Skip to main content

For decades, the US has prioritized babies’ well-being and treated new mothers’ health as an afterthought. “There is a fourth trimester to pregnancy, and we neglect it at our peril,” natural childbirth activist Sheila Kitzinger warned in a 1975 journal article. “It is a transitional period of approximately three months after birth . . . when many women are emotionally highly vulnerable, when they experience confusion and recurrent despair, and during which anxiety is normal and states of reactive depression commonplace.”

It has taken nearly half a century for this wisdom to begin to make it into the mainstream. But, finally, a growing group of doctors, doulas, and health care experts across the country are heeding Kitzinger’s warning and fighting — even in the midst of the pandemic — to give postpartum mothers the care they’ve long been denied.

“In our current system of care, the baby is the candy and the mother is the wrapper,” says Alison Stuebe, a professor of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of North Carolina and a national leader in the growing movement to change the way America treats new moms. “Once the candy is out of the wrapper, the wrapper is cast aside.”

Find the full article from Boston Globe Magazine here.