Mamas on Bedrest: When Mamas Pray For One Another…

August 5th, 2013

I’m on a bit of a high.

Last week I received a frantic message from a relative of a mama on bed rest. Mama was in critical condition with pre-eclampsia and none of the medication was having any effect on her sky high blood pressure. At just shy of 27 weeks, both mama and baby were struggling. This loved one found the Mamas on Bedrest community and posted her plea for prayers for her goddaughter. And the mamas got busy.

In a matter of moments some 695 mamas had read the post. Several responded that they were actively praying. Others, I can only assume, were quietly praying or sending healing vibes towards mama and baby. But none the less, there was action. And the action, in addition to the excellent medical care, paid off. In the most recent post from the relative, mama’s blood pressures are normal, mama is off meds, baby is fine and mama is now at 28 weeks gestation!

In the past several weeks we have had a bevy of activity in our community. Mamas have come and shared their experiences, their needs and their triumphs. We have seen babies born and mamas doing well in what would seem like the most unlikely and unfortunate circumstances. What initially looked like catastrophe often ended up being the very best outcome! More “logical” minds would attribute this to modern medicine and serendipity. But I believe that something stronger, and yet simpler was taking place. In nearly every situation, when a mama shared with us her situation, her fear and her immediate need, the rest of us got busy; praying, sharing words of encouragement or simply holding the mama in our hearts.

It seems to have ignited something within all of us and I like it! I believe that we are seeing the power of communalism, the characteristic identified by Dr. Cleopatra Abdou in her study, Communalism predicts prenatal affect, stress, and physiology better than ethnicity and socioeconomic status. According to Dr. Abdou, communalism is,

“A cultural orientation emphasizing interdependence, to maternal prenatal emotional health and physiology and distinguished its effects from those of ethnicity and childhood and adult SES.”

In simple terms, Dr. Abdou and her colleagues looked at how bringing women together during pregnancy, especially women who share common backgrounds and experiences, to share ideas and to support one another positively affected birth outcomes. She found that women who had social support, community, fared better during pregnancy and had better birth outcomes-regardless of their age, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status,

“…communalism was a more robust predictor of prenatal emotional health than ethnicity, childhood SES, and adult SES. Communalism also interacted with ethnicity and SES, resulting in lower blood pressure during pregnancy for African American women and women who experienced socioeconomic disadvantage over the life course. The effects of communalism on prenatal affect, stress, and physiology were not explained by depressive symptoms at study entry, perceived availability of social support, self-esteem, optimism, mastery, nor pregnancy-specific factors, including whether the pregnancy was planned, whether the pregnancy was desired after conception, or how frequently the woman felt happy to be pregnant. This suggests that a communal cultural orientation benefits maternal prenatal emotional health and physiology over and above its links to better understood personal and social resources in addition to economic resources.”

When I first read Dr. Abdou’s findings, I was excited and still a bit skeptical. Can women coming together really affect birth outcomes? But after the last few weeks, seeing mamas going to term and beyond, having the births of their dreams, giving birth at all and all the babies coming into this world, I am more than convinced that a supportive community is at least in part responsible and necessary.

So how will this play out for Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond? We’re going to keep doing what we are doing, but increase our efforts. I will be calling on you from to share your experiences, your wisdom and expertise, (yes, you are now all experts!!) with mamas “in the trenches”. Mamas, we have an incredible power to see one another through pregnancy difficulties and beyond. What you may see as a monumental mishap in your own life, may provide the very answers another mama needs to navigate a similar situation in her life. But we must come together and share ideas. Isolation is our enemy and as I have written previously, the initial experiences with “the bed rest prescription” more than bore this out!

We are a powerful community and we are growing by leaps and bounds (with mamas in our community from as far away as Belgium, India and Australia!!) ! Let’s keep this momentum going! Congratulations to all the mamas who have delivered and welcome to all the new babies who are gracing us with their presence!

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