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Committee Opinion No. 666: Optimizing Postpartum Care

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Abstract

In the weeks after birth, postpartum care often is fragmented among maternal and pediatric health care providers, and communication between inpatient and outpatient settings is inconsistent. To optimize postpartum care, anticipatory guidance should begin during pregnancy. During antenatal care, it is recommended that the patient and her obstetrician–gynecologist or other obstetric care provider formulate a postpartum care plan and identify the health care professionals who will comprise the postpartum care team for the woman and her infant. Ideally, during the postpartum period, a single health care practice assumes responsibility for coordinating the woman’s care. At discharge from maternity care, the woman should receive contact information for her postpartum care team and written instructions regarding the timing of follow-up postpartum care. It is recommended that all women undergo a comprehensive postpartum visit within the first 6 weeks after birth. This visit should include a full assessment of physical, social, and psychological well-being. Systems should be implemented to ensure each woman can receive her desired form of contraception during the comprehensive postpartum visit, if not done earlier. At the conclusion of the postpartum visit, the woman and her obstetrician–gynecologist or other obstetric care provider should determine who will assume primary responsibility for her ongoing care. If responsibility is transferred to another primary care provider, the obstetrician–gynecologist or other obstetric care provider is responsible for ensuring that there is communication with the primary care provider so that he or she can understand the implications of any pregnancy complications for the woman’s future health and maintain continuity of care.

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