Doctors warn new mothers of ‘fourth trimester’


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The assumption is that the birthing process reaches its finality after the baby is born. Doctors, however, say a “fourth trimester” can carry over medical issues to new mothers for an additional three months.

After the birth of her daughter, Katie Walters was facing postpartum anxiety.

“The logistics of having a newborn, I felt like I understood but I just couldn’t with the emotions and the exhaustion and just the pressure that was felt. To just feel that connection to her,” Walters said.

Katie turned to the New Moms Support Group at UPMC Pinnacle to help guide her through her new adjustment.

“Once a patient delivers, it doesn’t mean that her care is done,” said Dr. Kenneth Oken, chair of the obstetrics and gynecology department at UPMC Pinnacle. “A lot of what happens and the changes that occur with a woman’s body after they have a baby can lead to complications if you’re not looking for things.”

According to the CDC, Pennsylvania ranked 21 in the nation in maternal death rates. Oken says during the “fourth trimester,” women are at a higher risk for developing diabetes and having complications from high blood pressure.

He says it’s important to make healthcare providers aware of a recent birth.

“Sometimes other healthcare providers don’t know some of these conditions, so if you would show up at an Urgent Care or the emergency room with a pain in your calf or short of breath, you’re at a much higher risk for a blood clot or cardiac condition because you just had a baby,” Oken said.

New mothers typically see their ob-gyn six to eight weeks after delivery, but Oken encourages patients to schedule a follow-up visit a week or two after a birth to monitor how things are going.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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