Do you have dreams of a magical Baby Moon when you'll do nothing but glow from oxytocin and stare longingly into your new babe's eyes? While planning for your ideal birth, it's just as important to plan for the period afterwards. Birth is like the wedding day and the postpartum period (and beyond) is like a marriage... more dirty work and significantly less glamorous. When you're pregnant with your first child it can be difficult (almost impossible!) to imagine that life with your new baby could be anything but perfect. We like to think that our love for our children is enough to get us smoothly through the trials of early parenthood, but that's not always the case. The combination of hormonal fluctuations, exhaustion, social isolation, and financial stress can push even the most prepared parent into a serious mood disorder.
Did you know that....
Though the baby blues and mood disorders can't always be avoided, there are certain steps you can take to lessen your chances and prepare for the beautiful postpartum period you imagine and deserve.
1) Practice Lying-In
Basically, America does postpartum WRONG! Here we're expected to birth a baby, go grocery shopping, clean the house and prepare dinner for visiting and doting relatives. In reality, that's a great way to pass a blood clot the size of a lemon, exhaust yourself and miss out on some serious bonding with your newest addition. Other cultures practice 30-40 days of "lying-in". This is where you and baby hang out in bed while family and friends take care of housework, older siblings and meal prep, allowing for faster healing, the opportunity to process the majorly transformative event that is childbirth and learn the quirks and challenges of feeding your new little one. Lying in is important for all new mothers, but is especially vital for mothers who birthed by cesarean section!
Not sure you can manage your household from the horizontal position? That's when it's time to call in some extra hands....
2) Say "Yes" to Help
Now is not the time to be a hero. When they say "it takes a village", trust them. After giving birth, you need help. Sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little. Good thing almost everyone wants to help when there's a new baby involved. Mothers, mothers' friends, mothers-in-law, sisters, neighbors, church ladies, aunts, strangers at Central Market... they all want to help. Take them up on it.
So when someone asks, "What can I do to help?", give them an answer! Here's a few ideas of what to ask for if you're unsure of what you'll need.
3) Get a Massage
No matter how you birth or feed your baby, your body will likely ache. Massage in the newly postpartum period is less of a luxury and more of a step towards homeostasis. The normal anxieties of parenting, plus waking up every two hours to feed a creature who's completely dependent on you, can wreak serious havoc on your nervous system and throw you into a fight or flight response that's hard to shake and you just can't think your way out of. Massage is a lovely and gentle way to coax your body back into relaxation and say "Yes, this is okay. I'm okay. My body can feel good again. I can recover". Massage helps your whole body take a breath and slip back into the relaxing parasympathetic nervous system that encourages faster healing, allowing you to be more present for yourself and your baby.
Not sure how massage works when you're leaking from just about everywhere and you can't imagine getting in the car or being away from your baby for more than 20 minutes? I take care of all of that and come to you! I love working with new moms who aren't quite sure what to do with their newly postpartum bodies. We set up the massage table in your home and get you comfortable. Baby is nearby with dad or grandma and can stop in to nurse as needed. No worries if baby needs to be close the whole time, as he or she can lie with you on the table and you can both be blissed out from a healing and recuperative massage.
Like what you've read so far? Stay tuned for three more practical and simple tips for a healthier and happier postpartum period!
Beyond the "Baby Blues". Harvard Mental Health Letter. September 2011.
M. Diego. Moderate pressure massage elicits a parasympathetic nervous system response. PubMed.gov. 2009.
Canadian Mental Health Association
Effective January 1, 2016 Women Have the Right to Retain Their Placenta in Texas
Texas women can now have their baby, and keep their placenta too. HB 1670, known as the Texas Placenta Bill, was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on June 17, 2015. It passed in the Senate on May 26, 2015, with unanimous support (31-0). The new law allows mothers to keep their placenta after the birth of their baby in any Texas hospital or birthing center.
This is a major win for personal liberty, informed consent and choice for Texas women.
Previously before this new law, Texas classified placentas as medical waste, and every hospital in Texas has their own individual policy regarding the release of placentas.
This policy differed drastically, even among hospitals in the same city. Some hospitals simply required the mother to sign a release of liability form, and others required an expensive, and time consuming court order signed by a judge. Placentas were also released to a funeral home, since the placenta is considered an organ. Some hospitals simply refused to release the placenta all together.
Many women and families choose to retain their placenta after birth for various reasons. Some women choose to consume their placenta, most often in a dehydrated encapsulated pill form, after birth to help in their postpartum recovery. This practice helps replenish the iron and hormones that are lost after birth, which helps the mother recover both emotionally and physically. Families also retain their placenta to plant a tree in honor or memory of their baby, or part of a ceremonial practice.
The origin of this bill began after Melissa Mathis, a Dallas resident, was denied the right to her placenta after delivering her baby at Baylor University Medical Center in April 2014. During November election campaigning, Representative Kenneth Sheets literally came knocking on her front door. When Mathis answered the door, Sheets asked if there were any issues she was concerned about that he could address.
She told him the story of her placenta, and the lack of personal liberty she first-hand experienced. Sheets listened, and took action. A few months later HB 1670 was drafted and filed in February 2015.
Mathis created a grass roots campaign to build awareness for HB 1670. The Facebook group Pass the Placenta! (HB 1670) was created in March 2015 with regular posts on the status of the bill, and how women and families across Texas could take action to support the bill.
Within a few short months, the group has more than 500 active members. Through the dedicated efforts of the authors of this bill, committee members, Representative Sheets and his staff, and the wide-spread community support, HB 1670 passed in the Texas House of Representatives on May 13, and passed in the Senate on May 26, 2015.
The passing of this bill was significant for women’s rights in Texas. Regardless of what any woman wants to do with her placenta after the birth of her baby, it is now her choice.