The mother’s well-being directly affects the health of her children, her family, and the community. It’s essential that we continue to support her throughout life after birth.
Families are vital contributors to communities. Our communities depend on the families within them to remain livable and vibrant.
Families directly impact the health of the community and influence the progress or stagnation of the community. That’s why we need an all-around supportive start for mothers – and, quite frankly, that’s not often happening here in the United States.
The current postpartum care model in the US
When you compare the US with other developed countries, it’s not a pretty picture.
The US has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries. It’s something we don’t like to talk about, but mothers die in childbirth, and shockingly, over 50% of pregnancy-related deaths occur after the delivery in the postpartum period. Most of these deaths can be prevented. (1)
Postpartum mothers typically get only one or two postpartum visits with their medical provider after being continuously cared for during the nine months of pregnancy.
When you think about it, mothers see their child’s pediatrician much more frequently than their medical provider. When the baby arrives, it’s no wonder it’s easy to feel as if you – the mother – were forgotten.
The reality is, postpartum is the time to see and honor mothers and recognize their need to rest, heal, recover, and bond with their babies.
As a society, we need to change our attitudes from “mothers can do it all” to “mothers need time and support” for the sake of their health, their families, and their communities. Let’s provide more care at a time when mothers are vulnerable and need and deserve more respect.
A preventative support team is essential
We need to spend more energy and resources on being proactive rather than being reactive. Preventive healthcare helps mothers avoid unnecessary pain and suffering and may eliminate more costly future health problems.
Read next: Third Trimester To-Do: Build Your Postpartum Support Team
It should be the standard of care to provide a postpartum care team of providers in the 4th Trimester (12 weeks after childbirth) as follows:
A postpartum nurse should provide a minimum of three nurse home visits to the birthing parent to check on their physical and mental well-being.
It’s also an excellent opportunity to discuss some of the questions about their new lifestyle at home. The home is the best indicator of how a family is thriving.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist
A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist is a Doctor of Physical Therapy with extra education, training, and experience in treating pelvic floor dysfunction.
After enduring childbirth, the mother deserves a pelvic floor evaluation after six weeks postpartum.
After birth, one can experience a host of pelvic floor problems, including:
- Urinary/fecal leakage
- Pelvic pain
- Painful intercourse
- Pelvic prolapse
- Separation of abdominal muscles
Read next: A Closer Look at Pelvic Floor Issues in Postpartum
It’s important to know that medical providers will not perform a pelvic floor evaluation at the standard six-week postpartum check and will, most likely, not recommend one.
Keep in mind; this doesn’t mean you can’t ask for it. Speak up, request a referral, and continue to ask until you receive one.
In France, pelvic floor physical therapy is part of the French postpartum standard of care, and every mother will receive ten free sessions to “re-educate” her pelvic floor.
Functional Medicine Practitioner
A Functional Medicine Practitioner can help relieve hormonal imbalances after childbirth, speed recovery and get the mother back to optimum health. These practitioners are trained to focus on prevention and the root cause of disease rather than treat symptoms.
After childbirth, the body has undergone significant trauma, whether through vaginal delivery or a C-section. Your postpartum hormone levels are fluctuating, and the depleted body requires a tremendous amount of nutrition and extra calories for breastfeeding and motherhood.
These practitioners focus on providing a personalized care plan including lifestyle recommendations for:
These recommendations aim to support the body for optimum health and reduce the risk of future health conditions.
Read next: A Naturopath Shares Three Herbs for Postpartum Recovery
A Doctor of Chiropractic trained and experienced in postpartum care can help with faster recovery and prevent musculoskeletal pain, discomfort, and treat chronic pain.
The new mother will be doing a lot of holding, hunching, sitting, heavy lifting, twisting, bending with a sleep-deprived body.
Chiropractors can educate her on the best way to move and position her body to prevent injuries. Chiropractors can help correct postural issues to avoid neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, pelvic pain, sciatica, and even carpal tunnel syndrome.
A Certified Lactation Counselor or Certified Lactation Consultant is trained and experienced in providing breastfeeding support. If a mother plans on breastfeeding her baby, it’s a good idea to have help and support the early detection of any breastfeeding issues.
There are many reasons why breastfeeding may be difficult, and some mothers need extra support for breastfeeding success. Find an IBCLC lactation consultant.
Every new other needs a personal advocate. An advocate is someone who genuinely cares for her and offers a non-judgmental listening ear. The advocate checks in with the mother and asks, “how are you doing?”.
The advocate becomes her “go-to” resource for physical and emotional well-being. The advocate helps the mother transition into motherhood and helps coordinate all the postpartum healthcare needed.
Final thoughts on postpartum care
Early comprehensive support of mothers in the 4th Trimester benefits everyone. A mother is the foundation of the family. It is vital to nurture mothers for mothers’ long-term health and well-being, families, communities, and society.
More resources for postpartum support
After recognizing the gap in healthcare for postpartum support, Laureen opened 4th Trimester Care in Tampa, Fl. She has over 20 years of experience in physician practice management. Her career began in the non-profit sector, where she managed family planning clinics and advocated for women’s reproductive rights.