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.
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.
Some say that it was the hardest thing they have ever done in their life. Others say it was the best. Most agree it’s a little of both.
Whatever you think about labor and delivery and however you went about it, there is no argument: its recovery time.
I know some of you are reading this thinking that recovery will be no bigdeal. Some of you may even go to Target tomorrow. I hope that this post will change your mind.
Even if you feel great, you just ran your body through the ringer. It will take five weeks for your body to start to feel normal. Some traditional texts say that it will take 100 days for you to be back to where you were before you got pregnant. I’ve heard some professionals say that it can take up to three years to fully recover from childbirth.
But I’m here to give you good news. If you manage your recovery right, not only can you bounce back sooner, but you can bounce back better. The postpartum period is one of three opportunities a woman has to heal herself and build on the foundation she had before pregnancy so she can be harder, better, faster and stronger.