Virtual Postpartum Care: Pros, Cons, and Tips for Use

The postpartum period is a critical time for mothers and their newborns. Seeing a healthcare provider during the postpartum stage can help mothers, and their babies get the care and support needed to recover from childbirth. In addition, virtual postpartum care offers an efficient, safe alternative to traditional methods, which can benefit both mother and baby during the postpartum period.

Key takeaways:
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    There's been rapid incorporation of virtual services over the last few years as a convenient way for mothers to receive medical guidance while allowing the freedom to stay home with their babies.
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    Virtual postpartum care is increasingly becoming available for moms; this offers virtual healthcare assistance for those who choose not to or cannot access traditional physical care.
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    Virtual postpartum care often provides convenience and increased accessibility to care; however, disadvantages include the loss of face-to-face connection and expert hands-on evaluation.
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    Medical professionals continue to explore ways virtual postpartum care can enhance the maternal healthcare experience.
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    If you're considering using virtual postpartum care, talk to your provider about available services and whether it's right for you.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare institutions faced significant challenges in providing in-person patient care. A study found that less than 1% of patients used telehealth visits before the pandemic. Another study showed that 83% of women in their second and third trimesters transitioned from in-person to virtual visits in 2020.

This article presents the type of services available through virtual postpartum care and some advantages and disadvantages associated with it.

What kind of virtual care is available?

With virtual postpartum care, mothers receive the same level of support as in-person visits with access to healthcare providers from home. This virtual care offers convenient and comprehensive virtual postpartum sessions, including virtual appointments with doctors, midwives, and lactation consultants. Additionally, online childbirth classes and virtual parental support groups are also available. Virtual postpartum care may also offer educational resources to help develop parenting skills while providing emotional and social support during a challenging time for new parents.

Benefits of virtual postpartum care

Virtual care offers various advantages, such as the ability to connect with local medical professionals from the convenience of one's own home, easier coordination between healthcare providers, faster access to medical advice or research, and fewer risks that may be associated with in-person visits (such as during the pandemic).

Virtual visits allow people who do not have access to physical locations (or who do not reside near specialized care providers) to connect with specialists and receive the treatment they would otherwise be unable to access. It also provides a more intimate setting that can comfort moms who want to communicate with their healthcare provider on a personal level.

In addition, doctors may use remote monitoring devices as part of virtual care to continuously gather critical health data and evaluate how prescribed treatments may work.

Virtual postpartum care disadvantages

Virtual postpartum care has many benefits but also some potential disadvantages. Some women (especially first-time mothers) have reported feeling that virtual postpartum care may not have provided the support and connection they would expect with an in-person appointment.

Virtual appointments may feel more impersonal, making it challenging to get to know the provider or build a solid doctor-patient relationship. It may also limit access to resources such as information on breastfeeding techniques, referrals for specialized services, or taking proper measurements at home. That's because some of these nuances are difficult to convey accurately without being face-to-face. These concerns may make it uncomfortable for some patients to bring up concerns about depression, birth control, lactation, and other issues.

In addition, virtual meetings can be difficult if technical difficulties, like slow internet speed or audio problems occur during the session or if the patient or doctor needs to be more proficient with using technology.

Tips for using virtual care services

Postpartum care is an essential step in a mother's journey. Virtual postpartum care services provide the opportunity to access caring and professional support remotely. Women interested in virtual postpartum care should consider the following:

  • Research medical experts. Reach out to medical professionals or other experts who specialize in this type of care. Ask all the questions you need to make an informed decision with a professional who gains your trust;
  • Learn about your virtual postpartum options for care. Learning about what types of services are available and the unique benefits offered by those virtual programs helps you determine the most suitable for your personal needs;
  • Consider if you have the resources you need at home. Consider whether you have a quiet, private space available to take appointments and whether technical difficulties may make participating in the virtual session challenging;
  • Make sure to voice your concerns. While a virtual session might feel different than an in-person visit, it can be just as effective if you are open about your problems. Be sure to discuss the challenges you may be facing or the needs you may have;
  • Keep in contact with your doctor. One of the most significant advantages of virtual care is the convenience of meeting with medical professionals for support during the postpartum period. Continue attending each appointment and discussing any concerns that may come up related to your postpartum health (or the virtual service).

Postpartum care is a vital service that new mothers need to heal and feel supported during those first few weeks after childbirth. With virtual services, you can receive care from the comfort of your home to better fit your schedule. Overall, telehealth and in-person care can provide the same quality of care. However, personal preferences, access to technology, or the number of prior births a mother may have had may impact the perception of care. If you're considering using virtual postpartum care, talk to your provider about what services they offer and whether or not it's right for you.

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