Make Mothers Matter

One of the greatest preventions is good postpartum support in the first 12 months. It is very important women’s physical and emotional needs are attended to and efforts are made by couples and their families to reduce conflict and stress for the new mom and the baby because early life experiences matter.

Be a good postpartum support person to your wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, friend, granddaughter, aunt neighbor or sister! Postpartum transitions, depression and anxiety are made worse for women with lack of social, environmental and emotional support and empathy from their husband’s, domestic partners, family and friends.  It is truly a vulnerable time for women and babies. Great postpartum support creates a common good for all.  Everyone wins when we care for new mothers and babies.

Environmental and social supports promoting decreased stress, emotional wellbeing and recovery include:

  • Household help

  • Cooking

  • Nutrition and hydration

  • Rest / sleep

  • Childcare help

  • Exercise

  • Personal time

  • Shared parenting

Emotional Supports include:

  • Processing birth story

  • Nurturing time for relationship with partner, friends and family.

  • Talking about feelings and factors affecting her mood

  • Affirm her in positive ways and for the amazing job she is doing as a mother!

  • Help her gain confidence

  • Recognize your limitation as a support person and help her get the support she may need

 
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Communicate

Women need opportunities to talk about birth and motherhood. We need to have more frank discussions about the postpartum period to enable women to better understand and adequately plan for this amazing yet challenging time. Our social, economic, cultural and medical systems do not realistically prepare women for postpartum. The media often over romanticizes the experience as being no big deal and an easy transition.  This reality is very different for many postpartum moms.

Women are under huge pressures postpartum, often taking on beliefs of the perfect mother and that they need to do it all. Postpartum can be isolating with little family or natural support systems, fathers and/or domestic partners are often working.

Communicate about the challenges and experiences during postpartum weeks.  Give the mom a chance to talk about the physical and emotional challenges.  Engage the mother of the newborn to talk about what they are experiencing.

The postpartum experience is physically and emotionally challenging. Many women may be experiencing the following:

  • Pain

  • Fatigue

  • Feelings of low self esteem

  • High expectations of self

  • Difficult infant characteristic

  • Negative birth experiences, high intervention or birth trauma.

  • Feeling alone, lack of support

  • Breastfeeding challenges

  • Feeding issues in the baby

  • Body image concerns about pregnancy weight.
 
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Support In the Workplace

More call to action is required by workplaces, healthcare systems, and society in general to change the current conditions for women, babies and families.  The USA does not provide postpartum maternity or paternity leave or pay supplemental income, promoting healthy, early beginnings for families, beyond the family medical leave act (FMLA).  In many cases enough leave-time is not made available for a healthy postpartum adjustment for infant or maternal mental health.  The Family Medical Leave Act does not help women who need to stop work before the baby is delivered due to medical concerns, or for women delivering twins or multiples. It is a limited benefit and often forces women who are also recovering from postpartum depression and anxiety to go back to work much too early and without adequate recovery.

Postpartum recovery, balancing needs of baby, self and the rest of the family, is not an overnight transition. The expectations of going back to work in 6 -12 weeks is not always realistic or respectful of women’s needs. It is often not possible with postpartum depression or anxiety. The needs of new mothers the first year, after giving birth, are under acknowledged.

 
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