Haywood Brown, MD, immediate past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology (ACOG), discusses the importance of postpartum follow up, and the reasoning behind ACOG's recently revised committee opinion.
ACOG recently released a revised committee opinion that proposes a new paradigm for postpartum care. What is the reason for this change?
Well this is something I’ve thought about for over a decade now— how we can improve the outcomes of women through postpartum follow up. And we’ve been stuck in the 6 weeks paradigm since the beginning of time, it seems. But really, it’s about seeing women when they need to be seen.
It’s very difficult to screen for postpartum depression if you don’t do it early. It’s very difficult to counsel women on breast feeding continuation if you don’t do it early. But once pregnancy complications occur— whether they be having a preterm baby or preeclampsia– the whole postpartum follow up really changes. The idea behind having an early visit and a later visit is so that you can discuss reproductive life planning and long-term health risks during that time period, over that 12 weeks.
Our whole objective is to do a better job with education of the patients, but also with the providers on the importance of postpartum follow up, and also guiding the principles for long-term health. That’s really the reason for the change, and that’s the reason that we proposed this for one of our task forces.