Telehealth and postpartum care
Your maternal telehealth program can still play an important role in the care and health of your patients even after they give birth. Patients from rural or underserved communities may have an even harder time getting to in-person appointments after childbirth.
Barriers to postpartum care could include:
- The cost associated with travel, parking, or the cost of gas
- Long driving distances between home and the doctor’s office
- Not being able to drive for a period after childbirth per your doctor’s instructions
- Lack of childcare for the new baby or older siblings
- Lack of maternity leave for patients who have to begin work as soon as possible after childbirth
Postpartum telehealth services
In-person appointments will be necessary in some postpartum cases. In-person visits will check surgical incision sites or for hands-on lactation support.
But there are still many ways to care for postpartum patients with telehealth. A list of potential services includes:
- General health check-in to see how the patient is doing after childbirth
- Lactation support
- Screening and treatment for postpartum depression
- Therapy appointments with telehealth
- Referrals to specialists, including substance abuse programs
- Birth control counseling and prescriptions
Centerstone provides mental health and substance use disorder treatment in south central Tennessee to reduce both infant mortality and racial disparities in prenatal care. Implementing telehealth at the start of the public health pandemic has allowed Centerstone to reach more people through technology.
Staff members and providers no longer spend time traveling across a large geographic area for appointments, which allows more visits every day. People miss fewer visits and attend more education programs virtually than in person. Centerstone, which is funded by HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau program - Healthy Start grantee program, notes that educating their staff and sharing lessons learned on how to provide telehealth visits is a large part of their success. They urge everyone implementing telehealth programs to “be patient and have grace.”