Kidcast explores health risks in the ‘fourth trimester’ of motherhood

Women often think pregnancy issues end when her baby arrives, but that’s not the case.  In this Kidcast, Dr. Hyagriv Simhan from UPMC Magee Womens Hospital tells KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen there’s a so-called “Fourth Trimester” that’s important for women to know about. Here’s their edited conversation.

Kristine Sorensen: What is the “fourth trimester”?

Dr. Hyagriv Simhan: Most women are aware that pregnancy has three trimesters, divided into thirds. The “fourth trimester” is a term that we developed to talk about the year postpartum. While most people think pregnancy ends with the birth of their child, we know that in the year postpartum, there are very important medical and physical changes that women have that can bode well for them in the future, but can also raise medical complications and risks for them. We want to emphasize the importance of a woman’s own health after pregnancy, and that’s what the fourth trimester is — that year after pregnancy.

Kristine Sorensen: What kinds of risks could happen during that time?

Dr. Hyagriv Simhan: In the fourth trimester and the year postpartum, women are at risk for developing diabetes, developing high blood pressure and complications from high blood pressure, even things as serious as heart attacks and strokes. Women can develop mood disorders like depression, and for women who have had depression before delivery, that depression can get worse. Those are some of the more complicated and more common factors that happen after delivery.

Kristine Sorensen: So if a woman seeing a doctor and it’s not her ob/gyn, the doctor might not even realize that she just delivered a baby and a potential health problem may be related to that, right?

Dr. Hyagriv Simhan: I think that’s a really important point. Women will deliver a baby and then feel like that episode of her life is over. She may go to an emergency department or a primary care doctor, and unless that whole group is aware that she had a baby in the last year, they might not even take that into account. So it’s important for women, themselves, to make their providers aware of the recent birth of her child.

Kristine Sorensen: That’s where these bracelets come in. You are giving them out to women who deliver at Magee.

Dr. Hyagriv Simhan: That’s right. They are intended for a woman to have as a reminder to herself to tell her healthcare providers about her recent birth