I am welcoming you to a thought-provoking episode where we are on a mission today to transform the way we think about the impact of postpartum care on long-term health and really shed light on a critical aspect of healthcare.
It’s time to move beyond that acute care and embrace a more comprehensive, supportive, and proactive approach that really has the potential to transform lives.
In this episode, we’re talking about:
- The impact of postpartum care on long-term health including heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and mental health.
- Emphasizing how postpartum care influences the health of families, communities, and society as a whole.
- Outlining an 8-step blueprint for exactly how healthcare providers can elevate the “standard of care” when it comes to the postpartum period.
By implementing these steps and embracing this holistic approach to postpartum care we can help create a paradigm shift. It’s abundantly clear that comprehensive postpartum care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity in our world.
Read the transcript of this episode:
Depression, anxiety, and autoimmune symptoms after birth is not how it’s supposed to be. There is a much better way, and I’m here to show you how to do just that. Hey, my friend, I’m Maranda Bower, a mother to four kids and a biology student turned scientist obsessed with changing the world through postpartum care. Join us as we talk to mothers and the providers who serve them and getting evidence-based information that actually supports the mind, body, and soul in the years after birth.
Hello, welcome to the Postpartum University podcast, Maranda Bower here, and I am welcoming you to a thought-provoking episode where we are on a mission today to transform the way we think about postpartum care and really shedding light on a critical aspect of healthcare. But not only that. Really, this is a rally cry for change. It’s a call to action that we believe all healthcare providers, regardless of their specialty, should be a part of.
In the world of healthcare, there is a term we often hear. It’s called acute care. It’s the immediate and necessary response to an individual’s medical needs, and, yes, it’s absolutely vital. But here’s the thing, it’s not enough when it comes to postpartum care. The postpartum period is this time of profound transformation, not just physically, but also emotionally and mentally too, and we all know that. It’s a time when new mothers are navigating a maze of emotions. They’re facing challenges that many have never anticipated, and it’s a time when, as healthcare providers, we have a unique opportunity to do something extraordinary about this. It’s a time when we can go beyond the standard, beyond the acute, and truly make a difference in the lives of postpartum mothers and their families. It’s not just good practice, this is a moral imperative. But how do you do that when the systems, the hospitals, the protocols, the standard recommendations are not working in our favor? This isn’t a call to go against those rules. Well, maybe it is, but rather to go beyond acute care and support mothers for the long term, especially if you’re a physician, a nurse, a midwife, or anyone involved in the healthcare of new mothers. If we’re going to challenge the status quo, we have to embark on a journey toward providing postpartum care that goes above and beyond. Then, together, we can create a world where every postpartum mother receives the care and support she truly deserves. Acute care addresses these immediate concerns, ensuring the health and safety of both mom and baby during and after immediate childbirth.
But what happens afterward, in the days, the weeks, the months that follow? This is where the story gets nuanced, where the mother’s physical and emotional well-being takes center stage, and in the healthcare world, it doesn’t take a stage at all. The truth is that the postpartum period isn’t just this mere epilogue to the birth story. Right, it’s a critical chapter, one that can profoundly impact a mother’s long-term success. Yet in many health care systems, postpartum care is just limited to a single checkup, and it’s often at that six-week mark, and it’s a checkmark on a list, it’s literally a box to be ticked, it’s a handout for your birth control pills.
One of the things I often hear is that we need to be addressing this comprehensive need of postpartum mothers, the emotional challenges, the hormonal shifts, or the potential for long-term health issues, and I agree. All of that, yes, hands down, but really that needs to not only happen during the postpartum period, but also way before postpartum even happens, and this is precisely when the system begins falling short. I recognize the need for not only better postpartum care but better prenatal care and fertility care too. I don’t want to undermine the significance of those in any way.
Over 30% of women in the US feel they have a traumatic birth experience. Forced medical procedures, outright lies, and inaccurate tests. The United States is ranked about 30 in the world in terms of maternal deaths. That means that there are 29 countries that have better maternal death rates than we do, less rates than we do the maternity fields and obstetrics it’s the second leading at least evidence-based medical industry.
Then there is postpartum. It’s like this chapter at the end of a book no one wants to talk about, unless it’s breastfeeding or depression or getting those birth control pills, so you don’t have to do this train wreck all over again. But there is so much more to this. So why should healthcare providers, from obstetricians to midwives, nurses, care about this? Because we are the architects of postpartum care. We are the ones who can reshape this narrative, and rewrite this story. We have the knowledge, the skills, and the capacity to provide postpartum care that goes well behind the standard, care that recognizes the significance of this chapter in a mother’s life not just an ending, but really a beginning.
Now imagine a new mother experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions that can accompany childbirth. She may be navigating sleepless nights, adjusting to her new role as a parent, and dealing with a body that feels entirely different from what it was just a short while ago, not to mention all the physical questions about her changing body. What’s normal, what’s going on with babies? Someone to talk to, to help you be self-assured, to grow your confidence. It’s a lot to handle, and it’s precisely during this time that a compassionate and comprehensive approach to postpartum care can make all the difference.
Become a postpartum university professional. Our evidence-based trainings, guides, downloads, tools, and community membership is now open for applications. Join us as we learn, connect and implement better care practices for ourselves and for our clients we serve. You can learn more at postpartumU.com.
Let’s be unapologetically clear about something. The struggle that many mothers face during the postpartum period isn’t due to personal shortcomings or a lack of resilience. No, the heart of the matter lies in a systematic shortfall, the chronic neglect of comprehensive postpartum care. It is never the mother’s fault or the family’s fault. It is a lack of a system or the system that has been created, not for the mothers, but for the people who are in control of the system. It’s a harsh truth and we must confront this head-on. The struggle is real for so many mothers because all too often they’re left to navigate this early motherhood without any support that they need and deserve. It’s not a question of individual weakness, but a consequence of a healthcare system that has historically undervalued postpartum care.
The consequences of a neglected postpartum are far-reaching. They affect not only the mother but also the families and societies as a whole. Mothers who are unsupported during the postpartum period face prolonged physical recovery, increased stress, and higher rates of postpartum mood disorders. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in a mother after having a baby. The toll this takes on a mother’s mental and emotional health care is significant, with repercussions that extend well beyond these postpartum months. And we’re not even talking about how that impacts the baby. But it doesn’t end there. Neglected postpartum care can also influence her long-term health. Unaddressed mood disorders, chronic stress. It increases the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disease later in life. It’s a harsh reality that should compel us to take action. As healthcare providers, we’re in this unique position to change the narrative. We have the power to advocate for comprehensive postpartum care that goes well beyond the standard. We can be the voice that demands more support, more resources, and more attention to the needs of new mothers during this period.
So what do we do? What do we do for this? How do we ensure that there’s not just this acute care, but also this long-term care?
So I outlined this blueprint for you that I wanna share with you today for comprehensive postpartum care that extends far beyond the standard practices.
1. The first is education during pregnancy. Transformation of postpartum care really begins before pregnancy, but let’s start with pregnancy. Healthcare providers have such a crucial role in educating expected mothers about the postpartum period, and this should include discussions about the physical, emotional, and mental changes that occur after birth. And it’s not gonna be done in a five-minute prenatal checkup. This is something that needs to happen as an ongoing conversation that extends well beyond five minutes. It needs to happen periodically, over and over reassuring, asking questions, allowing mama to ask questions.
2. Here’s the second part: advocating for longer postpartum checkups. One significant change that can have an immediate impact is checkup schedules. The current standard is six weeks postbirth. The new recommendation is three weeks postbirth, which is fantastic. We’re getting closer but we need to really consider more than that. What if we’re at the three-week mark and the six-week mark, and maybe at three months, six months, 12 months postpartum as well, where we are providing healthcare for a mother’s physical and emotional needs throughout that period, and that we’re doing more than just saying here’s a pill. Oh, you don’t feel good, you’re depressed. Here’s a pill. Or maybe, oh, you’re not sleeping. Maybe you should just not breastfeed. Those are not options that are in our best interest. Or oh, your hormones are out of whack. Here’s your hormonal birth control. Those are not ways in which we are helping moms heal. That’s not what we’re doing. So advocating for longer postpartum checkups is great, but it’s also really important what we do in those checkups. How are we caring for our mothers when we’re having conversations with them and they’re sharing with us what they’re going through? Here’s another component. 3. Three is screening for emotional and mental health. Right, routine screening for postpartum mood disorders like depression and anxiety should be integral parts of postpartum care. But what we do with that information is significant and I feel if you are a provider in this space, it is imperative to have the education and the resources or referrals necessary for this. And, again, it’s gotta extend beyond. Here’s your counselor and here’s your pill. There’s so much more to that story and we deserve better as mothers. Of course, I just mentioned this.
4. Connecting mothers with resources, we should have a huge list of resources and people and support groups that address their specific needs. So, support groups, mental health services, lactation consultants, and nutrition resources providers who are trained specifically to work in the postpartum area, who understand the physiological and psychological changes that occur in postpartum. It can’t be just anyone, of course.
5. Nutrition and holistic care, recognizing the importance of nutrition and postpartum recovery and long-term health as one of the most underutilized tools that healthcare providers have. We need to be offering guidance on postpartum nutrition. We need to be emphasizing the significance of nourishing the body during this critical period. It is a must for all. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a nutritionist. You still have an obligation to provide resources. You could use handouts.
I have the postpartum nutrition guidelines, specific for professionals to hand out to their clients. You don’t have to be trained in this, but you do have an obligation to share this information because it is so crucial.
6. Six is encouraging open communication. I feel like this is so important and key and it might sound like a no-brainer, but I remember when I was a new mom and I did not feel safe telling my provider that I think I had depression because I was scared that they were going to judge me. I was scared that there’s a potential that my baby would be taken away from me. Those might sound irrational, but in the moment those were my thoughts, those were my feelings, and so many mothers experience this over and over and over again. We need to create a safe and non-judgmental space that mothers feel safe, connecting their feelings and concerns and challenges with you. This act of listening, this empathy, this relationship really starts very early and extends into the postpartum period. When we establish that relationship early on, it becomes easier for our clients and patients to really understand that I can go to them. I feel like if I told them this they would understand me and they would give me the help that I need.
7. Seven is continual education and advocacy. We, as healthcare providers, should invest in this ongoing education about postpartum care and staying up to date on the latest research and the latest guidelines. That is really important, but I also want to stress the importance of the right education. I see so often that postpartum is tied to pregnancy and there is a lot of reason for that being the case. But I want to stress that postpartum is not just the chapter at the end of a book. It is not just what happens at the end of pregnancy. It truly is so transformative. It is physiologically and psychologically different than pregnancy. It cannot be lumped together in that same sense. Yes, they’re interrelated, yes, they’re interwoven, but they are fundamentally different as well. We can’t just go for the standard education of here’s your perinatal support, here’s what happens in pregnancy and postpartum. We also need to recognize that postpartum is its own world, it’s its own book, and that in itself is super important.
8. Number eight, which is one of my most favorites, is comprehensive family-centered care. It’s not just about the mother, it’s also about the family as a whole. But we know that when we take care of a mother, we simultaneously meet the needs of the baby and her family, recognizing the interconnectedness of family well-being and striving for this comprehensive family-centered care that addresses all the needs, with mother being the center.
I really feel that by implementing these steps and embracing this holistic approach to postpartum care, we, as healthcare providers, can help create a paradigm shift. And it’s time to move beyond that acute care and embrace a more comprehensive, supportive and proactive approach that really has the potential to transform lives, and we deserve this as mothers as well, we need this. It’s abundantly clear that comprehensive postpartum care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity in our world. What we’re doing currently with acute care is not working. It’s working for the short term if it’s working at all, and there’s nothing more. What we’re doing in our world right now is failing. Rates of depression, anxiety, autoimmune disease, suicide. They’re rising, and they’re rising significantly. We have to do something. We have a moral obligation to provide postpartum care that goes well beyond the standard, to acknowledge the long-term implications of our actions during this period. Again, we are the architects of change, the advocates for a brighter and healthier postpartum journey. So here’s the call to action let’s champion comprehensive postpartum care in our practices. Let’s educate, advocate, and elevate the standard of care for new mothers. By doing so, we can be the catalyst for a profound shift in postpartum health care, a shift that provides and prioritizes the well-being of mothers, the health of families, the betterment of society as a whole. And if you’re not feeling confident in doing this, if you want to see how this is being done, how other people are doing it, get with some others in your area.
What providers are doing this work? We have an entire professional membership where there are a multitude of providers from different backgrounds doctors, midwives, chiropractors, nutritionists, herbalists, like the list goes on. Doulas who are working together in this capacity, who are making the change. So I encourage you if you don’t have that in your area, make sure that you find a space, like our professional membership, where you can connect and where you can learn, where you can gather these tools and help start making some serious, necessary change in your own community. Together we can create a world where postpartum care isn’t just a checkbox. It’s a cornerstone of lasting health and well-being, and I hope you join me on this fight.
I am so grateful you turned into the Postpartum University podcast. We hope you enjoyed this episode enough to leave us a quick review and, more importantly, I hope more than ever that you take what you’ve learned here, apply it to your own life, and consider joining us in the Postpartum University membership. It’s a private space where mothers and providers learn the real truth and the real tools needed to heal in the years to come and the real tools needed to heal in the years Postpartum. You can learn more at www.postpartumu. That’s the letter U.com. We’ll see you next week.
- Grab your FREE Provider's Postpartum Nutrition Toolkit
18 pages of PDF handouts that serve as your comprehensive resource for delivering whole-body nutrition care and achieving better health outcomes for the families you support.
- Learn what your symptoms really mean with our Postpartum Health Assessment
Postpartum depression, anxiety, depletion, and autoimmune issues have become a new normal.
Take the most comprehensive postpartum assessment to discover what your symptoms are telling you and even more importantly, what you can do to fix it for good.
- Get started on the path to holistic recovery with the Postpartum Nutrition Repletion Plan
- Come hang out with us on Instagram!
Feeling inspired and ready to learn more about how you can actively revolutionize postpartum care?
- Learn about the Postpartum University Professional Membership
- Stay in the loop about the Postpartum Nutrition Certification Program
- Check out our courses in Postpartum Mental Health, Postpartum Nutrition, and Herbal Care