This week I’m excited to share a guest post from one of my favorite birth workers in the Twin Cities. Lindsey Fontaine is a postpartum doula. She supports families as they transition into life with a newborn, helping them thrive and not just survive.
While many people have heard of birth doulas, postpartum doulas are a vital part of recovery and redefinition. I have a lot to say on the matter, but I am going to leave it to the postpartum doula expert:
Postpartum care and the attitude towards postpartum recovery in this country is terrible. Part of the reason for our absolutely atrocious maternal mortality rate is that once a patient is sent home, that’s typically the end of their care. There might be a postpartum checkup a couple of weeks later but that’s the last time a patient will see their care provider until their next annual exam.
Screening for postpartum depression happens at your child’s pediatric visits and that screen ends at six weeks, well before most symptoms of PPD or PPA arise.
We have to do something about this. But instead of looking forward, many natural care practitioners are looking back. The traditions that are still alive in many other countries can be used here to support new parents during this time of transition.
I’m going to cover the first month of postpartum care from a Chinese medicine perspective, but don’t limit yourself to my view! So many other cultures have rich and supportive traditions for families that could be beneficial and all are definitely worth considering.
In the last post, I spent a ton of time on a difficult topic: the health risks of mommy wine culture.
We don’t like to look at it. We don’t like to talk about it. We don’t like to hear about it. Just let us have our wine and relax. We worked 98 hours this week and we’ve earned it.
For some of you, it was a hard read. For some it was eye-opening. And for a few of you, it was “alarmist bullshit.” One particular mom said that I should be a part of the solution and not part of the problem. When I asked her what the solution was she said,
The solution is for you to mind what’s in your glass and stop worrying about everyone else.
I get it. I do. And maybe if I wasn’t a healthcare practitioner, minding my own glass would be easier. However, alcohol isn’t good for anyone.
According to the World Health Organization,* “overall there is a causal relationship between alcohol consumption and more than 60 types of disease and injury. Alcohol is estimated to cause about 20-30% of worldwide esophageal cancer, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, homicide, epilepsy, and motor vehicle accidents.” Every year, alcohol causes 1.8 million deaths.
So why, then, has #winemom become a growing hashtag? Why has this mommy wine culture simultaneously become a joke and a social movement? And why is it just moms?
Why are we willing to risk depression, anxiety, weight gain, osteoporosis, premature menopause, menstrual irregularity, infertility, systemic inflammation, stomach issues, gingivitis, impaired decision making, heart disease and a wide variety of cancers for the relief of a single glass of wine at the end of the night?
Because it’s our only choice.
At some point our society stood up and said that we would rather sacrifice the health and well-being of our mothers than to give them the community and support they need.
Emotions are complicated. Psychology is complicated. Humans, well, we’re complicated.
This season we’ve been diving deeply into emotional and psychological disorders on the blog. We started on Halloween with Sun Si Miao’s ghost points, the ancient treatment for conditions like addiction, bipolar, depression and anxiety.
Last week we talked about the shen, or how we understand spirit and consciousness in Chinese medicine.
But this week I thought we would get back to acupuncture and discuss an interesting group of points – the outer shu points – and tie them back to their impact on the shen.
Did you know that up to 75% of mothers will experience the baby blues postpartum?
The baby blues are an emotional and mental shift that happen when the cocktail of pregnancy hormones rapidly decreases while at the same time, a mother learns how to interact and care for her new baby. It’s a stressful time but it tends to be relatively short.
But 10-20% of mothers (and some new research shows that it may be higher) will develop postpartum depression, which has more severe symptoms than the baby blues and can but the mother’s life in danger. Postpartum depression or PPD often develops six months postpartum and sometimes as late as one year.
I go into more detail about the differences in this blog post but for this blog post I’d like to say right now: if you are showing signs of depression including withdrawing from friends and family, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy and having no interest in the baby talk to your midwife or primary care provider.
Flower essences can be very supportive in helping with emotional and spiritual shifts and are a powerful energetic medicine, but PPD can be life-threatening. Make sure that you have a support system in place before supplementing your care with flower essences.
More often we talk about the benefits to our babies. Breastfeeding children significantly reduces the rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), lowers the rates of colds, flus and ear infections, lowers the risk of asthma, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Breast milk is an amazing substance.
So when is it safe to stop breastfeeding? What is the best cut off for mom and baby? The answer is more complicated than you may think.
This has been a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time, I just haven’t known where to start. But sometimes starting a post is a matter of putting my butt in a chair and my hands on a keyboard.
We don’t like to talk about depression as a society. We talk about it in quiet places, in shadowy spaces and in clinic offices. We talk about it in shame and secrecy. And the shame and secrecy around depression is a significant contributor to the tragedy of suicide.