Postpartum care for mothers in the United States is under scrutiny yet again as maternal mortality rates in the US rise, all while declining in other countries. How?! How can our wonderful, developed country with amazing medical advances have such staggering statistics? Some of the reasons given by the healthcare industry: hospitals are cutting costs, cutting staff to meet ever-shrinking budgets, and there are nurse shortages across the country. This does not excuse the fact that women who give birth are being marginalized, and in some cases, ignored and forgotten.
I know what I would have done differently for both my children’s births in the days, weeks, and months that followed.
But I was curious about what other moms would have done differently. After all, our pregnancy and childbirth experiences are all different, so I knew there would be a range of answers to this question: If you could change anything about your postpartum experience – from hospital care after the baby was born to one year postpartum – what would you change? This set off a lively discussion – one that needs to be had among women, veteran mothers, and health professionals. The overall theme – we wanted our healthcare teams, spouses and families to listen to our concerns and needs and follow through with honoring them.
- Took more time for maternity leave.
- Trusted my instincts and not focused/stressed about feeding schedules.
- Hired a housekeeper.
- Given that mean lactation nurse a piece of our minds.
- Better mental health checks for mom after birth. (we are left to figure out on our own whether we have a postpartum disorder like Postpartum Depression or Postpartum anxiety.
- Had a support system in place prior to giving birth who could help where needed and force me to get help if I started exhibiting signs/symptoms of a postpartum disorder.
- Limited visitors in the hospital and at home after baby’s birth.
- Asked for help with baby in the weeks following birth so I could rest more.
- I would have forcefully asked for formula in the hospital to supplement until my milk came in. Both of my babies were so hungry, there were nursing every 30 minutes and still screaming in hunger.
- I would have been more forceful in how I voiced my concerns that something was wrong when I checked in for my c-section. The nurses brushed it off and turns out, the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck twice.
- People assumed I knew what I was doing because I am a healthcare professional. I had no idea what I was doing with my first baby.
- I wish I had someone to talk to who could have explained postpartum anxiety
- I would have demanded an eval with a pelvic floor PT
- I wouldn’t have compared myself to other moms on social media
- I wouldn’t have forced myself to breastfeed (turns out my body didn’t make breast milk)
- I would have engaged a postpartum doula service to help me get adjusted at home
Can you imagine if our OBs, nurses and healthcare teams had addressed these issues right away? How much easier it would have been for us to handle a newborn, fluctuating hormones and physically and emotionally recovering from birth?!