Birth Trauma

Mamas on Bedrest: Resources to beat the “Baby Blues”

October 23rd, 2013

Hey Mamas, Happy Video Wednesday!

In this video, I’m sharing resources for managing perinatal mood disorders. Following the death of a mama at the US Capitol who was battling post partum depression, this information needs to be in every mama’s arsenal. Those of you who love mamas should also be familiar with these resources, as you may be the one to identify the changed mood of mama. Whatever your role, please don’t let perinatal mood disorders go unchecked. As we saw, the consequences of doing nothing can have permanent, far reaching, very tragic effects.

Resources:

Walker Karraa

Post Partum Progress

Dr. Diane Sanford

Post Partum Support International

Mamas on Bedrest: Our culture is woefully ignorant about perinatal mood disorders

July 22nd, 2013

Our culture still has a lot to learn about perinatal mood disorders.

Today’s post is in response to a very well written blog by my friend and colleague Walker Karraa who is speaking out against a CNN television special about Andrea Yates, the former Houston Texas mother who killed her 5 children in a psychotic break. This tragedy occurred in 2001 and still, after all this time, after numerous psychiatric evaluations, court hearings and appeals, CNN is airing a documentary that has the undertone that Andrea Yates was not at all mentally ill and she willfully and purposely killed her 5 children. I encourage you all to read  Walker’s guest blog post on Post Partum Progress, and if you feel so lead, watch the documentary on CNN (it will be aired 3 times!!). Between the two, I come away asking, “Is this trip really necessary?”

Andrea Yates was the mother of 5 children who developed severe post partum psychosis after the birth of her 5th child and killed her children “as instructed” from voices she “heard.” She had battled a severe case of post partum depression after the birth of her 4th child, had attempted suicide and had been admitted to a mental institution for treatment. She was reportedly “stable” but the couple had been advised not to have any more children as Andrea would likely suffer a psychiotic break. Unfortunately, she and her husband Rusty continued on with their mission “to have as many children as nature allowed”, and sadly shortly after the birth of their only daughter, their 5th child, Andrea became psychotic and killed her children.

Childbearing is not an easy process. While a joyous and often eagerly anticipated event, It taxes every system in a woman’s body. While the vast majority of women will have uneventful pregnancies, labors and deliveries, we know that approximately 750,000 American women will be prescribed bed rest during their pregnancies annually. According to Katherine Stone, the author and owner of Post Partum Progress, an award winning blog and website on post partum depression, an average of 15% of all pregnancies result in some form of perinatal mood disorder. Katherine breaks down the numbers of women annually who suffer post partum mood disorders and this number equates to 950,000 women!

The sad truth is that our culture is woefully ignorant about the perils and pitfalls of pregnancy and childbearing and simply assumes,

“Having a baby is a natural occurrence. All animals do it. None of them receive any extra support, so why should women??”

So when something goes wrong and there are complications, people are equally baffled. Yet, few people are willing to acknowledge that every time a woman becomes pregnant, she puts her life on the line to bring forth another life. We don’t acknowledge the risks involved, the strains on all of her physiological systems-and this includes her mental health system.

How incredible would it be if we put as much effort into screening for and providing support and treatment for perinatal mood disorders as we do demonizing them? What if CNN and its shows sponsors took the money that they put into this documentary and donated it towards perinatal mood disorder screening an treatments instead of attempting to boost their own ratings and sales from a most tragic event? What if, if they so strongly felt the need to produce and air this documentary, they then turned around and provided outlets for people to learn more? Instead of this being a “Look what a monster Andrea Yates is and she got away with her crime!” CNN and its show sponsors could have approached this tragedy with, “This was a shocking tragedy. Let’s make sure it never happens again!” 

So what has this got to do with Mamas on Bedrest? Everything! According to statistics from the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 8 women prescribed bed rest will develop post partum depression. And this is the number for only post partum depression. This number does not include ante partum mood disorders or any other mental health disorders that may occur during their pregnancies, labor or deliveries. The numbers don’t account for the mothers who lose their children before they have a chance to be born. The numbers don’t include those mothers who experience traumatic births. And these numbers consist mostly of mothers who report their post partum depression. How many cases go undocumented? Undiagnosed??

I am going to make a point to watch this CNN broadcast and will report back after viewing. I hope that I am pleasantly surprised and that the broadcast will highlight the pitfalls of perinatal mood disorders and what we can do to help women who suffer them.  I am not holding out much hope that this is the case, but I want to have an open mind and do my best to present all sides to a story. So stay tuned and I will report back after viewing!

 

Mamas On Bedrest: FMLA is “Useless” for 40% of The Workforce

February 25th, 2013

Hey Mamas,

I was just cruising through my e-mails and got a Google alert about Family Medical Leave (FMLA). The article, published on Journalgazette.net, chronicles the story of Danelle Buchman of Clarkesville, MD. Buchman lost her job as a result of being out, and nearly dying, giving birth to her second daughter.

Buchman, now a mama of 2 little girls, had a uterine artery rupture while she was pregnant with her second daughter at 32 weeks gestation. Her daughter was delivered by emergency c-section and Buchman had an emergent hysterectomy to save her own life. When Buchman recovered and returned to her job, she was first demoted and given a 33% salary cut. She was subsequently fired. It’s not that Buchman had done anything wrong, quite the contrary. She had an outstanding employment record. But her time off due to illness resulted in her termination.

This is not unusual. The US Department of Labor conducted a study and they found that 40% of employees are not eligible for the unpaid leave with job protection benefit offered by FMLA. While this law has been on the books for 20 years now, a full 40% of US employees cannot benefit from it because they work for companies that employ fewer than 50 employees, were employed for less than a year with the particular company or had already used the FMLA benefit within the past 24 months and are hence exempt from the FMLA provisions. So Buchman who was out fighting, for her life, was legally fired as a result.

The law is also very difficult to enforce. Companies are not always obligated to allow the unpaid leave and there have been nearly 6000 court cases against companies that fired workers or otherwise penalized them for taking advantage of FMLA.

Once again, The lack of any sort of paid family leave is leaving families in a financial lurch. It is a travesty that the United States has such little regards for families. The United States, along with Papau New Guinea and Swaziland remain the only countries out of 177 that offer no sort of paid parental medical leave. And while family friendly organization such as the National Partnership for Women and Families and Working Mother are fighting diligently for paid family leave, that reality is still, by many estimates, years away. And that won’t help people like Buchman.

“I was lucky. My husband had a job, and we went into crazy credit card debt. But so many people who don’t have the support system I had are one accident, one illness away from losing their livelihood.”

And that is the fearful fate of many Americans. We can do better and we here at Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond will continue to support and help those on the front lines continue this all important fight.