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Health news and blog

    Women's health

    Learn the importance of a postpartum checkup

    The “fourth trimester” appointment is for staying connected and addressing concerns 


    The journey of new motherhood extends far beyond the delivery room. As you cradle your newborn in your arms, you enter what is often called the fourth trimester—an essential period of postpartum recovery and adjustment.

    "We know that the fourth trimester is a sacred and transformative time, where the delicate dance of mother and baby truly begins," shared Megan Bristol a certified nurse midwife with St. James Hospital. "Many women experience a range of emotions, including happiness, anxiety, sadness, and fatigue, commonly known as the 'baby blues.' Addressing maternal mental health needs during the fourth trimester is essential to prevent and manage postpartum depression and support maternal well-being."

    In a recent KUTV appearance, Hollie Wharton, a certified nurse midwife and nurse practitioner at Intermountain Health Alta View Hospital, dove into the significance of postpartum check-ups.

    What does the fourth trimester entail?

    The fourth trimester, often overlooked, extends beyond childbirth and delves into the critical postpartum period. This phase, marked by hormonal fluctuations and adjustments to new family dynamics, requires special attention to both physical and mental well-being.

    "Coming in for your postpartum checkup is very important to make sure your body is healing, physically and also mentally,” said Hollie.

    How do I approach the fourth trimester?

    Navigating the challenges of the fourth trimester involves self-care and understanding the importance of mental health. This period is a delicate phase for mental health, with risks of postpartum depression and anxiety. Even moms with no history of mental health problems can be affected.

    "Postpartum depression and anxiety can be very scary, and patients may not know it’s happening,” said Hollie.

    Recognizing the signs and seeking support from healthcare providers can make a significant difference in a mother's well-being. Hollie also emphasized building your support community.

    “It takes a village to take care of a child and newly delivered mother,” said Hollie. “Set up a break for a couple of hours at least every two weeks for self-care, or to do whatever heals you.”

    This support system can also help with a postpartum essential: getting enough sleep.

    “I tell moms they will be more resilient if they are getting enough sleep,” said Hollie. “It’s important to sneak some naps in during the day while the baby is sleeping.”

    Why are postpartum check-ups important?

    Postpartum check-ups serve as a crucial bridge between new mothers and healthcare providers. One to two postpartum visits are recommended and are often covered by insurance as maternity care.

    These check-ups offer a platform to discuss physical healing, mental health, and any challenges faced during the fourth trimester. It's the first step in uncovering potential issues and ensuring a healthy recovery.

    “We are often a woman’s primary care provider, so women feel comfortable talking with us about their concerns,” said Hollie. “But if you don’t come in, we don’t know what’s going on.”

    Leverage the strong relationship forged with your healthcare provider during pregnancy. Postpartum check-ups become a cornerstone for staying connected and addressing concerns.

    And remember – the fourth trimester is not just an extension of pregnancy. It's a phase of transformation, resilience, and the beginning of a beautiful new chapter.

    To learn more about the fourth trimester, contact a qualified Intermountain Health caregiver, such as Hollie Wharton. Find out more about postpartum self-care here

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    Learn the importance of a postpartum checkup