By Rachel Fox-Tierney, LM, CPM
In many countries around the world, new mothers and babies have several midwife visits in the first 4-6 weeks postpartum as a standard benefit of their health care system. Cross culturally, for 40 days post birth, new mothers are expected to rest and eat special healing foods. There is wisdom in this 40 day rest time. Physically, women are better healed and able to resume family and community activities when their six week rest time is completed.
Unfortunately, in the United States new mothers are viewed by society as "back to normal" within a few days after giving birth. Most American women do not get any preventative medical care during the first 4-6 weeks after birth. There is little support or evaluation of their physical or emotional adjustment until their 6 week OBGYN visit.
In addition, new mothers are expected to leave the house within a few days of giving birth to get pediatric care for their new baby at a time when they are not yet healed from this major life transition. It is not surprising then, that as many as 1 in 7 to 1 in 5 women experience postpartum mood disorders in this country. Although midwifery care alone cannot prevent all postpartum mood disorders, many families have reported that they have felt better emotionally or are able to get the care they needed from mood specialists sooner than after previous births.
Midwives who attend home births have always included extended (or from our perspective basic and necessary) postpartum care for 6 weeks. Typically, midwives provide 4-6 visits in the first 6 weeks, some at home and some at the midwives' office. Birthstream Midwifery Service is unique in that we visit 6 times in the first six weeks and all care is provided in the comfort and convenience of the family's own home.
In the past few years, several families who planned hospital births have contacted Birthstream to request the kind of postpartum care they would have received if they were giving birth in their home country or the kind of care their home-birthing friends have received with us. Some families who had standard American postpartum care with previous babies felt that the patchwork of postpartum care that they had to piece together themselves didn't work out as well as they had hoped.
We understand! Postpartum care from skilled midwives was what all of the Birthstream midwives experienced after we gave birth. This is the kind of care that we think is beneficial to health and well-being for mother and baby and an essential component of comprehensive midwifery care.
By popular demand, Birthstream created a special Postpartum Care package just for families who give birth in the hospital:
· One meeting during pregnancy to meet and discuss postpartum care plans.
· Six scheduled postpartum visits for mother and baby: Day 1, 3, 5, Week 2, 4, and 6...or a personalized schedule, if preferred. Visits average 60-90 minutes in your own home.
· 24-hour availability for urgent concerns.
· Breastfeeding support.
· Postpartum Herbal Kit: Healing Peri-wash herbs, Manuka Honey, and Happy Ducts tincture for breast health.
· Keepsake with baby footprints.
· Placenta encapsulation available for an additional fee.
During each of the 60-90 minute visits, we include a newborn exam and new mother exam.
- The Newborn Exam includes: checking baby weight, assessing heart rate and rhythm, evaluating breathing, assessing feeding and diapers. If there are concerns that we cannot address, we refer to a pediatrician of your choice.
- The New Mother Exam includes: checking blood pressure and pulse, assessing postpartum bleeding (lochia), assessing tissue healing (especially if sutures placed), supporting lactation and evaluating emotional and psychological adjustment to new parenthood. If there are concerns that are outside of our scope of care, we can refer to physicians/specialists.
We have limited space in our calendar for families choosing this Postpartum Care package. Please contact us if you are interested in finding out more or scheduling a consultation visit.