Postpartum Visits

This section is organized by the timing of the contact with the health care provider and by the woman's lactation status (whether she is breastfeeding or not). It focuses on the woman, not the baby. Ideally, contacts with the mother occur during hospitalization after delivery, within a few days after discharge (a telephone or home visit), at early pediatric visits, and at the visit 4 to 6 weeks post partum. It is highly desirable for all women, regardless of their breastfeeding status, to strive for a healthful diet to replenish nutrient stores and maintain health.

Breastfeeding is the recommended feeding method for infants under ordinary circumstances. Therefore, the establishment of lactation and maintenance of successful breastfeeding are nutritionally relevant to both the mother and her infant. This section includes basic information about breastfeeding. For more detailed sources of information, see Tab 10.

Beginning at delivery and during the first 2 weeks afterward, the nutritional focus of the visits is to establish successful breastfeeding and provide dietary guidance. Support services for breastfeeding mothers should be provided in the hospital. (Short, well-targeted videotapes can be effective and efficient as a part of such an effort.) An early office visit, a visit to the home by a trained health professional, or telephone counseling is often advisable for breastfeeding women.

Later, more attention is directed toward the mother's concerns about the adequacy of her milk supply, healthful weight loss strategies, her return to work or school, and birth control. During follow-up health maintenance visits for the infant and at the postpartum visit for the mother, the health care provider can help to maintain or improve the breastfeeding experience.

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