Family support

Stepping into the Global Prenatal Initiative on Behalf of Mamas on Bedrest!

May 16th, 2014

Global Prenatal InitiativeGreetings Mamas!!

A few weeks ago (March 21st to be exact) I introduced you to the Global Prenatal Initiative. Well, things have been heating up since that post and I want to give you an update-mainly because I have jumped in with both feet and am involved with organizing the US Prenatal Education Association!

No one is more acutely aware of the shortcomings in US prenatal care than Mamas on Bedrest. While it is safe to say the we receive prenatal care, in many instances one would be loathe to say that it is patient centered, baby friendly or offering a compassionate start to our little ones. And while many of the interventions that Mamas on Bedrest endure are necessary, how they are administered and how Mamas on Bedrest are cared for are often lacking in the compassion and nurturing department.

The foundation principle of the Global Prenatal Initiative is,

“The time spent in the womb is the foundation for long-term health, emotional security, intelligence, creativity and much more for every human being. It is vital that the link between these early stages of human development, their long-term impact and the current global challenges be known.”

~ Julie Gerland, GPI Co-Founder and Director

Dr. Gerland and other members of the United Nations have been collaborating to improve maternity outcomes and have come to the very reasonable conclusion that to make any sort of appreciable impact on our cultural deficiencies and disparities, it is imperative that we focus on human development-namely improving birth outcomes and in turn, life expectancy and quality of life. Their major focuses are:

  1. Confronting family poverty
  2. Ensuring work-family balance
  3. Advancing social integration
  4. Inter-generational solidarity

This is all well and good, but what does this mean for Mamas on Bedrest exactly???

  1. It means empowering mamas about what they can do to feel safe, secure and healthy during pregnancy.
  2. It means empowering mamas to provide safe, secure environments for their babies to develop and grow-both in utero and externally. We have to remember, whatever mama is experiencing during her pregnancy, her baby is also experiencing. As much as possible, we want those experiences to be peaceful and to have positive impacts on baby’s growth and development.
  3. It means working with both parents in the pre-conception and prenatal periods to foster healthy relationships, ones in which as much as possible both parents stay connected (not necessarily married) and involved in the lifelong growth and development of the baby.

Mamas, We already know so much of this! We know what it’s like for our families to face financial challenges because we go on bed rest and are not paid while we are not working. We know what it’s like to lose a job because we go on bed rest! We know what it is like to have to choose to nurture our children on bed rest in lieu of pursuing a career. We know what it is like to try to navigate bed rest without the support of family. We could (wo)man these panels ourselves and give birds eye views of what life is like when we don’t have the resources necessary for a peaceful pregnancies. And while all of you are welcome to step up in support of the Global Prenatal Initiative, I am stepping in and stepping up on behalf of high risk pregnant women, the Mamas on Bedrest. Stepping into this community of global prenatal health workers, it is my intention to not only represent Mamas on Bedrest but to also be your eyes, your ears and most importantly-YOUR VOICE! This is the chance for our voices to be heard, for our stories to be told and for the management of high risk pregnancies to be evaluated and changed as necessary to suit the needs of Mamas on Bedrest. I am counting on you all to speak up! I am counting on you all to tell me exactly what you needed when you were on bed rest; what would have made bed rest bearable and more successful. In return, I will relay your thoughts and request to my colleagues in the association, as well as to the pertinent United Nations sub-committees on human growth, development and overall well being.

The time has come, Mamas! We have the chance to change the course of prenatal care and birth outcomes for generations to come! Most importantly, we have the chance to make much needed changes in the care of high risk pregnancy!



Mamas on Bedrest: Support for those supporting Mamas on Bedrest

August 12th, 2013

One of the most difficult things to do is to watch someone you love in pain. So for those of us who are mamas, imagine watching your child in pain? Most of us would gladly suffer any sort of pain or difficulty to spare our child suffering. But the reality is that our children are here on this earth on their own journeys, and those journeys include periods of pain and suffering.

If you are a member of our Facebook community, you know that we have been praying for and virtually supporting a Mama on Bedrest named Amber. Amber is a first time mama pregnant with a baby boy she has already named Christian. Amber has developed a severe case of Pre-eclampsia and is in critical condition. Her doctors have been doing everything possible to lower Amber’s blood pressures and to stabilize her body (under major stress and strain) so that Amber can remain pregnant for as long as possible and give Baby Christian the best possible start.

At the current time, Amber’s body has endured about all that it can and her doctors are determining at what point it will be necessary to deliver Christian. In the meantime, Amber’s husband Brett has had to stand by and watch, helplessly, as his wife battles for her life and the life of their unborn child. Likewise, Amber’s mother Kelley is watching in agony as her(bold italics) baby fights to give birth to a baby of her own.

While it is clear that Amber needs our love, support and prayers, we cannot forget that those around her, her loved ones, need love and support too! Studies show that caring for caregivers and supporters of those who are ill is as important (or more so) as supporting the ill family member! One must always remember, ill family members have a whole team of medical professionals tending to their every bodily need; they are feed, hydrated, medicated and a much as possible, kept comfortable. This is NOT the case for family members and loved ones! They are often keeping constant vigil at the hospital, maybe eating maybe not, are typically sleep deprived and sometimes have not showered or tended to their own personal needs in days. So as we continue to pray for and send healing thoughts to Amber and Christian, what should be done for her husband, her mother and other loved ones keeping vigil?

1. Bring nurtritous meals and snacks to the family. We all know that hospital food is less than tasty. Healthy, nutritious meals and snacks that require no heating and if possible no utensils are a great help to those keeping vigil. Sandwiches, dips (such as hummus) fresh fruits and vegetables, crackers or other flat breads along with water and juices are often best. Bringing such a meal in a cooler will enable loved ones to graze as they so desire. (often loved ones have little to no appetite, so it is best to avoid heavy meals and snacks!)

2. Come, sit and listen. Sometimes the best support is simply your presence. It’s hard to imagine the fear, anxiety and physical stress that Brett and Kelley and other loved ones are facing. So don’t try to wax philosophical. Let family members share as they need to. Hug them, hold them, but mostly listen to them. Sit quitely beside them. It’s not about what you (bold italic) do and how you feel doing it, its about being present for whatever support the family needs.

3. Offer to tend to matters at home. With all the focus on Amber and her baby, if there is a pet at home, they too are pretty stressed due to all the tension and change in schedule. Offering to walk and care for the dog or cat-or perhaps getting the pet to a kennel takes added weight off the shoulders of the family. Bring in the newspaper, collect the mail. Offer to do a light cleaning and tidying to the house. (Or pay for a housekeeper to come in and tidy up!) With all eyes focused on events at the hospital, it would be a great help to have someone handling the home front.

4. Help care for the older children. Many mamas on bed rest have older children at home. Imagine how confusing it must be to a toddler if mama is suddenly gone, you can’t see her and all the adults in your world are frantic? Likewise, school aged children may feel anxious because tasks normally done by mama are being done by someone else or not at all? Older children often hold tremendous guilt and anxiety for not being able to help or to ease the situation. If you cannot help at the hospital, perhaps helping at the home is best.

UPDATE: Little Christian was born on August 9 at 2:42 pm. He weighed in at 1lb 9 oz. Please continue to pray for Amber, Christian, Amber’s husband Brett, her mother Kelley and the rest of her loved ones keeping vigil for her in your prayers.