Postpartum care is crucial during the “fourth trimester,” advise health experts
12/17/2019 // Grace Olson // Views

After giving birth, a mother shifts all attention to her baby, often forgetting herself in the process. However, this may have adverse effects on her mental and physical health. A recent survey conducted by the Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Florida found that 40 percent of mothers had trouble coping in the three months after giving birth.

Megan Gray, a gynecologist at Orlando Health, pointed out: “The fourth trimester can be difficult and overwhelming for women as their bodies go through physical and emotional changes, and this time deserves the same support and attention as the first three trimesters.”

Expecting mothers often forget about postpartum care, focusing on the first three trimesters of pregnancy instead. The survey sheds light on how the so-called “fourth trimester” is also important to prepare for – not only for the babies will be born but for expectant mothers as well.

What happens after birth?

The fourth trimester is a crucial time for a baby and his or her new mother. This is when the baby adjusts to the outside world. Meanwhile, the mother adjusts to a new addition to her world. Without proper care and support, new mothers can feel troubled as they adjust not just to the baby but to changes in her body as well.

A new mother usually experiences the following after giving birth:

  • Increased breast size
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Uterine pain
  • Vaginal discharge

Moreover, a mother recovering from labor or surgery can also be prone to postpartum feelings, which include:


  • Sadness
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Mood changes
  • Unexplained crying

Experiencing all of these changes, it's no wonder that many women report feeling anxious, overwhelmed and depressed – according to the Orlando Health survey.

The fourth trimester is also important

The survey gathered information from 1,200 women, 900 of which are mothers. The results revealed the following information:

  • Compared to women over 45, those under 45 were more likely to report feeling anxious or depressed after giving birth.
  • Around 37 percent of the participants admitted that they felt embarrassed about how their bodies changed after birth.
  • Even though 67 percent of the women said that they were also concerned about their health, only 26 percent had concrete plans for managing their health after delivery. The number increases to 37 percent among women who were 18 to 34 years old.

Some mothers reported feeling selfish if they did not give all their time and attention to their babies.

However, Gray says otherwise. New mothers also need to take care of themselves, so that they can properly take care of their babies. It would not benefit anyone if the mother becomes sick or develop mental health problems. A baby is a lot of work, and a new mother needs to keep healthy – both physically and mentally. Therefore, expecting mothers should prepare a plan for their fourth trimester as well.

Postpartum care for new mothers

It is normal if a woman feels sick or anxious after giving birth, she adds. It gets better as the woman adjusts to her new life. However, she needs a lot of care to come out healthy and strong by the end of the fourth trimester. Here are some tips for postpartum care:

  • Consult with your healthcare professional. If there are any unusual changes or bodily symptoms, it is best to ask a healthcare professional. He or she would have a better understanding of the changes, whether these are normal or unusual, or which would require further investigation.
  • Look for support. Talk to a partner, friends and family, particularly fellow mothers. They can give insight into what a new mother is experiencing and offer comfort and support.
  • Get healthy. While adjusting to a new life, pick up new, healthier habits as well. These include getting enough sleep, taking time to exercise and eating more vegetables. A healthy body would serve her well while raising a new baby. (Related: Breastmilk: The gift that keeps on giving… Babies who were exclusively breastfed have less than half the risk of eczema as teenagers than those that were not.)

Having a baby is difficult, and it affects a mother’s health in many ways. However, the baby should not be the cause of a mother’s health problems. In fact, a new child should become her motivation to strive for a healthier lifestyle.

Learn more about staying healthy during pregnancy at

Sources include:

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