White patients, older patients and patients with depression or preeclampsia were also more likely to visit their primary care doctor.
Of the women on Medicaid, 65 percent of those with complicated pregnancies and 61.5 percent of those without complicated pregnancies had a postpartum obstetric visit within three months. Numbers were slightly lower for those with commercial insurance, at 50.8 percent of those with complicated pregnancies and 44.6 percent of those without complicated pregnancies.
Bennett says providers need to develop creative ways to improve attendance at postpartum visits. A pilot project at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, for example, involves combined "mommy-baby" visits, she says. If the baby's checkup is included in the mother's visit, the mother may be more likely to keep the appointment, and thus would receive important education about improving health behaviors and the need for primary care follow-up. Other options are home visits and collaborations with day care centers, community centers and churches to make visits and health promotional activities more convenient.
Bennett says more work is also needed by hospitals and physicians to coordinate future appointments, or to arrange transportation or child care if needed.
"Pregnancy is a teachable moment many women are very motivated to make healthier lifestyle choices to keep themselves and their babies healthy. After a birth, we need to keep them motivated," she says.
Bennett and her team say their findings add to evidence that access to health care alone having insurance and a phy
|Contact: Stephanie Desmon|
Johns Hopkins Medicine