Posts Tagged: Postpartum Care

Article Thumbnail

Maternal Healthcare Inequality- Why It Exists and What You Can Do

There are so many aspects that we need to work on to create lasting change- but one that hits closest to home for me since I am so involved in women’s health is maternal healthcare inequality. As a practitioner who is passionate about women’s health, after I began researching I was honestly embarrassed to realize the extent of my ignorance on this issue. I pledge to do better in continuing to educate myself, looking at my own unconscious bias as well as spreading awareness and donating to organizations which are making meaningful change.

Did you know that Black women in the USA are 3-4 times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than their white counterparts? In New York City, the rate is 12 times higher.

Why is this happening? I’ve been reading through many articles on the topic, and while I still have a lot of learning to do, I’ve found that researchers agree it has little to nothing to do with lifestyle factors (diet, etc), access to high quality healthcare or any genetic predisposition.

According to Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, research shows that “Black women who live in affluent neighborhoods, receive prenatal care in the first trimester, are normal weight, and have advanced degrees are still more likely to die or have their baby die than white women in poor neighborhoods, with no prenatal care, who are obese, and don’t have a high school diploma.”

We must do better. The main factors that researchers believe are responsible for increased maternal and infant mortality in the USA  are implicit (unconscious) bias on the part of healthcare practitioners as well as “weathering”, which is the cumulative physical effects of exposure to discrimination, leading to poorer health outcomes.

What can we do?  I am still learning and researching, but studies show that one solution is making free or low cost doulas available for pregnant people who can’t afford them. This additional support during pregnancy and postpartum results in improved outcomes and can literally be a lifesaving solution. We must support the community organizations that provide doula services so that they can serve more women and fairly compensate the doulas. This is not the only solution, but does help to fill in the gaps while our society works to address the underlying issue of racism.

EDUCATION STEPS:

  • Read Chapter 8 of the book “Babies are Not Pizzas” by Rebecca Dekker, RN, PhD. This chapter has generously been made available for free online- scroll to the bottom of the page for the pdf
  • Read through some of the articles on this page from Every Mother Counts, especially the first section on “The Impact of Systemic Racism on Black Maternal Health”. Please read a few articles, but if you’re just going to pick one from this list, I recommend this one.
  • Watch this short TED Talk to learn more about the effects of cumulative stress during pregnancy as well as the clinic model described in the third action step (below)

ACTION STEPS:

Article Thumbnail

Acupressure Points To Help With Breastfeeding

I recently wrote a guest blog post for Boober, a fantastic service here in NYC which provides on-demand lactation consultations. It’s so important for new parents to get help as quickly as possible when issues pop up. The sooner you can get help, the more likely you are to be able to breastfeed in the way that you had hoped.

Acupressure can be a very useful addition to your treatment plan, but above all I recommend consulting with a lactation professional for one-on-one help.

Read the article for three of my favorite breastfeeding points- one for milk let-down, another for after-pains and the last one for anxiety, insomnia and relaxing the chest.

Check out the article on the Boober Blog!

Article Thumbnail

What Nobody Talks About During Pregnancy: Your Postpartum Health

Prenatally, we tend to focus on mom and how she can optimize her health for her benefit and the benefit of the baby. However in the postpartum period, our culture seems to completely focus on baby and mom’s well-being is forgotten. This attitude is also reflected in postpartum medical care in the USA. Generally, the baby goes for their first pediatrician visit just a few days after birth, but mom’s first visit with her OB isn’t until a whopping 6 weeks after the delivery!

Thankfully, recently there has been more media attention to this problem (see this great guide in the New York Times). The American Academy of Pediatrics has even recommended that new moms be screened by their child’s pediatrician for postpartum anxiety and depression. In my and many others’ opinion, this is a positive step, but more support for new moms is needed. Until healthcare systems in the USA begin providing appropriate levels of support to new parents, you must develop a plan for your postpartum health during pregnancy. After the baby is born it will likely feel much too overwhelming. Read more

Article Thumbnail

Having A Healthy 4th Trimester: Q&A with Amber Star Merkens, Postpartum Doula

Before I met Amber Star Merkens, I had no idea postpartum doulas existed. I immediately had a ton of questions for her because I became so excited about the idea that there are professionals available to help new moms out- this is seriously something everyone needs to know about! If you think doulas are only helping during labor, think again, and read on!

 

What is a doula?

The term doula literally means a woman’s helper. Read more