We Need Better Follow-up Care for New Mothers

We Need Better Follow-up Care for New Mothers Having a baby is a miraculous and joyful event. However, lack of sleep, fatigue, breastfeeding difficulties, stress, new or aggravated emotional disorders, and urinary incontinence are often also present and must be addressed. Postpartum care for women and infants—with services and support fitted to each mother’s individual needs—is essential for the welfare of the family.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one-third of women and babies around the world do not receive postpartum care in the first days after birth. In the U.S., approximately 20 percent of moms skip or delay postnatal care in the year after giving birth. Why is postpartum care being avoided, overlooked, or not provided?

Why is follow-up care for new moms so important?

The weeks after birth are a crucial time for both new moms and babies, paving the way for lifelong health and well-being. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), all new mothers should have follow-up care with a healthcare provider within three weeks postpartum. This care should include an initial assessment, ongoing care as needed, and a comprehensive postpartum visit within three months. Here are some of the critical components that should be addressed:

  • Physical recovery. New moms need time to recover physically after childbirth. Follow-up care allows their doctors to monitor the healing of any incisions or tears and check for signs of infection and other complications.
  • Postpartum complications. Postpartum depression, eclampsia, hemorrhaging, infections, mastitis, preeclampsia, urinary incontinence, and other complications can arise, and regular follow-up appointments are necessary to identify and address these issues as soon as possible.
  • Negative outcomes. When a woman experiences miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death, she must receive follow-up care to address the physical and emotional ramifications.
  • Breastfeeding support. Healthcare providers are qualified to provide guidance and support on breastfeeding techniques to help ensure that the mother and the baby adjust well to breastfeeding.
  • Mental health support. According to the March of Dimes, postpartum depression (PPD) affects up to one in seven new mothers, half of whom have never been depressed before. Regular follow-up appointments allow healthcare providers to assess the mental health of the mother and recommend counseling, medication, or referrals to specialists.
  • Monitor baby’s health. Follow-up care is not just for new moms—it is also done to evaluate the health and development of newborn babies. These appointments help track the baby’s growth, address any feeding or sleeping concerns, and provide other necessary guidance.
  • Contraceptive counseling. Women who resume sexual activity after childbirth often need advice about contraception options. Follow-up care allows healthcare providers to help them choose a suitable method.
  • Education and support. As new babies grow, mothers frequently have questions or concerns about infant care and parenting. Follow-up appointments allow providers to educate, reassure, and support new moms during the postpartum period and beyond.

Follow-up care plays a critical role in ensuring the physical and emotional well-being of both the mother and baby during the postpartum period. It enables healthcare providers to address any issues that may arise, provide support and guidance, and promote a smooth transition to motherhood.

What is postpartum negligence?

Mothers and newborn babies must receive adequate care during the postpartum period or the result could be serious illness or injury. If a doctor fails to properly administer postnatal care to a mother or child in the days, weeks, or months following birth, this lack of care could lead to a postpartum negligence lawsuit. Some examples of lack of postpartum care include the failure to:

  • Accurately gauge blood loss
  • Admit the mother and child to the ICU if necessary
  • Closely oversee the mother and the child after the birth
  • Diagnose and monitor changes in blood pressure
  • Keep the mother and child in the hospital long enough, causing injury
  • Properly handle babies during and after delivery
  • Neglect to obtain consent for vaginal repair after childbirth
  • Order additional testing when needed
  • Properly recognize distress in the mother or child
  • Recognize, treat, and prevent infections
  • Update charts and electronic health records (EHR)

Newborns should also be tested for signs of birth injuries that might leave them with pain and costly, permanent disabilities. In addition to signs of respiratory distress or jaundice, newborns should be tested for:

  • Adverse reactions to antibiotics given to the mother during pregnancy or delivery
  • Nerve damage
  • High or low heart rates
  • Infections transmitted from mother to child
  • Abnormal Apgar scores
  • Skull fracture (if forceps or a vacuum extractor was used during labor)

The failure to diagnose and treat these and other conditions could lead to lifelong complications like developmental delays or the tragic death of a child. If you or your child did not receive adequate postpartum care and this neglect led to injury, you could be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to hold the liable parties accountable.

D.C. programs committed to caring for new mothers and babies

Washington, D.C. has some of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the United States – but there are groups trying to end this trend.

DC Safe Babies Safe Moms strives to prioritize families throughout the D.C. region before, during, and after pregnancy until the child turns three. Services that the program provides to families include:

  • Prenatal and postpartum care
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Social Determinants of Health screening
  • Behavioral Health screening
  • Social services
  • Legal services

The goal of DC Safe Babies Safe Moms is to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates in the D.C. area—regardless of race or neighborhood—by 25 percent by 2025.

Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through this contact form or by calling our office.