Post Partum Care
Good Morning Mamas!
I have a good friend who is a doula and she is passionate about what she does. She recently attended a birth that lasted over 36 hours and although it resulted in a beautiful, healthy baby girl, the new mama was saying-out loud and in the presence of her daughter-that she was a failure because she had succumbed to an epidural and she was sorry.
My friend immediately reminded this new mama that there was no failure in this birth. This mama held in her arms a beautiful, full term, healthy baby girl. She had endured 36+ hours of labor and had indeed pushed her daughter into this world via a much desired vaginal birth. She was in no way a failure because after some 36 hours this mama reached the end of her physical rope and consented to and received an epidural. In viewing her use of an epidural as a failure, this mama discounted all of her intense and yet beautiful labor and delivery.
We humans are peculiar creatures. I believe that we are the only creatures in the animal kingdom who can get caught up in our one shortcoming that we discount the other 99 things that we do right! I don’t know this woman, but I do know that she had an uneventful pregnancy, was term at the onset of labor and just gave birth vaginally to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. She worked, toiled and labored for 36+ hours. She did it all. It was only at the very end that she needed a bit of assistance and she received it. For that one tiny (shortcoming) this woman saw herself as a failure.
Mamas, I know that many of you may read this and think,
“She’s complaining because she had an epidural?? Well, I can show her failure! I’m here on bed rest and at risk of losing my baby! The most basic and most natural of things for a woman to do, to become pregnant and to deliver a baby and my body has betrayed me. I am a failure as woman.”
These may not be your exact words, but am I close? How badly have you “shred” yourself because you are on bed rest? How many times have you believed and/or called yourself a failure because you ended up on bed rest? How many of you feel betrayed by your bodies? Feel broken or less than a woman?
I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I hurled many of the aforementioned statements at myself when I lost my 2 pregnancies and as I struggled to have my daughter. I felt completely broken and useless as a woman. Who or what was I if I couldn’t have a baby? That is what women do, make babies! While I was very conscious of the fact that many women lead very full lives without children, I also knew that this was often by choice, not by circumstance. I wanted to have children and it felt as though the universe was playing a painfully cruel joke on me.
When my friend told me about this birth, giving me graphic details of the labor and delivery as well as this post partum self depreciation and how she responded, it really drove home to me that there is never failure in pregnancy, labor and delivery, only perfection.
Every birth is perfect and that includes the “good and ethereal transformative” experiences as well as the bad and really ugly! I have no idea what will happen in the life of this new mama, her baby girl, her husband or her mother. But the fact that they are all there at that “serendipitous” moment makes it exceedingly clear to me that there are lessons to be learned.
Sometimes, when I allow myself, I play a little round of “What If?” What if I had gotten married younger? What if I had not miscarried? What if I hadn’t had uterine fibroids or luteal phase defect-the causes of my miscarriages. What if….?
Perhaps if I had gotten married younger I wouldn’t have had the problems that I had. Maybe. If I had not miscarried, I would have 2 entirely different children as each miscarriage preceded one of my children. While I am sure that I would love any child that I had, I really can’t imagine not having the kids that I have now-quirks and all! And if I hadn’t had all the problems that I have had, I never would have started Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond. I never would have been seeking answers for what was “wrong” with me, how to fix it and how to help other women avoid the pitfalls that I faced. So for all of my failures, I have had bountiful success and joy!
Mamas, it’s perfectly normal to be disappointed when things don’t turn out the way you expect. But just because the outcome is unexpected, doesn’t mean that you are a failure. Every pregnancy, labor and delivery occurs in its perfect time, place and sequence. What you may be regarding as failure may in fact become your greatest triumph! In pregnancy as in nature, there is no failure, only perfection.
Please share your comments in the section below of how you can see the perfection in your situation. Even if you can’t imagine the perfection now, how are you looking forward to it?
Hello Mamas, Here’s a question from Mama on Bedrest Josh asking,
“Doesn’t placental encapsulation help with Post Partum Depression symptoms?”
After doing a bit of checking, I found that there is not medical evidence that Placental Encapsulation has any medical benefit. That said, ingestion of the placenta in any form has been practiced for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine and in other tribal customs. Because it is high in hormones, it is porported that ingesting the placenta,
- Helps balance a woman’s hormones post partum
- Helps mitigate “the baby blues” a syndrome reportedly faced by up to 80% of women in the immediate post partum
- Helps ward off post partum depression (this has not been proven)
- Enhances milk production
- May help balance hormones during perimenopause
The additional benefit touted is that because the placenta is actually an organ the woman herself produces, there is no toxicity or risk of adverse reaction. It’s is seen as similar to donating blood to oneself prior to surgery. And because the placent comes from the woman herself, it provides the ultimate “bio-identical hormones”.
While I don’t endorse or refute the practice, I recommend that women interested in placental encapsulation thoroughly research the process and find a trained, certified placental encapsulation specialist; someone trained in the proper preparation according to Traditional Chinese Medicine practices and OSHA trained so that the organ is properly handled and prepared. There are resources listed below.
If you have done placental encapsulation, know something about placental encapsulation or have an opinion, please share your comments in the comments section below. Thanks!!
If you have a question, send it to email@example.com and we’ll answer it on an upcoming Wednesday Vlog.
Resources for further study:
Did you know that it’s a really good thing to cuddle with your babies? Yeah, I know, a no brainer. Most of us may instinctively know this to be that case and find that it just feels so good we do it. But research reported in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing confirms that skin to skin contact comforts babies and helps them to sleep better and be less “fussy”, while also helping mamas ward off depressive symptoms and stress in the early post partum period.
Last week, I shared a link on the Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond‘s Facebook Page from The Post Partum Stress Center. The article entitled, “Skin-to-Skin Contact May Lower Risk for Postpartum Depression” reports findings from the aforementioned longitudinal study following mamas in the early post partum. Mamas in the study group were encouraged to hold their babies for approximately 5 hours daily in the initial week post partum and for at least 2 hours daily for the first month. Mamas’-whether or not they developed post partum depression- were followed for three months (at 1 week, 1 month, 2 months and three months), and completed depression questionnaires. The researchers reported the following results:
“Compared to mothers in the control group, mothers in the SSC group had lower scores on the depression scales when the infants were one week and marginally lower scores when the infants were one month; when the infants were age 2 and 3 months, there were no differences between groups in the mothers’ depression scores. Over their infants’ first month, mothers in the SSC group had a greater reduction in their salivary cortisol than mothers in the control group.”
I was following some of the comments on the Post Partum Stress Center’s page and was surprised that their moderator had the following comment,
“Conclusions from this kind of research makes me nervous. Too much room for misinterpretation and self-blame. What about moms who are practicing skin to skin contact and still get depressed? What about moms who are too sick to engage in skin to skin contact? What other variables are being considered when the moms in this study reported fewer depressive symptoms?”
As I said, this comment surprised me so I went and read the actual study myself. The study indicated that there was a beneficial reduction in depressive symptoms from skin to skin contact between mama and newborn in the early post partum period and this reduction was measured via salivary cortisol levels. It wasn’t clear what specific questions were asked in the depressive questionnaire and as one person commented on The Post Partum Stress Center’s thread, it was not known in what other activities/interventions mamas who were reporting fewer depressive symptoms were engaging. The researchers go on to say that skin to skin contact may be a way to lessen depressive symptoms and enhance the mother/infant bond.
There are a couple of reasons that I am seeing a discrepancy. First, the citation on the Post Partum Stress Center facebook page is from an article reporting on the study. Whenever I see such an article I immediately track down the actual research publication so that I can “get the scoop from the source.” This proved to be important here because the article had a couple of minor mistakes. The actual study indicated that mamas held their babies for about 5 hours of daily skin to skin contact for the first month. The article reported the skin to skin contact to be 6 hours daily. The study also indicated, and this is what I feel is the biggest area of discrepancy, that skin to skin contact may be a way to lessen depressive symptoms. From what I saw, it did not say that it skin to skin contact was curative, nor did it say that by doing skin to skin contact a woman would not develop post partum depression. Additionally, I did not read the study as the researchers saying that skin to skin contact could replace medication or cognitive behavioral (talk) therapy in depressed mothers, but seemed to see it as an adjunct to other treatments.
I completely see what the folks at the Post Partum Stress Center were talking about. Just reading the article, a “depressed” mama may be lead to believe that if she simply holds her baby, her depression will magically lift and, if she holds her baby she won’t get post partum depression at all. In my opinion, this is not the intended conclusion of the authors at all. Further, Post partum depression is a very complex and very serious medical condition. If a woman has symptoms of post partum stress, she should not try to “tough it out” nor should she try to self diagnose. She should be evaluated by a trained health care professional immediately, as untreated post partum depression can have serious negative effects on both mama and baby. And it is my firm belief that it is the job of the health care providers, the “trained professionals”, at each and every contact with a new mama to ask pointed questions about how mama is adjusting to motherhood. These questions should be both directed at the symptoms of post partum depression as well as open ended so that mama can elaborate on her particular situation and ask any questions she may be harboring.
With lots of open, direct communication and support, I believe that mamas can get the help and support that they need if they are suffering with post partum depressive symptoms. Mamas, post partum depression is nothing to play with. Seek help immediately if you feel that you have depressive symptoms.