This week, one of my local birth centers is facing the possibility of closing. And for what? The higher ups don't see it as financially sustainable, that it doesn't have a high usage rate and to them, isn't needed. To those of us who have been there, seen and experienced the miracles that happen there every day, we know how needed this center is. So what are we doing? We are pushing back and hoping it doe something.
There is power in our voices. They can calm our children, brighten someone's day, invoke change.
Whether it is asking for a product to be carried at your favorite store or pleading for a beloved community resource to be spared, our voices matter. Maybe I have been watching too many political dramas, but call me crazy to think that our voices could bring change to how women are served and treated when having their babies.
Today I want to touch on bringing your voice to your insurance company. Most of my clients have insurance but pay for my services out of pocket. For those who have Health Savings accounts, doula care is an accepted expense. Some insurance companies have started to cover doulas and I think more should get on board. The average cost for a vaginal delivery is around $30K, give or take depending on your state and facility used. Research has proven that having a doula on one's birth team helps reduce the need for pain medication, decreases labor times and lowers the probability of cesarean section; rates of postpartum issues also decline which help mom and baby in the long run. Why should this matter to an insurance company? Doulas save them money. But this fact alone won't get them on the bandwagon. You, the consumer, need to use your voice and ask for it to be a priority. I tell my clients to check with their insurance companies if they cover doula care and if not, they should write them and ask them to make it a covered benefit. Even if you know your insurance doesn't, write them anyway. I will also throw this out there for those wanting midwifery care. I have spoken with many women would love to have a midwife but paying for the expense out of pocket makes it an option that some can't afford (the average home birth is around $4,500).
If you have used a doula in the past, write your insurance executives and let them know your experience. If you are wanting doula care, write your insurance carrier and let them know how a doula on your team can help you and them at the same time. Maybe even taking it a step further and writing members of your state congress to look deeper into the care that birthing women and families receive and why it needs a reform.
One candle won't light up a dark room, but thousands will.
You had your baby! Congratulations! So much focus and planning goes on the birth of the baby, as it should, it's a big event. But it is also important to prepare and plan for the postpartum period.
Many new moms say they didn't realize how long they would bleed for after birth. Even if you had a cesarean, you will bleed due to the placenta no longer being attached to your uterine wall. If you aren't one who uses panty liners, stock up. And most likely you won't be able to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes and you are so done wearing your maternity pants you can't bear the thought of putting them back on. So having "in between" clothes is important.
Having food on hand that can be easily prepared with one hand or by a sleep deprived partner is a good idea. My family was ravaged by the stomach virus of 2018 and I was left to fend for myself shortly after JD was born. Oatmeal with peanut butter and strawberries was my go to as it was easy to make and I could eat it one handedly. Having a Meal Train set up helped immensely. I didn't have to worry about dinner most nights for the first two weeks and it was glorious.
You will have visitors. Friends and family will want to come meet the new addition and who can blame them? Don't feel like you have to cater to every request. Set times and time limits that work for you. Many women will get hit with a flood of new hormones around three days postpartum so this isn't usually a good time to have a bunch of people over. If you aren't feeling up to visitors, say so. If you are, ask people to do a small chore or bring you something from the outside world. And don't feel like you need to entertain them. You have already done enough.
Postpartum sitz baths are amazing. I ordered some from a local gal and I could have wept it felt so nice ( Maybe it was the hormones). Your body is healing and you need to treat it as such. The ingredients in the baths aid in healing and relaxation. I got mine here
Sleep will be on and off for a while. Even if your baby slept through the night from the get go, most moms will find themselves checking on the baby every so often. Every noise, grunt or lack there of can make one feel the need to make sure baby is okay. But most babies don't sleep through the night (Nor are they supposed to) and that means parents don't sleep through the night. Lack of sleep can be a gateway for postpartum depression. Where hormones are already a little wonky, topping that off with little sleep doesn't help mental clarity. When one is able to get at least three to four hours of continuous sleep, it makes things a little more bearable. One thing my husband and I did to help stave off extreme fatigue was we shared the nighttime load. Since he is the night owl, he took the babies from nine to one, I would then take over from one to the rest of the day. At first, he would bring the babies to me so I could feed them and once we were past the worry of nipple confusion, I pumped and he would bottle feed them. This allowed me to go to bed early and get some good sleep and then he could sleep a little longer before work. It has worked well with our last three babies.
Take your time. Your baby wasn't formed in one week. It is going to take a little while for your body to realize it isn't pregnant and adjust accordingly. You just did an amazing thing. You created a human from start to finish. Be kind to yourself. The feelings and emotions that come with postpartum are delicate. Don't feel like you need to be the perfect mom who "bounces back" and picks up where she left off. Sometimes we need help. Sometimes we just need a friend to come over and sit with us or watch the baby so we can shower. Sometimes we just need to load baby in the car and get a coffee at the drive through to feel a little bit normal again.
Motherhood is awesome but it is not easy. Take things as they come and don't feel you can't ask for help. Your baby needs you healthy right now and taking care of yourself isn't selfish. It's necessary.