” after you go through labor, but it’s important to watch for signs of more serious health problems – some can happen up to one year after giving birth.

Baby blues can present as feelings of sadness, anxiousness, or anger, and they come and go within the first few days after birth. Postpartum depression is a common but serious mental illness that is triggered by hormonal changes. This illness can affect your ability to care for yourself and your baby. One in every nine new mothers experiences postpartum depression, and it doesn’t go away on its own. It’s so important to talk to your doctor if you feel empty, sad, or hopeless for longer than two weeks, if you find yourself struggling to feel connected to your baby, or if you are having thoughts about harming yourself or your baby. Watch for these urgent warning symptoms of potential serious health issues in addition to being aware of signs of postpartum depression:

  • Severe headaches
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Changes in your vision
  • Fever
  • Trouble breathing
  • Overwhelming tiredness
  • Chest pain
  • Severe belly pain
  • Severe nausea and throwing up
  • Severe swelling

You know your body best. Talk to your provider if you experience anything that doesn’t feel right or normal to you