January 23rd is Maternal Health Awareness Day and we want to share 5 major tips with you as you prepare for pregnancy and birth.
We all have heard the horrors of birth in the United States. We have the highest maternal mortality rate of industrialized countries throughout the world and additionally we as a country don’t offer maternity leave. The black maternal mortality rate is an average of 3 times higher than that of non-blacks and up to 12 times higher in some metropolitan areas according to research. Maternity/ parental leave is essentially non-existent. Sure, some states and private companies have started to implement maternity leave, typically anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks for the mom (or birthing person) as well as partners, and more often than not it is unpaid. However, this pales in comparison to our foreign counterparts. Many persons are transplants in their respective cities, not having a large support system if any at all and
These things alone can invoke a lot of stress on expecting families. So what are some other things that moms need to be aware of during pregnancy as we promote maternal health? What are some resources out there that can be of great value? Here are 5 tips for you.
- Seek pelvic floor physical therapy during and after your pregnancy.
Most people know of physical therapy but don’t realize that there is a whole subcategory of physical therapy dedicated to specializing in all things pelvic related- the muscles, joints, organs, tissues etc. You name it! If it rests between the belly button and the knees then a pelvic floor therapist is your person. So if you are having aches and pains during pregnancy or wanting to prepare your body for birth, then the pelvic PT is your go-to. Similarly, after pregnancy the pelvic floor therapist addresses a variety of issues including leaking, pelvic pain, painful sex, diastasis recti and prolapse, just to name a few.
Can you imagine all the women who are forced to return to work even though their bodies have not healed? All those persons who are dealing with pain during their postpartum recovery. The types of things that most do not speak of. Can you imagine the moms who are “scared to death” to move because they feel as if they do, it will result in pain or injury. Pelvic floor therapy can address all these things, even your return to exercise safely.
- Birth doula. A doula is a support person who provides education about pregnancy and the birthing process, offers emotional and physical support and when needed, is an advocate for moms/ birthing persons. Birth doulas walk with women through the pregnancy journey and birth and research has shown that with them, birth outcomes are greatly improved.
- Postpartum doula. Like a birth doula, a birth doula is a support person. They are present after the birth of the baby to offer support to the mother/ family as they get accustomed to having a little one(s) at home. Postpartum doulas educate moms on newborn care, offer emotional support and resources when appropriate. They also may assist with physical needs in the home such as light housekeeping and taking care of the baby to allow mom to rest.
- Lactation consultant. Breastfeeding (chestfeeding) is a beautiful process; however for some it can be a trying process. Seeking a lactation consultant when issues arise is great, however seeking a lactation consultant prior to birth allows moms to be better prepared for the journey. Being knowledgeable alone can decrease the stress associated with breastfeeding.
- Community. While birth is a magical time, sometimes it can be a lonely time for moms. It can be stressful. It can be exhausting. Having a support system is key, but also knowing that many of the feelings and experiences you have during this time are typical can also make the process easier. Mom groups, whether online or in-person can be a great resource. Also, many birth professionals host their own community groups, some are general and others are specific to things like breastfeeding, babywearing and even mental health. Ask the birth professionals in your area if they offer any types of groups. Also check online and in your immediate area- there are several online communities via facebook, and other platforms. You never know, your new best friend(s) and your child’s newest playmates may be waiting for you in one of these amazing communities.
Pregnancy, birth, and parenting are all beautiful! They can carry a certain amount of stress but don’t necessarily have to and there are ample resources out there to ensure that moms/ birthing persons get what they need to make these phases of their lives better.
Let’s optimize the body and improve pregnancy outcomes and postpartum recovery.