Global Pregnancy Support

Mamas on Bedrest: Your Mental Health Matters

July 6th, 2015

Hello Mamas,

Calling your attention to an amazing organization that is doing exceptional work globally for mamas, The Maternal Health TaskForce (MHTF). A project of the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health, MHTF is working towards:

  • Making the most up to date evidence-based information is available to practitioners, provider, researchers and anyone with a vested interest in helping and supporting women during childbearing
  • Provide opportunities for the global maternal health community to come together to discuss and create unified policies on women’s health issues globally
  • Provide resources and support for research in Maternal/Infant/Child Health
  • Train the next generation of Global Women’s Health Practitioners and researchers.

I receive the MHTF e-newsletter and the last newsletter was all about Maternal Mental Health. Maternal Mental Health is an often overlooked (ignored!!) part of women’s health. Current research estimates are that 10-15% of women in upper income countries (like the US, Canada, Australia and the UK for example) experience perinatal mental health disorders. In lower and middle income countries (Africa and parts of Asia), the current estimate is closer to 33% and many researchers feel that this number is low because until now mental health in childbearing women in these countries hasn’t been addressed. However, the impact of adverse maternal mental health has had significant impact on maternal health, infant and child health and the maternal child bond, so researchers and clinicians both are very keen to study the various mental health disorders common in childbearing women-mainly depression and anxiety.

Over the last month, MHTF had a blog carnival addressing mental health issues in childbearing women in their Mental Health: The Missing piece in Maternal Health series. It’s a really interesting series of blog posts and reflect how pervasive mental health disorders are in childbearing women, and how overlooked the signs and symptoms have been until very recently. The blogs also address how the stigma of mental health is so strong in all countries regardless of economic status, and this stigma is keeping many women from receiving much needed care. The articles do a wonderful job of highlighting the issues surrounding the stigma of mental illness, how women are not being heard in terms of the emotional toll of adverse birth outcomes and barriers to care. I highly recommend taking a look.

For those of you not really interested in global women’s health and need assistance closer to home, (i.e. for yourself!!) I am happy to announce that our Third Thursday Teleseminars are going video! It has long been a dream of mine to be able to bring Mamas on Bedrest together to be able to talk and share ! I have been researching platforms on which to do this for years and until recently, the platforms were just too grainy (i.e the images were really not that good), Platforms were only able to accommodate up to 10 participants or platforms that could accommodate more than 10 participants had hefty user fees or required expensive software. Now there is Zoom web conferencing and it’s amazing! I attended a web conference using it last week and I could clearly hear and see all of the other participants! So we are giving Zoom a test drive for our Third Thursday Teleseminar, July 16, 2015. Login details will be shared in our upcoming newsletter and will be available on our website. So if you have concerns about anxiety, depression or other feelings you may be having during your bedrest journey, this is the perfect time and place to bring your concerns.

In the meantime, share pressing questions or concerns in the comments section below or send an e-mail to Info@mamasonbedrest.com for a 24hr response.

Mamas on Bedrest: Am I a Bedrest “Benedict Arnold”?

January 12th, 2015

Good Morning Mamas!

Last week I had the pleasure to be interviewed for a podcast and I think I shocked the interviewer when I lead off with,

“I must begin by saying that bed rest is not an evidence based treatment, meaning that there is no scientific or medical proof that bed rest prolongs pregnancy or prevents poor birth outcomes.”

I know that I freaked out the interviewer a bit and she quickly moved the conversation onto indications for bed rest and what women should look for, and if there is anything that mamas can do to prevent being put on bed rest. I had to smile to myself.

I know that my stance on bedrest is unique and to some, it may seem like I am a “Benedict Arnold” when it comes to bed rest. So I want to clear the air. I never professed to be a proponent of bed rest. I am, always have been and always will be a staunch supporter of pregnant mamas! My sole mission in life is to ensure that every pregnant mama has all the tools, information and support that she needs to be able to have a healthy pregnancy. I chose to focus on Mamas on Bedrest after having 2 very high risk pregnancies myself and finding no support online, in the literature or in my local community. But let me reiterate: I am not one to run about saying that women should be put on bed rest. Nope. My goal is to provide the best care and support possible to pregnant women on prescribed bed rest, but to ultimately to be “put out of the bed rest business” because bed rest is no longer needed.

So does this mean that I think women should ignore their bed rest prescriptions? Absolutely not! When a woman begins prenatal care with an obstetrician or midwife, she enters into a legal agreement where the health care provider agrees to do everything within his/her professional expertise and within the accepted medical practices to ensure she has a safe and uncomplicated pregnancy and ends up with a healthy baby. Mamas on the other hand, agree to follow the guidance and instructions of their healthcare provider, working in concert with them to ensure that they have safe uncomplicated pregnancies and healthy babies at birth. If your health care provider recommends that you go on bed rest, you should go on bed rest. Why? Because they believe that is the best way that they can take care of you and your baby, and that is what you are paying them to do! So evidence based or not, you must abide by your agreement and follow the instructions of your health care provider.

Now that is not to say that you can’t ask questions. Ask your health care provider why they want to put you on bed rest? Is it strict bed rest or modified activity? Can you sit on the sofa or are you restricted to bed? What do they hope will happen with you being on bed rest? Yes, a healthy term pregnancy, but what else? What are the potential complications of being on bed rest? Of your condition?? Mamas, you must be an integral part of your health care team, and that means being fully informed about all that is going on.

So I hope this clears the air. I am not a proponent of bed rest and I do hope that it is abolished in favor of targeted treatments for the conditions for which bed rest is prescribed. New tests and treatments are already available for the detection and screening of pre-eclampsia  and incompetent cervix or cervical insufficiency.  Hopefully other tests and treatments for other conditions are in the research pipelines. For now, many obstetricians and gynecologists still prescribe bed rest and if yours is one of them, heed their instructions and come to Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond for support to thrive on your bed rest journey!

Got questions about your bed rest journey? Comments about this post? Post them below in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.

Mamas on Bedrest: Texas earned a “C”. What’s your state’s premature birth grade?

November 18th, 2014

World Prematurity DayHello Mamas,

November 17th is World Prematurity Awareness Day. All over the globe there will be educational events, initiatives, presentations and activities all designed to raise awareness about the very serious problem of prematurity. Premature birth is the leading cause of neonatal death in infants under one year old and each year, 15 million babies die as a result of being born too soon-and are too young and too sick to survive.

Now we are all likely sitting here and thinking, that’s a shame. Those poor babies in developing countries have such a tough road to hoe. Well fasten your seat belts! Despite spending more than most other countries on the planet for health care, The United States has one of the worst rate of premature births of the developed nations. Each year nearly 500,000 infants are born too soon in the US-that’s 1 out of 9 infants!! These numbers are sobering. What’s more, where you are born has a lot to do with your chances of being born prematurely.

Taking a look at the US as a whole, there has been a reduction in the overall rates of preterm labor and premature births. As of this month, the March of Dimes reports rates of premature births (2013 data) has fallen for the 7th straight year to 11.4% and as such, the nation has reached its goal (9.6%) set for Healthy People 2020 7 years early. But when we look at individual states, there is a much different picture. While some states are doing well reducing the number of premature infants born, others are not faring so well. Texas, where I live, currently has a grade of “C”, while my home state of Massachusetts is graded a “B” and only Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Oregon and California earned “A” Grades. Sadly, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Puerto Rico earned “F’s”.

The March of Dimes is working aggressively with state, national and international health representatives to determine what factors are the major reasons babies are born prematurely, and what interventions can be put in place to ameliorate them so that babies won’t be born too soon. The solutions are really pretty simple. It’s not more technology. It’s not more complicated political laws. It’s education. Women need to know that as soon as they become pregnant, they must begin prenatal care. It’s access. Women globally need access to comprehensive, affordable prenatal care. In developing nations as well as in many areas of the United States, women don’t have easy access to health care services. If the nearest health care center is 3 hours away by car and they don’t have a care and no access to any sort of public transportation, they won’t get regular prenatal care! It’s resources. In many rural or economically depressed areas, women simply don’t have the money for food, shelter and prenatal care.  Health care resources may be limited. Access to the midwifery model of care; Attendant care with midwives and doulas which have been shown to reduce the rates of complications and poor birth outcomes, makes these women vulnerable to poor birth outcomes. Breastfeeding Education. Many women still are uneducated about the benefits of breastfeeding, don’t receive breastfeeding education/suppport and don’t have access to pumps.

So how does your state rate? What’s its grade? How is your prenatal care? Let us know in the comments section below. If you need assistance or information, feel free to include that in your comment or write privately to info@mamasobedrest.com