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Mamas on Bedrest: What’s Dad Got to do With it?

June 18th, 2017

In the birthing world, dad’s often take a very distant third place behind the baby and the mama (and usually in that order!). Many men have told me that they want to support their partners, but are unsure how, and feel left in the dark when its time to make major decisions.  My own experience having my daughter was a prime example. When my daughter was first delivered by c-section, she was having difficulty breathing so they whisked her over to the warming table to clear her airway and check her out. Meanwhile, my uterus would not contract as it should have and I began bleeding. As my obstetrician went to work on me and the neonatal team was working on my daughter, my daughter’s father was standing in the middle of the floor clueless as to what was happening. He says of that day,

“I didn’t know if I was going to come home with one of you, both of you or neither of you!”

Health care providers often neglect to acknowledge and include fathers in the perinatal process. While this oversight is almost always unintentional, health care providers and other birth workers often explain their actions with,

“I’m so focused on the well being of mama and baby, I kind of forget about the needs of the dad.”

This is a horrible oversight on the part of the medical team, and a terrible omission of a very valuable resource.

When a woman is pregnant, and even more notably when she is in labor, she’s very vulnerable. She can’t function at her normal level due to the physical changes going on in her own body, and as her body is developing the fetus. She needs her partner more than ever to help with very practical activities around the house as well as for emotional support. In my time as a doula, as much as I love supporting the women I serve, a wonderfully supportive partner almost always trumps what I can offer a mom. The bond that the couple shares having created the baby is now heightened as that baby makes its way into the world. Whether he is quietly whispering encouragement in her ear, massaging her back during contractions or literally holding her up as she labors dads’ strength and very presence are often the most soothing balm for a laboring mama.

And dads’ presences are critical to the growth and development of their children. Not only do dads give infants a sense of safety and security, as children develop, dads’ influence contributes to a lower rate of behavior problems, delinquency, depression, substance abuse and overall psychological adjustment.(1) Additionally,

“Knowing that kids feel loved by their father is a better predictor of young adults’ sense of well-being, of happiness, of life satisfaction than knowing about the extent to which they feel loved by their mothers,”

says Ronald Rohner, the director of the Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut.(2)

Dads seem to also be responsible for giving their children persistence. Laura Padilla Walker, a researcher from Brigham Young University found that dads who provide loving but firm guidance, and encourage their children to persist-even when it’s hard-endow their children with life long persistence that is closely linked to future success. Additionally, a persistent personality, in turn, was related to less delinquency and more engagement in school over time.

“Our study suggests fathers who are most effective are those who listen to their children, have a close relationship, set appropriate rules, but also grant appropriate freedoms,” study researcher Laura Padilla-Walker.

So none of this is really anything new. We know that dads are important and that their presence and loving interaction have a tremendous positive impact on their children. So today, Father’s Day, show some dads that you know some love-whether it’s your own father, a father figure, or a guy that you know who is really giving his all to be there for his children. And it’s not whether or not a dad is in love with the mother that counts. It is important for children to see their parents treating one another with respect. But parents don’t have to be married to exert their loving positive influences on their children. It’s their presence in their children’s lives that matters most.

Happy Fathers Day to all the dads!!!

Share a story of a great father that you know in our comments section below!!

 

References:

The Huffington PostThe Important Role of Dad, By Dr. Gail Gross. June 12, 2014

LiveScience – The Science of Fatherhood: Why Dad’s Matter. Stephanie Pappas, June 15, 2012

The University of Connecticut, Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance & Rejection

Laura M. Padilla-Walker, Randal D. Day, W. Justin Dyer, Brent C. Black The Journal of Early Adolescence, vol. 33, 4: pp. 433-457., First Published June 18, 2012.
Transnational Relations Between Perceived Parental Acceptance and Personality Dispositions of Children and Adults: A Meta-Analytic Review.A. Khaleque, R. P. Rohner. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 2011; 16 (2): 103 DOI: 10.1177/1088868311418986

 

10 Perfect Mother’s Day Gifts for Mamas on Bedrest!

May 11th, 2017

This weekend is Mother’s Day and it’s time to shower your favorite Mamas on Bedrest with love and adoration!! Mamas on Bedrest are mamas who are not out and about. They are doing the very important work of gestating their babies at home and in the hospital, doing all that they can to make sure their bundles of love arrive safe and healthy. In their unwavering dedication to their babies and their families, recognizing that finances may be tight and that dad’s and other family members time is stretched, they are forgoing some vital self care. So for all that they are doing, show them that you see them and that you appreciate all the hard work that they are doing, and give them some extra love and pampering just for them! Below are 10 Perfect Mother’s Day gifts for Mamas on Bedrest. You’ll need to check your local listings for availability and pricing.

A Facial – Today there are mobile aestheticians who will actually come to your home and pamper you! Why not book a facial for your fav Mama on Bedrest? The aesthetician typically will bring her own equipment and products and provide mama with an unforgettable experience. Facials are excellent during pregnancy because with the added pregnancy hormones on board, many mamas may be experiencing acne, dryness or other skin imbalances that an experienced aesthetician can help remedy. And it will make mama feel great and bring out that pregnancy glow!

A Massage – Massage is an excellent gift for any mama, but especially for Mamas on Bedrest. Massage stimulates circulation as well as lymphatic drainage. Because Mamas on Bedrest are not up and moving about, their circulation has often slowed and the removal of dead tissue and wastes are also slowed. A massage by an experienced prenatal massage therapist will not only help mama’s circulation, but will relieve tired muscles and stretch muscles and limbs not being used while mama is on bedrest. Mama may also find that her sleep improves after the massage.

Manicure/Pedicure – All Mamas, especially Mamas on Bedrest, like to look pretty! Why not gift mama a mani/pedi! Aestheticians can come to mama in her home or to her hospital room and provide the service.

Housecleaning – Let’s face it, when mama’s down, the family goes into chaos as they try to figure out how to maneuver without their star player/team captain! Mamas often lament to me that they are concerned that their family is having trouble keeping up with the house; with their partners working and the kids doing what they can. Why not gift this mama some peace of mind and provide a deep cleaning service? Most services will come and do a one time deep cleaning, getting in every nook and cranny and setting things to right. Once that is done, Mama will rest easy knowing that her family now only needs to do maintenance upkeep.

Meal Delivery – I know that many communities gather round families with Mamas on Bedrest and bring over meals and casseroles. This is a wonderful gesture and much appreciated by Mama and her family. But it’s Mother’s Day. Let’s go all out!!! Order mama and her family a meal from their favorite restaurant and have it delivered and set up in her room! This is a wonderful way for mama and her entire family to share the day and its extra special when the meal comes from a special place.

Personal Chef Services – Some mamas will develop pregnancy induced hypertention (PIH) or Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) during pregnancy or even other metabolic disorders that will require mama to watch her diet. Why not give mama some special attention by hiring a personal chef for her-even if just for Mother’s Day. Most personal chef’s are very adept at preparing foods that are nutritious yet adhere to special dietary constraints. It will surely make mama feel like a queen!

Childbirth Education – Unfortunately, because mama is on bedrest, she won’t be able to attend a childbirth class. Why not bring the class to her! There are innumerable childbirth education classes available online. And (shameless plug here) Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond offers childbirth education classes via SKYPE and Facetime! So there is no need for mama to go into labor unprepared, but every opportunity for her to enter labor and delivery empowered.

Lactation Consultation – Many of you may be saying, “She hasn’t even had the baby yet!” Then this is the perfect time to make sure that Mama has everything that she needs to successfully initiate breastfeeding at birth and to carry on throughout the first year (if she so chooses!!) I have had many mamas remark that consultations with lactation consultants are an expense that they cannot afford. Why not gift this valuable resource to her??

Doula Services – I am so saddened when I hear Mamas on Bedrest say, “Oh, I can’t have a doula, I’m high risk and will be delivering in the hospital” or “I’m having a c-section.” There is still no reason that you can’t have support and comfort measures during your labor, delivery and birth. Doulas are for ALL women, not just those who are having uncomplicated pregnancies or birthing with midwives. Think about it, if doulas are there to make you feel more comfortable and secure, and to make sure that you have your wishes carried out as much as possible, doesn’t it make more sense to have a doula present to advocate on your behalf in an environment where there may be more intervention? Doulas are able to support all childbearing women in all types of situations, and their presence is now scientifically documented to improve birth outcomes. Gift this invaluable resource to a mama today!

Becoming a mother is quite possibly one of the most monumental events in a woman’s life. It needn’t be marred by bedrest. Mama can still be pampered and appreciated for the awesome mama she is and it’s my hope that these 10 gift ideas will enable you to show her how much she is loved and appreciated.

 

Happy Mother’s Day mamas!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get mama Doula services, Childbirth Education and Breastfeeding support, by e-mailing info@mamasonbedrest.com

“I was on the Treadmill 2 days after I delivered” And in Surgery 2 months later!

April 27th, 2017

Pushing too hard to regain your pre-pregnancy physique and activity level can actually have the opposite effect and lead to injury.

In the last post, I shared how many of my clients compare themselves and their post partum progress to celebrities, who more often than not, have a full staff of people helping them with their babies, enabling them to rest, prepare them specialized diets and personally train them to get back to their pre-pregnancy physiques. I have spoken on this topic many times before in an earnest effort to put mamas’ worries to rest that they are not “slackers” if they don’t “bounce back” to their pre-pregnancy weights immediately post partum. For Mamas on Bedrest especially, most people don’t expect you to immediately dash through your homes putting everything into neat and tidy order post bed rest. You won’t have the energy. Some of you will need physical therapy to be able to regain your strength and mobility.  So I continue to encourage you to put the comparisons aside.

I also wanted to draw readers attention to a post on our Facebook Page by the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health  “Women need a whole year to recover from childbirth despite the ‘fantasy’ image of celebrity mothers, study claims” 

A whole year??! Most American women balk at this statement and as one of my readers clearly stated,

“A year… wow. I wish. That’s literally impossible for most moms in the U.S.”

What a tragic statement about the US’s concern for women’s health, maternal health and the health and well being of mamas and their babies. I could write (and have written!!) an entire post about how the US doesn’t value childbearing as evidenced by our maternity policies and birth outcomes. I’ll refrain from reiterating my utter disdain at this time. But I  do want to address some very important issues that result when women resume their pre-pregnancy activities too soon, and how it can be detrimental to their own health and the health of their newborns.

Bonding – New mamas and their babies need time to bond. While there is already a very strong connection between mama and baby from the pregnancy, new mamas need to learn “this” baby’s cues; the cry of hunger, the cry from being wet, uncomfortable, tired….seasoned mamas know that every child is different, and it takes time to learn the needs and habits of their new little one. Likewise, a newborn is being bombarded with a whole world full of new cues and stimuli. The one thing that this little one needs to know is that when he/she cries, Mama (or some other caregiver) will be there to take care of them. This is the crux of the “fourth trimester” those 8-12 weeks in the early post partum when mamas and babies get to know one another, know each others cues and form their own “communication.”

Breastfeeding – I have said it before but it bears repeating; Breastfeeding is natural but it isn’t always easy. Some baby and mama duos have a hard time establishing a rhythm for breastfeeding. Getting into comfortable positions, establishing a good latch, baby being able to suck and swallow, mom not experiencing nipple pain,…this can all take time. Asian cultures have “The Golden Month” which is the first 40 days after a mama delivers. The women of her clan come and care for her, her family, her home and the baby so that she can rest and breastfeed. Mama does no housework, in fact, mama not only doesn’t leave the house, she stays mostly in bed! The elder women prepare nourishing foods and perform time honored rituals that help mama regain her strength-and establish good milk supply.

Out of necessity, here in the US many mamas must be back at work by 6 weeks. They may or may not have established their milk supply. Many will try to pump at work, but many work places don’t have adequate facilities nor provide adequate breaks in which a woman may pump and store her milk, and clean her supplies. Sadly, this situation results in many American women not breastfeeding beyond 6 months.

According to one of my favorite websites, Post Partum Progressapproximately 15% of Post Partum American women will have post partum depressive symptoms annually. That equates to approximately 600,000 American women! Many women won’t begin to exhibit symptoms for 60 days, well after the standard 6 week post partum visit. So many American women are undiagnosed, untreated and bogged down with the inability to focus, care for their babies, themselves or their families. Post partum depression is a serious medical condition as it can progress into a major depression (sometimes requiring hospitalization) or progress to post partum psychosis which can be deadly. Women with post partum depression need immediate medical attention so that they don’t hurt themselves or their babies. More important, post partum women need careful, longer term surveillance post partum, with many experts recommending that post partum health surveillance last throughout the first year!

Bodily Injury – Due to the pressure of the pregnancy on the pelvic floor and the subsequent pushing and stretching that occurred with labor and delivery, many women lose muscular tone in their perineums and experience prolapse-when a woman’s inner organs (mostly the uterus, bladder and rectum) present outside of her body. I see this primarily in women who begin too rigorous of an exercise program too soon. While not only being uncomfortable, organ prolapse can cause serious medical complications. Currently, with the exception of (mild) bladder prolapse for which a pessary can be placed to tuck the organ back up into the pelvis, the treatment for organ prolapse is surgery. Do you see the irony? While trying too aggressively to get back into shape (after bedrest?) you can land yourself back in bed! Ladies, a gentle walk with your baby in the stroller, yoga or prenatal/post partum fitness classes are the best way to get back into shape while being gentle with your body. Always remember,

“Nine months on, Nine Months off!”

I hope that these tips have helped you to remember the wonderfully fabulous beings that you are! Mamas, you’ve created and given life and that is far more important and worth celebrating than the latest celebrity siting!

 

What are your tips for getting back into the groove post partum? Share them in our comments section below and help another mama!