Group will support new moms as they navigate the ‘4th trimester’
We recently connected with Diana Frankenburger, RN, prenatal education coordinator at UK HealthCare. She is one of the facilitators of a virtual “4th Trimester Support Group” for new moms navigating the joys and challenges of motherhood in the first few months after childbirth. This new weekly group, which launches April 28, 2022, is free and will meet from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. Thursdays via Zoom. Here, she answers questions about the group and how it can benefit new moms.
What is the “fourth trimester” for new moms?
The fourth trimester is that three-month period after baby is born. Following delivery, both mom and baby go through an adjustment period physically, psychologically and emotionally. This period sets the stage for future adjustment, bonding and health for moms, babies and families (ACOG, 2018). Mom is learning how to care for a newborn, or how to manage care of the newborn along with caring for older children. Sleep deprivation, exhaustion, physical discomforts from giving birth, stress and breastfeeding challenges are just some of the issues during this time. Changing roles for everyone in the household requires open communication and can cause relationship tensions.
What topics will be covered in the 4th trimester support group?
We will cover topics that participants want to cover. These will likely include how to get rest, breastfeeding or feeding support, emotional challenges, relationship and role adjustments, and developing a support system.
Why was this support group created? Why is it important to our patients?
This group was created to help participants recognize they are not alone in the struggles of those first few weeks and give them a platform to meet other women experiencing these same issues and emotions. During their prenatal period, women have many appointments, and weekly visits to the OB provider are common the last month of pregnancy. But once childbirth takes place, women may not have contact with their provider again for six weeks. In fact, 40 percent of women do not return for a postpartum visit (ACOG, 2018). All the challenges of this important time are managed alone, or with support from family nearby for those who are fortunate enough to have that. Our lifestyle today often takes us far from family or close friends when we need that village around us most.
As UK HealthCare’s childbirth educator, I’ve tried to prepare women and their partners for this period through information in classes. But women have shared many times that they wished there was something like a support group to join following birth. We hope this group helps meet this need.
Who can attend the support group? Do you have to be a UK HealthCare patient?
Any new mom can attend the support group. We are especially interested in helping women through those first few weeks postpartum. Women may attend for as long as they like. You do not have to be a UK HealthCare patient to participate.
What makes this support group different from other groups/classes moms-to-be may have attended while they were pregnant?
This group will not have the set educational agenda that our other classes have. We will allow women to suggest topics they wish to discuss and address concerns they are having. I will always have topics ready to stimulate the conversation, but we want this group to allow women an opportunity to communicate with other new moms who are experiencing many of the same struggles. Some women may be further along in their postpartum journey and have suggestions or ideas to share. This group will have a more fluid structure, but we also want to be able to answer questions and be sure women receive sound and appropriate suggestions.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I will be joined in facilitating the group by Aubrey Jones, PhD., assistant professor in UK’s College of Social Work. Participants will be asked to answer a short survey at the beginning of their attendance and again at about six weeks into their group participation. This will help us determine the usefulness of the group and may provide moms with personal insight as they navigate the postpartum period.
How can someone register for this support group?
Women may register through UK HealthCare’s website by visiting the Childbirth Education Classes page. They may also contact me directly at email@example.com. Once women have registered initially, they will not have to register again for each group. They will use the Zoom link provided when they sign up.
ACOG Committee Opinion No.736(2018). Optimizing Postpartum Care, Obstetrics and Gynecology,131:5. Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2018/05/optimizing-postpartum-care