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The postpartum period in a mother’s life is a precious and special time which should be guarded with care. The postpartum period isn’t just the first six weeks after baby is born, either – commonly known as the “fourth trimester.” In fact, many sources argue that it extends through the first year, even the first three years, of baby’s life – because it takes time for our bodies to recover, no matter the type of birth.
In my recent guest article for my friend Jen Roland, titled Self-Care in the Postpartum Period, I outlined different practical ways for Christian mothers to care for their soul, body, mind, and relationships postpartum – and included a fun checklist. Feel free to check out that article here, and don’t forget to download that list at the bottom of the page.
For this article, I’ll briefly outline a few areas where mothers of fresh babies can find different types of support and resources in their local communities. A quick Google or Facebook search of any of the following, in addition to the place you live, should help any new mom get started in finding the direct type of help she needs. As with anything, if there is anything serious, be sure to check with your health provider foremost.
La Leche League
La Leche League is an international, non-proft organization that organizes advocacy, educational, and training resources related to breastfeeding. It is currently active in over 89 countries around the world. Search their website to find a local chapter near you – so much help for new moms!
IBCLC stands for International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. They are healthcare professionals who specialize in the clinical management of breastfeeding. Depending on the track taken (there are 3 Pathways to certification) one has to have 500-1,000 hours of clinical practice relating to lactation over 5 years prior to applying for certification; in addition to 14 health science courses, and more. Lactation Consultants can be angels, especially when learning how to breastfeed, and are an asset to any new mom.
CLC stands for Certified Lactation Counselor, which is a professional who completed an evidence-based foundation in breastfeeding knowledge and skills. They can provide clinical breastfeeding counseling and management support to families who are thinking about breastfeeding or who have questions or problems during the course of lactation. CLCs also gain the foundational requirements for continuing on to become IBCLCs.
Mother’s Milk Bank
A mother’s milk bank is just that – a non-profit donor breastmilk bank available for babies in need. Mother’s Milk Bank in Austin is the largest non-profit milk bank in the world, in which moms from 27 states send their extra breast milk to save the lives of medically fragile infants, or those families in need of supply. IT is an incredible resource which all moms should know about, providing babies with the benefits and nutrition found in breastmilk in their time of need.
Birth Trauma / Postpartum Depression
Birth trauma is grossly underestimated and thus, often left undetected in our go-go-go society. The impact of a difficult or long birth, an emergency treatment, or any shocking and unexpected experience in birth is enough to qualify as trauma. (Just ask any licensed therapist). Although many feel that a healthy, happy baby is enough compensation for any difficulty in labor, as a new mom, we must not ignore our own mental health. Living in community and support with other moms in the same time of life as you is invaluable, as we humans are designed to do life in community. Many local hospitals have support groups for new moms, and therapists or counselors often times have group support available for this season, as well.
To piggyback on the support group information, therapy is invaluable when any new mom undergoes anything that varies from a normal birth. Even if she feels content with what happened, or everything progressed smoothly in labor, processing it with a trained professional is always beneficial. We can never get enough help for mental and emotional growth, after all. Individual therapy is worth a look into. Postpartum Depression is such a big topic which falls into this, as it’s severely misunderstood; too much to get into here with limited space. But if you ever have any doubts, please do not hesitate to seek professional help!
Mom’s Circle/MOPS Group
Local mothers groups are a gem in what some days feel like a minefield. There are many different names for them; some of the more commonly known, which stem from organizations, are Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) and Mom’s Circle. There are also many that are attached independently to churches or Facebook groups for the region, led by a local mom who felt led to gain community and support. Do a quick Facebook search and you’ll find something in your area – or attend story time at your local library and chat with a mom there.
Car Seat Inspection
Many hospitals, fire stations, and baby stores offer free car seat inspections. Each one differs on if they are still offered for liability reasons – but it’s worth a call to check it out. Getting your infant car seat inspected before baby is born is important to be sure it is installed correctly, the right size, and there aren’t any obstructions that compromise safety. If any of the places mentioned aren’t available, ask a seasoned mom near you.
Infant CPR & Safety Class
Fairly straightforward and often led by the Red Cross, you can find an Infant CPR & Safety class independently with a trainer, or at your local hospital. This is lifesaving information, and every new parent should have a refresher on it. IT’s also a required class for doulas, midwives, and more.
NICU Parent Group
If your baby is in the NICU, ask the hospital about any resources they have in place for the parents. If they have a support group led by a therapist at the hospital, join it. Be sure to talk to other parents you meet. Community is a necessity for moms, for parents, especially in such a fragile time.
A pediatric dentist is fairly self-explanatory; they care for the health of the teeth of children. But, they are also important for babies, despite not having teeth yet. If you run into any feeding issues, or baby cries a lot and seems in pain, it may be worth a visit to a pediatric dentist. You may have heard about tongue ties, or lip ties, at this point. These interfere with a newborn’s latch and feeding, and can cause breathing issues, pain for baby when eating, and more. Down the road, ties can also cause speech issues for children and adults. If there are any concerns about feeding, see an IBCLC or pediatric dentist for ties.
A bereavement doula doesn’t have any single definition. She supports mothers and families in many different ways. In a nutshell, a bereavement doula provides physical, emotional, and informational support to families experiencing pregnancy loss. (Very similar to the description of what a birth or postpartum doula does, yet very distinct as well). Support within these categories is individualized to the families needs and the age of the baby at the time. It always includes ways to ensure memories and momentos, as well, as a doula holds space and walks with the families in this time of need. While there are other people involved in the process, the bereavement doula gives individualized one-on-one support the entire time.
BirthWaves is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which provides birth and postpartum services specifically for pregnancy and infant loss. The families supported by birthwaves pay absolutely nothing for services. They rely on donations and gifts from the community in order to serve. You can check out the website and find a local chapter in your state and region.
Mother-Baby Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is commonly known for support after surgery, and this includes cesareans. This helps women to recover after pregnancy, because physical therapy strengthens, energizes, and heals. Pregnancy and childbirth create extraordinary challenges to the body, as well as many physical aches, pains, scars, and more. Strengthening the core muscles as well as the pelvic floor during pregnancy can help to prevent future leakage, pain, and prolapse – among many other issues that may arise.
Ceserean Support/ICAN local chapter
The International Cesarean Awareness Network is the most widely known organization for education, support, and advocacy for anything related to cesareans. Educating yourself about all types of birth is empowering, and an important part of childbirth preparation. Support in any life change is always a necessity, I would say, and ICAN is a great place to find it. Many moms may face physical pain, emotional distress, regret, fear, relief, among many other things… Finding a supportive community to help process this in direct relation to your birth is pivotal in personal healing. It is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by reducing preventable cesareans for through education, support, and advocating for VBAC (vaginal birth after ceserean).
P.S. Don’t forget to find and hire a postpartum doula near you! Check out the article Questions To Ask Your Postpartum Doula for more information on that.
Which resources would you like to check out in your local community? Do you know of any others which are beneficial for postpartum/new moms? Let us know in the comments!
~Katherine Newsom writes at Simple Natural Mama
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