Not only are you recovering from perhaps the most intense thing your body will ever experience, but you’re dealing with a demanding newborn who also has doctor appointments to keep. This is tricky business considering most new moms consider taking a shower a huge triumph.
That’s the first thing I thought of when I read a new report that says fewer than half of the women in the study showed up for the recommended postpartum checkup in the first three months after giving birth.
The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine at the end of January, looked at women in the Maryland area who received health insurance from Medicaid and private health insurance. The Huffington Post breaks down the numbers:
“Among the women with Medicaid, 65 percent with pregnancies complicated by gestational diabetes or blood pressure issues went to a postpartum obstetric visit within three months, compared to 61.5 percent of women without those complications… The numbers were lower among women with private insurance: Just under 51 percent of those with complicated pregnancies attended a postpartum checkup, while only 44.6 percent without complications did. In addition, 56.6 percent of Medicaid patients with complicated pregnancies and 51.7 percent of those with no complications saw a primary care physician within a year of giving birth. Among women with private insurance, 60 percent with complicated pregnancies saw a primary care doctor within a year, while 49.6 percent with no complications did.”
I can’t say I’m surprised. Women are advised to see a professional within four to six weeks after delivery — arguably THE most overwhelming time in a new mom’s life. If I had no complications and felt like I was healing up nicely, my focus would be on the baby, not myself. Quite frankly, I was tired of my lady business being the focus of so much attention and just wanted to be left alone. Sure, if I felt like I had some issues that needed looking into, I’d be all about a doctor visit. But the trauma of preparing myself and my baby to go to the doctor, actually packing up the car and making the journey… eh.
But Dr. Wendy Bennett tells The Huffington Post that’s the big mistake a lot of women make. “It’s really important that women check in somewhere after delivery, whether it’s with someone doing home visits for their baby, if that person is equipped to talk about mom’s health, or a community health center setting.”
Maybe that’s the problem: Mom has to check in somewhere, and doctors don’t make house calls anymore. Maybe, for just that one postpartum visit, doctors could do some home visits. This time around I’ll benefit from having a midwife who will come to my house — to my very own bed — to check that I’m healing properly. Yay for midwives and house calls!
Read more from Monica and her husband Serge on Babble: