Moms spend months taking care of themselves and their health before baby arrives (as they should!), but once that adorable little bundle is here, mothers quickly fall to the bottom of their own priority list. We know all about the three trimesters that make up a pregnancy, but what about the lesser known “fourth trimester.” The final quarter isn’t talked about nearly as much as it should be, and it shows. More than a quarter of women don’t have a plan for managing their own health after baby is born, a new study from Orlando Health reveals.
It’s not that moms are oblivious to their health, but they’re more focussed on staying on top of baby’s health and development. While 63 percent of women say they are equally concerned with their health as they are with baby’s, 37 percent of moms ages 18 to 34 don’t have a plan for taking care of themselves after their child is born.
“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,” says Megan Gray, MD, an OB/GYN at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. “Seeing your doctor within a few weeks of delivery and sharing any concerns is critical to getting the care and treatment you need.
The lack of planning has serious side effects. As a result, more than 40 percent of women say they feel depressed, overwhelmed and anxious. Making matters worse, 37 percent of women feel embarrassed by the changes their bodies are going through. Leaking pee, vaginal dryness, leaky boobs, stretch marks—you name the postpartum change and we’ll guarantee nearly every mom has gone through it. You shouldn’t be ashamed of the transformations your body is going through, it’s completely natural.
Researchers hope moms and doctors will walk away with a few takeaways from the study. For starters, healthcare professionals need to do more to inform and prepare moms for postpartum life, and mothers have to learn to make their wellbeing a priority too.
“There is no such thing as the perfect mom, and you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself,” says 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.”