Who We Are: The 4th Trimester Project convenes new mothers, health care providers, researchers, public health professionals, community leaders, and other stakeholders from across the US to identify unmet postpartum health needs, build knowledge, and create solutions. The 4th Trimester Project is led by the interdisciplinary team of Dr. Sarah Verbiest, Dr. Alison Stuebe, Dr. Kristin Tully, Suzanne Woodward, Venus Standard, CNM, LCCE, and Dr. Amelia Gibson at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Drs Stuebe, Verbiest, Tully and Ms. Woodward are affiliated with the UNC Center for Maternal and Infant Health (UNC CMIH), a leading organization for preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum health innovation and resources within the School of Medicine. Dr. Stuebe is also a practicing maternal fetal medicine physician and international leader in breastfeeding. Dr. Gibson is a professor in the School of Information and Library Science. Venus Standard is a midwife and educator within the UNC Department of Family Medicine and through her 4Moms2Be program in Greensboro, North Carolina. Dr. Tully leads stakeholder engagement and maternity care innovative through the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute in the Gillings School of Public Health. Dr. Verbiest is a professor in the School of Social Work and directs the CMIH and Jordan Institute for Families. The 4thTrimester Project partners with The Jordan Institute for Families, bringing expertise on behavioral health, poverty, substance use, mental health and family systems to the project. The 4th Trimester team works closely with many different departments, schools, and disciplines the University.
Strategic partners: Our team has worked with many national partners, including the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Black Mamas Matter Alliance, National Birth Equity Collaborative, Sister Song, National Healthy Start Association, the March of Dimes, Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, La Leche League International, City MatCH, Zero to Three, MomsRising, and others.
Our Vision: In the months following birth, every woman receives the social, emotional, physical, and economic support she needs to successfully transition through the postpartum period and into her new identity. Health care systems, businesses, and society will value and respect women not only for what they bring to families, communities, and nations but also for who they are in and of themselves.
Our Mission: To transform the lived experience of the 4th Trimester through a national movement to spark real, sustained change for women and their families at individual, community, and national levels.
Experts in Action:
We have a highly-skilled and purposeful team leading this work. Below are some summaries of our recent collaborations.
- The 4th Trimester Team recently completed a two-year project funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI, EAIN-2603). This award convened mothers, healthcare providers, community advocates, and other stakeholders to define what women need most to achieve their postpartum health goals. This engagement process elevated significant gaps in resources for women, families, health care providers, and communities about postpartum recovery and wellness. The findings from this work can be read in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, “The 4th Trimester: A critical transition period with unmet maternal health needs.”
- Drs. Verbiest, Stuebe, and Tully have been quoted in various news outlets, including the New York Times and NPR Studio 1A. A full list of The 4th Trimester Project press can be found HERE.
- How families navigate postpartum issues and ways in which settings can be more accommodating is actively discussed through the 4th Trimester Project Facebook page and Twitter account. Instagram is on the way. Click HERE to see how we’re engaging mothers online.
- The team is actively advancing research and practice in postpartum health and care. Dr. Alison Stuebe led the just released revision of US health guidelines for the postpartum visit, including the design of practice tools now available through the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
- Drs. Stuebe and Verbiest led work on an ACOG patient safety bundle and commentary on the Transition from Maternity to Well-Woman Care.
- Drs. Stuebe and Verbiest and an interdisciplinary team are completing a three-year study funded by the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau on the unique postpartum health needs of women with medically fragile infants.
- Dr. Verbiest and the UNC CMIH team is leading a broad coalition of partners across North Carolina to address postpartum health issues for incarcerated women. Dr. Verbiest led an initial national Think Tank on Postpartum Health in 2016 – if funded the new conference will take that work to the next level.
- Drs. Tully and Stuebe are co-inventors of the Couplet Care BassinetTM, a new postnatal unit bassinet supported by National Institutes of Health funding to enable safe and enjoyable mother-infant interactions. They are also working with partners in the UNC School of Medicine to test ways to better support women with postpartum management of gestational hypertension and shared decision-making and precision prescribing for opiate pain medications following cesarean birth.
- The team is also leading proposed work to create an innovative, individualized delivery system for optimal mother-infant care during postpartum hospitalization and discharge. If funded, this new award would lead to the reengineering of postpartum unit care to reduce perinatal morbidity and mortality.