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What is Fourth Trimester Care?

The 12 week period after a child is born is known as the "4th trimester." The 4th trimester is a critical period for new parents and their newborns. The delivering parent has gone through enormous physiologic change through pregnancy and birth, their partner is adjusting to taking on new support and parenting roles, and the newborn is adjusting to life outside the womb. This period can be a beautiful bonding experience as a new family is born, but often comes with a lot of challenges. In our modern society we are often removed from the "village" of support that we as humans depend on, which makes this period even more challenging.

The healthcare system in the United States is notoriously bad at providing adequate postpartum support for new parents and their babies. Our maternal and infant mortality rates lag behind those of other developed countries. In Texas especially, many women lack insurance coverage and do not qualify for Medicaid until they are pregnant, delaying their entry to care. Medicaid coverage is lost shortly after delivery, limiting access to follow-up care in the postpartum period. Even with insurance coverage, access to postpartum care that addresses the many issues that women experience after giving birth is lacking. Screening and follow-up care for postpartum depression and anxiety disorders, delivery complications, breastfeeding difficulties, gestational diabetes, and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are vital, but are often missed in the short 10-15 minute postpartum visit that women receive 6 weeks after delivery. Even worse, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology estimates that up to 40% of women do not manage to attend their postpartum visit.

At Vida Family Medicine, we believe that the health of parents and their children is the foundation of a happy, thriving family. We take a holistic approach to 4th trimester care that addresses the needs of the entire family. Our 4th trimester package includes a prenatal consultation to help prepare parents for life after their newborn arrives, and provides our patients with postpartum visits in their own home as well as virtual visits and text message communication directly with the doctor to limit barriers to attending appointments. We listen to your birth story, the struggles you are experiencing as new parents, and assess the mother, newborn, and family situation as a whole. We spend time (at least one hour per visit) ensuring that all medical, psychological, and social needs are assessed. As a family medicine physician with extensive training in the care of adults, children, and obstetrics, as well as a mother of two children, Dr. Berens has the expertise and experience to address the needs of both parents and child. For any needs or questions that come up between visits, she is just a text or phone call away. After the 4th trimester period ends, she can continue to provide exceptional primary care through our direct primary care membership program.

It is our mission to improve maternal-child health outcomes and support families through the 4th trimester and beyond. If you would like to learn more about our membership, visit our website here or contact us.

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