Benefits of Creating a Postpartum Support Network
The importance of Prenatal care is well known, but what isn’t as commonly known or accepted is the importance of postpartum care. The necessity of medical care for both mom and baby does not end with birth; It should continue into the fourth semester.
The “fourth trimester” is critical to the overall health of new mothers and babies. The fourth trimester is considered the first 6 weeks after giving birth but can last much longer than that. This continuum of care often goes unnoticed and not discussed with medical providers due to feelings of shame and fear of being labeled a “bad mother”.
However, emphasis should be placed on the importance of postpartum care just as it is for creating a plan for prenatal care. New moms, parents, and families need to create a plan for postpartum support to ensure the health of both mom and baby.
The postpartum stage, or “fourth trimester” generally refers to the first 6 weeks after childbirth and can extend as far as 4-6 months due to physical and emotional issues or complications. However, I believe this stage can last up to one year after the birth of a baby.
Not only is each mom different and an individual, but moms can also feel different after each baby. Becoming a new mother for the first time or even the fifth time is a period of tremendous change and responsibility making it a particularly vulnerable space for both mothers and babies. Because of this, it is imperative for mom to obtain postpartum support during this time.
Postpartum support refers to the physical, emotional, and mental treatment available that can protect the relationship between both the new mother and the baby, as well as the relationship with herself and others.
One of the keys to success after giving birth is to create a strong postpartum support network. This is especially important for high-risk mothers and babies. Think of your network like family, friends, and health care professionals you can depend on and who you could ask for help.
Here are some of the benefits of creating a postpartum support network:
1. New motherhood is a challenging time.
You as a new mom or a mom for the 5th time, involve your body moving through changes both emotionally and physically. You are also learning how to deal with all the changes of being a mother or adding to your family. This process involves you and your partner learning how to care for your newborn and function as a family unit. It’s definitely a challenging time to think about self-care, let alone make time for it. A “village of support” can offer the support and resources you need.
2. What does postpartum support look like?
Your postpartum support network starts with your OB/GYN team. This could also be a midwife, a postpartum doula, lactation consultant, nutritionist, pelvic floor therapist, and/or massage therapist.
However, safe and effective care during the postpartum period consists of many different components to include both internal and external care. External care can include dealing with the change in body shape after giving birth, monitoring the body or scars from a c-section to ensure proper healing, managing possible hair loss (which is totally common), and resolving issues associated with breastfeeding.
Internal care includes aspects of recovery that are not clearly visible on the outside and oftentimes stigmafied such as physical fatigue, body aches, cramps, pain, and constipation. Internal care can help to lessen or alleviate these symptoms while simultaneously monitoring for any health complications. The emotional and mental components of postpartum care require seeking assistance or help and no mom should feel guilt, shame, or fear for doing so.
At home, your support system can be your partner, family, friends, really anyone with whom you feel comfortable, especially when you are not feeling your best.
3. Your postpartum support network can be an extra set of eyes and ears.
Family, friends, and medical professionals are often the first to recognize when a mom is struggling or is not her normal self. After giving birth, your body has just undergone a strenuous ordeal that will require both physical and mental recovery periods.
There are many hormonal fluctuations throughout this time, which can lead to further complications. Anxiety, low confidence, self-esteem issues, and postpartum depression are all incredibly common experiences for new and experienced mothers. Obtaining appropriate mental health services can help to deal with these issues.
This includes attending a support group such as a new mother group, postpartum self-help group, or postpartum therapy groups, seeking out individual counseling from a mental health professional specializing in maternal mental health, or asking for and relying on the assistance of those close around you.
All new mothers as well as experienced mothers need a baseline of support to include sleep, healthy food, self-confidence, and time for themselves. Every woman’s postpartum needs will be different; some only need a few people to lean on for assurance and others need a village. Either way, it is okay to ask for help.
It is important to have a postpartum support plan in place before your baby is born. If you need help with this, please first reach out to your OB/GYN, but know there are more resources available to you.
I can assist you in creating a postpartum plan that is right for you, and that will give you the resources and tools to help you be a happy, healthy mom with a happy, healthy baby. I offer counseling for women along with their pregnancy and postpartum journey.
Please do not hesitate to speak up. Your “village” is here to help you. I am here for you. If you’re ready to move forward with counseling, give me a call for your free consultation at 954-391-5305.