The Horizon

By the Welcome Baby Care Doulas

Of course, as postpartum doulas, we are extremely proud of the work that we do.  Nothing compares to entering a home to find a puffy eyed and ashen faced mother glaring at her frazzled and visibly exhausted partner; then working hard to leave that same family cuddling on the couch—calm, content, fed, and rested.

The work that we do changes lives, saves lives, rescues marriages, solidifies the bond between mother and child.  In our crazy go-go-go do-do-do smart phone/tablet/constant update culture, we bring it back to basics.  Cave level basics, if we can.  Nature and nurture.  What clean sheets and a green smoothie can do for the day’s outlook.  What nonjudgmental advice and a sympathetic ear can do for one’s clouded perspective.

We are miracle workers who do it all—whatever it takes to keep the family afloat, support the crucial family ties that are so easily broken in this vulnerable period of recovery, and allow the mother to heal and transition.

Every family is different and requires a specific chain of events and type of assistance to keep them on the path of emotional and physical wellness.  Our work may often involve elbow grease, dishpan hands, and dirty diapers, but make no mistake—the scope of practice is vast and the level of expertise sophisticated.  Postpartum caregivers fit themselves into the lives of an extremely varied spectrum of characters; some of them want our presence known, others prefer that we make ourselves invisible.

What I’m getting to is this:  our work is valuable.  Crucial.  It is extremely gratifying to give a newly expanded family this foundation and muse on how that one little happy family can help better society.  The trickle down effects of giving one mom and baby a great start are profound, but it must be admitted that there is frustration in not being able to do more.

What more can we do when we already do it all?

Well, we could—we would like to—help more moms.

See, many families can’t afford significant postpartum care and many new mothers think of our service as a luxury.  In other countries, however, postpartum recovery is recognized, subsidized, and accepted as a need.  In the Netherlands, post-birth mothers and babies receive 10 days of in-home care from kraamverzorgsters—specialists who receive extensive training and help with household work, infant care, and postpartum recovery.  Basically, they are doulas.  Covered by insurance.  For every new mother.

In both Norway and China, a stay in a maternal recovery facility is part of the package.

Beyond professional assistance, governments support postpartum health in the form of a long leave for working mothers.  In Sweden mothers get 1 full year at home and receive 80% of their salary.  Finnish mothers get 1 year of leave supported by a state grant.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  Sounds right. 

It is outrageous to realize that in America—the country that the rest of the world looks to in terms of knowledge, innovation, and power—we don’t even have the sense to start at the beginning, with the birth of a child.  A large perecentage of our population is made up of mothers; and everyone begins as a baby.  Why are we dropping the ball?  Why do we either push relentlessly or otherwise overlook these most important members of society?

We need our moms to recover.  We need our babies to feel connected before they stumble into the unfortunate blemishes of a modern, disjointed world—violence, gadget fixation, materialism, and shallow but instant gratification.  Doesn’t is seem that a proper bond in the beginning helps put these things in perspective later in life?

We need insurance coverage for postpartum care to match that of prenatal.  We need to pull open the blinds on epidemic postpartum mood disorder.  We need books written specifically for grandmothers and aunties and friends, instructing them on all things postpartum so that they may better help their recovering loved ones.  We need employers to wake up and realize that fully connected, emotionally sound, truly rested mothers will make up in productivity what may have been lost in time off.  Employers should pay for doulas!  The boss of one of our clients did.  A drop in the bucket for his company to have his project manager—a new father—rested, available, and on the job.

Welcome Baby Care is currently creating curriculum and care packages for corporations.  We are encouraging our clients to submit insurance claims.  We are tapping on a dense door that needs to be beaten down.  Care to help us with what must be on our nation’s horizon?  Here’s what you can do:

-Write a proposal for your H.R. office outlining real maternal care that includes a true postpartum recovery.

-Talk to your insurance company.

-Submit claims.

-Write to your local representative about possible government subsidized postpartum care.

-Talk to hospitals, lactation consultant, chiropractors, and yoga teachers about the importance of recogonizing the vulnerability of moms and babies.

-Write an op-ed piece about maternity/postpartum care.

-Believe that change can happen.

Our hopes are not lofty.  We’re not asking for utopia, or even anything close.  We’re just asking that every mother and child—yes EVERY mother and child—receive the care they need.