doctor helping delivery

How to Create Better Postnatal Care in the US

Postpartum care is one area the US underappreciates in healthcare. New mothers and their newborns are our most vulnerable citizens, and giving them the proper care to allow them to flourish is crucial, but when it comes to postnatal care, the US is surpassed by many other countries. However, the US can improve postnatal care by learning from different countries and their postnatal centers.

How Postpartum Care Is Lacking In The US

When we speak about and to pregnant women, using trimesters as a time measurement is common. The first trimester is traditionally the time before we announce to the world we’re expecting, the second trimester is when we see the baby growing and visit our doctor often, and the third trimester is the final sprint to the big event. While this is easy for us as a culture to understand where we are in our pregnancy, it neglects a crucial aspect of birth; the postpartum period.

The term “The Fourth Trimester” has been coined to refer to the time immediately following birth. Experts say the average time women are considered to require postpartum care in some way or another is 40 days, although, in some cultures, this is longer.

Referring to the postpartum period as a trimester helps re-orient this period as a crucial step in the pregnancy process. Without this distinction, it’s been all too easy for society to forget about new mothers after delivery ostensibly.

Mothers are given constant attention in the nine months preceding labor. An extra seat on the subway, advice, and smiles, requests to feel the baby kick. Baby showers, classes and books, and so many doctor’s visits, it feels like your doctor is your best friend.

But, then, the scary and painful part comes, and the baby is here, and suddenly new mothers feel adrift or like there’s very little assistance. Moreover, most mothers are discharged within 48 hours of giving birth, which leaves little time to recuperate, let alone learn crucial skills or bond with their child.

But, then, the scary and painful part comes, and the baby is here, and suddenly new mothers feel adrift or like there’s very little assistance. Moreover, most mothers are discharged within 48 hours of giving birth, which leaves little time to recuperate, let alone learn crucial skills or bond with their child.

Poor Postpartum Care Can Exacerbate Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a long-lasting form of depression that is a complication of giving birth. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 mothers in the US experience PPD, meaning a third of the women who give birth are struck with a long-lasting depression.

Often mistaken for “Baby Blues,” a common side effect of the rush of hormones and emotions during labor, PPD has more intense symptoms that last much longer and can even begin before delivery.

Symptoms include:


  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty bonding with baby
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Fear they’re not a good mother
  • Excessive crying
  • Restricted ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Difficulty in sleeping (insomnia) or sleeping more than normal
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Lack of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Diminished interest and pleasure in activities they used to enjoy
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
  • Thoughts of harming self or baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Postpartum depression doesn’t have defined environmental triggers, but studies have found that empowering and supporting mothers has lessened the prevalence of PPD. Many mothers have reported that feeling as though they don’t know how to care for their child, especially concerning breastfeeding, has significantly contributed to their PPD symptoms and struggles. They often feel that if they were taught and supported more, they might be able to combat these feelings better.

Poor Postnatal Care Leads to Breastfeeding Struggles

Breastfeeding issues afflict many new mothers in the US. Whether they don’t have accurate information about what to do, their child has difficulty latching, or their supply hasn’t come in yet, learning to breastfeed can be stressful or scary.

Postpartum care in the maternity ward doesn’t focus on breastfeeding for an extended period. Even if they had the resources and postpartum professionals to do so, they wouldn’t have enough time to teach, coach properly, and encourage a new mother through the various hurdles associated with breastfeeding.

In turn, more than half of new mothers give up on breastfeeding within three months of giving birth, keeping them and their children from experiencing the full benefits of breastfeeding.

How New Zealand Is Empowering Postpartum Recovery

New Zealand has local birth centers for postpartum care three days after birth. So no matter where a mother gives birth (at home with a doula, at a birth center, or in a hospital), they can check in for 24-hour assistance from postpartum doulas, night nurses, and other health professionals.

The hands-on, intimate attention available at these postnatal centers allows new mothers to bond with their babies and receive expert advice from professionals.

New Zealand’s postpartum facility network allows new mothers the space and time to access professionals who can assist with breastfeeding worries as long as needed. This takes a significant source of stress away from mom and baby and provides a better chance of breastfeeding long-term.

Postpartum hotels also offer a chance to recover from the trauma of childbirth in a calm, relaxing environment. For mothers with one or more little ones already at home, an after-delivery hotel offers three days of relaxation where they can focus on recovery and bonding. Rather than jumping straight into household duties and child-rearing, mothers can enjoy three days with their new baby, allowing their bodies time to heal from childbirth.

New Zealand’s after-delivery baby care model has been celebrated as a model that other countries can use to improve their postpartum care. By integrating postpartum facilities into New Zealand’s healthcare, they’ve been able to support and empower their new mothers.

New Zealand has a postpartum depression rate of 8-13%, meaning at most 13% of their mothers experience symptoms of postpartum depression. That slashes America’s rate of PPD in half.

What Is A Postpartum Retreat?

Offering care from qualified, professional doulas, postpartum retreats offer after-delivery baby care for mother and baby. These postnatal hotels provide what some have called “the last vacation you’ll get before the realities of child-rearing,” giving mothers the time to heal from labor, learn essential skills under watchful eyes, and connect with their newborns.

Choose to stay 3, 5, or 7 nights in a tranquil, well-appointed location with guidance and education from professionals who have been here before and have the know-how to help. With nourishing meals specially designed for post-labor and breastfeeding mothers, helpful staff, and a 24-hour baby room, postnatal centers will set you and your child up for success.

After delivery hotels also understand mothers’ struggles, so they offer lactation and feeding support to help you and your child be nourished and happy.

Postnatal Centers Are The Future Of Postpartum Care

America has many technological and medical advances, including spending the most on healthcare per person. However, countries like South Korea, Taiwan, and New Zealand have surpassed us by acknowledging that the needs of mom and baby don’t end at birth. These countries have extended support to the fourth trimester by offering postnatal support from postpartum hotels.

The US can follow suit by normalizing and expanding postnatal centers. Although there are several in the US, they are not widespread or normalized enough to allow more mothers to take advantage of postpartum care benefits.

Mothers and their children can heal and recover from labor and delivery by prioritizing postpartum care. Some women take years to recover from birth fully, and some find the experience stressful or traumatizing. Giving mom and baby quiet, dedicated, assisted time together helps them recover faster and happier.