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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

 

6 Weeks Paid Family Leave in 2018 Federal Budget Proposal!

May 25th, 2017

President Donald Trump has proposed that employees be granted 6 weeks paid family leave for the birth of a child (each for mothers and fathers!) or the adoption of a child. Under the proposed plan, states would be required to provide leave payments through existing unemployment insurance programs or would have to identify cuts or tax hikes, as needed, to cover the costs.

Now as most of you know, paid family leave is something that I have advocated for since the beginning of Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond in 2009. Currently the United States is one of 4 nations that doesn’t offer paid leave; Lesotho, Swaziland and Papau New Guinea are the other nations. Instead, we have the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which entitles workers to 12 weeks of unpaid leave with guarantee of their job in order to care for a new baby, ill family member or themselves if they’ve worked for their employer for a year. However, this particular law has a slew of loopholes, not the least of which is that if a company is small, i.e. less than 50 members, the employer doesn’t have to abide by FMLA and if an employee is absent too much, the employer can fire them.

Paid medical leave is long overdue, but given our current administration, I am guardedly optimistic. The Republican party has long been against any sort of government intervention as it pertains to family and social services and this current administration is doing all that it can to dismantle many of our social safety net programs. So while I am excited to see families may finally be able to spend time with their new children or to take time to address pressing health issues, I’m skeptical that it’s really going to happen.

What concerns me about this proposal is that it hasn’t been clearly thought out by the administration. It’s a great eye catcher and liberals like me get all pumped-until we actually take a hard look at the proposal. There is not clear cut way to fund this proposal or a way to enforce it. Making states fund paid family leave, how will that work? What will be the repercussions if states don’t fund paid leave?  Historically, when states have been given the latitude to “govern” as they see fit, what often happens is that laws don’t take effect. A perfect example of this has been the Affordable Care Act. States were given the ability to “govern” as they saw fit and many states filed lawsuits against the bill, failed to accept allotted funds (Texas!!), didn’t expand Medicaid, and many insurers simply pulled out of the marketplace all together leaving those (of us) in the system with very few (affordable) health insurance options. Leaving paid family leave up to the states will again result in states with a high degree of social consciousness to implement a programs, and the rest will just simply let the legislation sit on someone’s desk and gather dust while it is “discussed” in legislative committees. Sadly, in many cases, those needing the provision of the proposal won’t get what they need.

Now we know that paid leave can be done. Currently California, Rhode Island, Washington, New Jersey, New York and the District of Columbia have paid family leave programs. These states and municipalities have made the commitment to their constituents and have found the way to fund paid leave-even when the federal government said “No”. One would think that the federal government would have looked at these programs and crafted a national program, or even recommended that representatives from these states help other states get their programs up and running. No. Nope. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

So once again, there has been a grand declaration that supporters are hailing as progress, and presidential supporters are saying that the president has kept his campaign promise. Supporters are also giving credit for the legislation to First Daughter Ivanks Trump for encouraging her father to craft such a proposal. But those of us who have been advocating for this legislation for years know the devil is in the details. Without a clear mandate, without a clear means of implementation and without funding, this proposal simply isn’t going to happen. I most certainly hope that I am wrong because paid family leave is very much needed in this country. But until I see a concrete plan of how paid leave is going to work, how each state will develop and implement their individual programs, how states will be held accountable for developing and implementing the programs, how the programs will be funded and how accessible the programs will be to ALL citizens, I will be holding off on the victory champagne and streamers .

How do you feel about paid medical leave? Have you used FMLA? How did it work for you? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

References:

US Department of Labor

MomsRising.org

Healthcare.gov

 

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